ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. – While Denver is encouraging people to be home by 10 p.m., Adams County is flat out telling its residents they will not be allowed to roam the streets past that hour starting Saturday night.
The Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) announced late Friday afternoon it would be implementing a curfew for all of Adams County in an effort to slow community-wide spread of the novel coronavirus. The new public health order goes into effect Nov. 7 starting at 10 p.m. and will be in effect for 30 days.
Everyone except for essential workers will be required to be off the streets once 10 o’clock hits, county health officials said in a news release.
“This new order is really a 5-alarm call to action, like an evacuation in the face of a wildfire. The curfew essentially means that unless you are an essential worker or have an urgent reason to be out, everyone should be in their homes from 10 pm to 5 am,” said Tri-County Health Department executive director John M. Douglas, Jr. “The restrictions might seem uncomfortable, but we believe that they are one of our last best hopes to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community without the necessity of Adams County moving to the Stay at Home orders that we had in the spring.”
The curfew from the TCHD comes two weeks after the health department announced Adams County would be moving to tighter restrictions on the state’s COVID-19 dial to curb the rapid spread of the new virus, but “despite further restrictions, COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Adams County at an alarming rate, while the number of available hospital beds for intensive care patients becomes more limited,” county health officials said.
The public health order puts additional restrictions on businesses like restaurants, bars and sporting events:
- Restaurants must be closed during curfew hours to in-person dining but may offer curbside and delivery services.
- Restaurants must also limit party size to six people or less from no more than two households, and they are encouraged to place a time limit on diners in order to maximize table turnover during hours of operation.
- All alcohol sales, service and consumption must end at 10 p.m.
- Fans will not be allowed at all sporting events, including Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) sanctioned sporting events.
- Any business that is not a considered critical must be closed to the public, though employees and individuals providing goods or services to the business are not considered members of the public for purposes of the order.
- The order also requires all critical businesses, non-critical businesses and critical government functions must adopt work from home or telework policies for any operations that can be done remotely.
Any business open to the public that violates the public health order may face suspension or revocation of its license by an appropriate licensing authority, the TCHD said.
“We are at an extremely critical point in this pandemic, with much at stake, if we don’t stop the spread of this virus,” said Adams County Commissioner and Board Chair Emma Pinter. “The wellbeing of our community – our businesses, our schools, our economic vitality – lies in the hands of every single person in Adams County. We each need to follow the new guidelines closely to prevent being moved to the State’s Stay at Home Red Level, which is the next step if our numbers do not drop.”
County health officials said that although the county moved to Safer at Home: Level Orange – High Risk on Oct. 28, rates of infection have continued to rise over the past week, and Adams County is now “substantially above” the incidence rate that leads to a stay-at-home order, and added that a failure to lower cases could mean the county could shut down.
As of Nov. 5, Adams County reported 17,107 known positive cases with a two-week incidence rate of 797 per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 12.7% - more than double of what state health officials say is recommended to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Hospitalization rates are also steadily increasing, according to county health officials, who say Adams County is reporting a hospitalization admission of 2.4 per 100,000 residents per week – four times higher than in early September and the highest rate for Adams County since early April, according to TCDH officials.
Tri-County Health said it would try to seek voluntary compliance through education, technical assistance and warning notices, but noted the order may be enforced by any appropriate legal means.
The announcement from Tri-County Health comes several hours after Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a “Home by 10” public health order that will go into effect Sunday for all Denver residents. Hancock said the city is not characterizing the measure as a curfew.
Colorado reported a record-breaking 3,463 new cases over the past 24 hours as well as hospitalizations, with 936 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Colorado hospitals by Friday afternoon.
On Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis and CDPHE State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said that case counts and hospitalizations had reached their highest points yet in Colorado and urged Coloradans not to gather with anyone outside of their household for the next month.