Rising Summit County Cases Push It Into Level Orange: High Risk

Summit County will enter into the Level Orange: High Risk coronavirus category, CBS4 learned Wednesday night. The county will also impose a curfew that is set to take effect on Friday at 5 p.m.

“As expected, our numbers are continuing to shoot up. We had 224 cases here in the last two weeks. Our incident rate went to now 794 per 100,000. Our positivity is at 14.3%, so really I think the state had no option but to move us into level three so they’ve done that,” said aid Scott Vargo, Summit County Manager. “I don’t know if we’ve received the letter quite yet but they we’re getting ready to hit send as we were finishing the meeting with them.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health an Environment made the decision during a meeting with Summit County officials Wednesday evening, following a one-week deadline to mitigate the spread. With cases continue to rise, not only did the state move the county to level orange, it recommended additional restrictions.

“We wish that we did not have to go down this path. We’re seeing as I said, significant case activity in Summit County,” said Vargo. “We are seeing more activity around hospitalization around the Front Range, and that has been our biggest concern is hospital capacity in the long run and the risk that we place our more vulnerable. We’re now seeing with this wider community spread, more people in more age groups being affected by the virus.”

Vargo said he realizes this will have a major impact on businesses and restaurants, which will be required to reduce capacity beginning Friday.

Many restaurants have gone to great lengths to operate under the latest restrictions, 50% capacity.

“To go back to level three at 25% capacity, that would be very devastating to our business and it’s frustrating because if you look statewide, many of these outbreaks have not been as a direct result of restaurants,” said Phillips Armstrong, owner of Aurum Food and Wine.

Armstrong setup Yurts in front of Aurum in Breckenridge, in an effort to expand his outdoor space but says he may consider a temporary shutdown under level three restrictions.

“It’s frustrating that we’re just like, ‘boom, restaurants, you’re penalized.’ Why don’t you penalize the hundred high school kids that were having a party,” he said, “that is frustrating because we’ve been following the rules and we have not been the culprit of spread but yet we’re the first point of reduced capacity.”

While the spread in Summit County has recently been impacting a multiple age groups, Vargo says the core issue remains the same.

“I think at this point we have transitioned to more true community spread. I think that it is still being driven to some degree by gatherings- folks not complying with mask wearing, not maintaining social distance etcetera and so we’ve got to get folks back to those basics,” Vargo continued. “We all want to see Summit County back on better footing as we enter the real winter season and so now is our best opportunity to make some more dramatic changes before ski season really ramps up.”

Vargo said the state has not put Summit County on a timeline to see a decrease. He believes residents will have several weeks under level orange to change behaviors before moving to the stay at home phase.

“They made these strong encouragements that we do some other mitigation measures and so the curfew and indoor rec restrictions… The hope being that the state would continue to provide us with different alternatives, different levers that we might be able to impose before going into any sort of stay at home order, and so they didn’t lay out any kind of a strict timeline for when we would necessarily be forced into that red phase, and so we’re hoping that we don’t get to there.”

Safer at Home Level Orange limits business capacity to:
• 25% or 50 people at restaurants, places of worship, and non-critical manufacturing
• 25% at offices and retail
• 25% or 25 people at gyms/fitness centers, personal services, and limited health care settings

Events are limited to:
• 25% or 50 people, whichever is fewer, with space calculator at indoor events
• 25% or 75 people, whichever is fewer with space calculator at outdoor events
• 25% or 10 people at outdoor guided services
• Virtual or outdoors in groups of less than 10 at group sports and camps

Personal gatherings will continue to be limited to 10 people from no more than two households. Face coverings and social distancing are required indoors and when within 6 feet of others.

A Stay At Home order is the next step if cases and numbers don’t go back down.

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