In the face of skyrocketing COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations, El Paso County has until 5 p.m. Nov. 4 to tighten restrictions and move fully to Safer at Home Level 2: Concern.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notified the county of the requirement this morning. El Paso County Public Health officials are urging residents to step up prevention efforts.
As of Oct. 29, El Paso County’s metrics are:
Two-week incidence: 278.6
Two-week test positivity rate: 6.94 percent
Hospitalizations: While the daily admissions are stabilizing (although at an elevated level), there are concerns for the near future based on increasing hospitalizations
The move to Safer at Home Level 2 on the state’s dial framework includes these restrictions:
Preschool-12 schools: In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate
Higher education: In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate
Restaurants: 50 percent capacity or up to 50 people per room (or up to 100 with social distance calculator), six feet between parties outdoors
Offices: 50 percent capacity
Bars: Closed, unless food is served from a retail food licensee with tables spaced at least six feet apart and set seating for on-premise consumption. Fifty percent capacity or up to 50 people per room (or up to 100 with social distance calculator). Dance floors are not permitted. Bars that operate must follow all the requirements listed in Appendix H of Public Health Order 20-35.
Places of worship: **Pursuant to a federal court order, capacity limits do not currently apply to indoor Places of Worship, though social distancing requirements must still be met; outdoors, six feet of social distance must be maintained as well
Gyms/fitness: 25 percent capacity up to 50 people per room
Group sports: 25-person cap per activity
Retail: 50 percent capacity
Personal services: 50 percent capacity up to 50 people per room
Indoor events: up to 100-person cap per room (with social distance calculator)
Outdoor events: up to 175-person cap per designated activity (with social distance calculator)
Senior facilities: Outdoor and compassionate visitation, indoor under limited circumstances
Outdoor guided activities: 50 percent capacity, up to 10 people
Every Safer at Home level limits personal gatherings not otherwise covered by Public Health Order 20-35 Safer at Home Dialto 10 or fewer people from no more than two households.
El Paso County sent an updated mitigation plan to CDPHE last week, and is working to reverse the COVID trends with more mitigation strategies. Key takeaways from the plan include:
working with the Economic Development Regional Recovery Council, schools, and broader community partners and sectors;
working with the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association on a COVID-19 safety certification initiative which will provide an opportunity for restaurants and bars to be evaluated on standard COVID-19 safety criteria and receive acknowledgement; and
increased low-barrier testing sites throughout El Paso County. For a full list of sites, visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org/covid-19-testing-information
“Now more than ever, we need residents to follow the guidelines and proven prevention measures,” Public Health said in a news release. “Recognizing that people are experiencing COVID-19 fatigue, here are some small, actionable steps you can take.”
Keep gatherings small
Pick your “bubble” and stick to it
Per Public Health Order 20-35 Safer at Home Dial, personal gatherings are limited to 10 people from no more than two households
Limit unnecessary trips
Condense grocery trips and other errands to once or twice a week. Make a list so you are prepared and can get through the store quickly. If you’re able, go to the store at times of day that tend to be less crowded (early morning or later evening)
Wear a mask
Keep a clean cloth mask in several places so you are always prepared: keep one in your glove box, your purse, or by your keys so you don’t forget it
Practice social distancing
It’s important to remember that social distancing is not a substitute for wearing a mask. By practicing both prevention tips—wearing a mask and social distancing—it can greatly help reduce the spread of disease
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
If you’re going out, always make sure to bring hand sanitizer with you in case you don’t have access to soap and water
If you are sick, even with very mild symptoms, stay home. This is one of the most powerful tools we have to fight the spread of disease
“This has been a difficult year for everyone and we appreciate the continued COVID-19 prevention actions being practiced by each person daily to include staying home when you are sick, wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands frequently,” said Susan Wheelan, El Paso County Public Health Director.
“We urge our community to step up prevention efforts once again to impact El Paso County’s disease transmission and help reduce exponential growth of COVID-19 to protect public health and to support our economy and schools in the safest and most sustainable way possible. We need your help to get us to where we want to be as a county.”
Several other Colorado counties — Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Otero and Crowley — are also moving to stricter levels on the COVID-19 dial, with health officials warning the virus will be harder to suppress in the winter months.