Summit County reports 6th-highest incidence rate of COVID-19 in Colorado as officials prepare for further restrictions | SummitDaily.com
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Summit County reports 6th-highest incidence rate of COVID-19 in Colorado as officials prepare for further restrictions

KEYSTONE — Summit County’s rate of new novel coronavirus cases is among the highest in the state, according to Colorado’s COVID-19 dial dashboard.

Summit County’s 14-day incidence rate of 560 new cases per 100,000 people is the sixth highest in the state. It’s even higher than that of densely populated Denver County, which is reporting an incidence rate of 400.1 new cases per 100,000 people, according to the dashboard.

The high rate of new cases falls within the state’s Stay-at-Home guidelines, the most restrictive phase of pandemic response. The county hasn’t been under Stay-at-Home orders since April.

The rising cases continue to worry Summit County officials as they head into meetings with the state.

Summit County Manager Scott Vargo and Public Health Director Amy Wineland met with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials Wednesday, Oct. 28, to go over the details of the county’s plan to quell the spread of the virus. 

On Friday, Oct. 23, the county amended its public health order, reducing gathering sizes and placing more restrictions on restaurants and short-term lodging facilities. Wednesday’s meeting served as an opportunity for the county to review those measures with the state. 

The county potentially could fall into a lower level of reopening as a result of Wednesday’s meeting. Public health spokesperson Nicole Valentine wrote in an email that the county will be releasing the results of that meeting to the public Thursday, Oct. 29.

Right now, the county remains in Safer-at-Home Level 2, which has a 50%, or up to 50 person, capacity on restaurants, stores, offices and places of worship.

According to the Safer-at-Home public health order, the state health department “reserves the right to move counties down one or more levels more quickly as circumstances warrant.” 

“Whether you believe that there are significant health risks associated with COVID or not is irrelevant at this point because we are under the structure of the state in regards to that COVID dial and with regards to restrictions,” Vargo said at a board of health meeting Tuesday, Oct. 27.

If state officials decide the county’s numbers are too high to remain in Level 2, Summit County could move to Safer-at-Home Level 3, which is labeled “high risk” and would implement 25% capacity restrictions on restaurants, offices, stores and places of worship. 

The county’s positivity rate, the percentage of positive test results out of all test results, has risen to 10.8%, which is within the Safer-at-Home Level 3 threshold. 

“It’s really alarming to see where our numbers are headed,” Wineland said at the Tuesday meeting. “We’re in a dire situation right now, and I think we’ve been voicing that along the way. We are now seeing some hospitalizations pop up, as well, which we know is a late metric but one that does happen as we see an increase in cases.”

The county has reported five hospitalizations due to the virus since Sept. 15, according to its coronavirus webpage. The county’s number of hospitalizations is its best metric, falling within the least-restricted Protect-Our-Neighbors phase of reopening.

If Summit County does move to a lower level, it won’t be alone. Seven counties have moved to a lower level of reopening in the past few days, Vargo said. 

“It’s important for everybody to understand and recognize that we aren’t kidding around when we make the comment that we really do run the risk of moving into a different level within the dial,” he said. 

Going forward, the county is urging the public to continue following the six commitments to containment, including mask-wearing and physical distancing, and the newly amended order, which limits gatherings to six people within two household groups. 

A major concern for county officials is the quickly approaching holiday season. The recent rise in cases started as a result of gatherings during Labor Day. 

“Really try to avoid any gathering as much as possible,” Wineland said. “Really (consider) whether you want to have your traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday plans. We know that these two holidays in particular do promote the mixing of multiple generations, and we are really concerned about our most vulnerable populations.”

Summit County is currently in the safer-at-home Level 2 phase of reopening but is at risk of moving backward because of rising case numbers.
Graphic from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
State COVID-19 dial framework explained

There are five levels of reopening in Colorado. Here’s what they are and what’s allowed:

Protect-our-neighbors

  • Metrics: Must exceed safer-at-home Level 1metrics in addition to meeting testing, contact tracing and additional hospital guidelines.
  • Restrictions: Allows any activity at 50% capacity with a limit of 500 people.

Safer-at-home Level 1,  “cautious”

  • Incidence rate: 0-75 cases per 100,000 people
  • Positivity rate: 5% or less
  • Hospitalizations: No more than 2 new COVID-19 admissions per day
  • Restrictions: Allows places of worship, offices, restaurants and stores to operate at 50% capacity with up to 175 people indoors, whichever is fewer. Bars remain closed.

Safer-at-home Level 2,  “concern”

  • Incidence rate: 75-175 cases per 100,000 people
  • Positivity rate: 10% or less
  • Hospitalizations: No more than two new COVID-19 admissions per day
  • Restrictions: Allows places of worship, offices, restaurants and stores to operate at 50% capacity with up to 50 people indoors, whichever is fewer. Bars remain closed.

Safer-at-home Level 3, “high risk”

  • Incidence rate: 175-350 cases per 100,000 people
  • Positivity rate: 15% or less
  • Hospitalizations: Greater than two new COVID-19 admissions per day
  • Restrictions: Allows places of worship, offices, restaurants and stores to operate at 25% capacity with up to 50 people indoors, whichever is fewer. Bars remain closed.

Stay-at-home

  • Incidence rate: Greater than 350 cases per 100,000 people
  • Positivity rate: 15% or higher
  • Hospitalizations: Greater than two new COVID-19 admissions per day
  • Restrictions: Places of worship and offices are closed. Schools are remote. Restaurants and stores are restricted to to-go and curbside pickup only.

Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment COVID-19 dial webpage.


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