DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — On Friday, Douglas County will move from Level Yellow to Level Orange on Colorado's Safer at Home Dial as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in the county.
As of Tuesday, 1,849 positive cases had been identified in the previous two weeks, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Given this increase, the CDPHE said it decided Douglas County should move to the more-restrictive Level Orange on Friday at 5 p.m.
According to the state’s Safer at Home Dial, Level Orange’s restrictions read:
- Indoor events are limited to 25% capacity per room, up to 50 people
- Outdoor events are limited to 25% with a cap at 75 people
- Gyms can stay open with 25% capacity with up to 25 people in a room or outdoor area
- Non-essential businesses can operate with staff at up to 25% capacity
- Essential businesses can operate normally while following social distancing requirements
- Places of worship can stay open at 25% capacity per room with up to 50 people
- Restaurants can operate at 25% capacity per room with up to 50 people
- Up to 10 people can gather together from no more than two households
On Thursday, the Board of Douglas County Commissioners said in a statement their focus remains on the health of county residents and the economy.
"We will continue to partner with Tri-County Health Department, our municipalities, large special districts, and our business community as well as regional and statewide leadership to advocate aggressively for the behaviors that reduce COVID-19 transmission,” the statement reads.
The Douglas County School District will move all students to remote learning starting Nov. 30 amid the county’s move to Safer at Home Level Orange and thousands of students and staff in the district that are currently quarantined.
The district said that as of Thursday, more than 5,000 students and staffers were in quarantine and 13 schools were remote learning, and that those numbers appeared as though they would rise in the coming days.
“This is creating a staffing shortage for in-person learning that can no longer be overcome,” Interim Superintendent Corey Wise said in a letter to district families.
The Douglas County School District said it will re-evaluate the COVID-19 numbers in the county in December before making decisions about next semester, which is currently scheduled to resume on Jan. 4 for staff and Jan. 5 for students.
On Tuesday, four months after the commissioners moved to leave the Tri-County Health Department over a disagreement with the health department and new public health orders, the county agreed to stay with Tri-County through at least 2022.
According to a letter sent Tuesday to the Tri-County board of health’s attorney by Douglas County Attorney Lance J. Ingalls, the county and Tri-County Board of Health came to an agreement on a policy “that will increase the role of individual counties” regarding the development and issuance of public health orders, which is why the county has stopped its move.
With Douglas County’s move to Safer at Home Level Orange on Friday, all of the Denver metro area will be in the orange level and a step away from being at the state’s stay-at-home levels on the dial system.
Many of the state’s 64 counties have moved back a level or two in recent weeks as both case counts and hospitalizations balloon to their highest numbers yet in the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were nearly 4,000 cases reported by the state on Tuesday and 1,304 hospital beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. Tuesday's three-day average positivity rate in Colorado was 11.74%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.
The CDPHE said in a report issued Wednesday that they do not see the trends statewide stopping soon.
“Cases are increasing quickly, with no signs of slowing or a plateau, and it’s likely this trend will continue,” the department said.