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Statewide COVID-19 dial expires, many counties loosen restrictions

What's happening to COVID restrictions in southern Colorado
Updated Colorado COVID-19 dial
Posted at 1:00 AM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 18:39:28-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — On Friday, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment will end the statewide COVID-19 dial and will hand over decisions about COVID restrictions to local agencies.

Where does your county stand? (see details below)

  • El Paso County - no additional restrictions, businesses can set their own restrictions
  • Pueblo County - initially under Level Yellow, will introduce local order Monday, April 19.
  • Fremont County - no additional restrictions
  • Teller County - no additional restrictions

Here's a look at the status of counties as of April 16, 2021:

covid map web.jpg

Click here for an interactive version of this map.

The color-coded dial framework has been used since September to create a uniform set of rules regarding capacity limits businesses and employers across the state.

CPDHE Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France said several factors led to the decision to give more authority to local governments including:

  • Adequate hospital capacity
  • Increasing vaccination rates
  • Low rates of growth of COVID-19 infection
  • Strong desire from communities to be open
  • Variation of case rates across counties

On Thursday, officials stressed that while the state moves to local control, Coloradans should not disregard the day-to-day actions that help slow the spread of COVID-19. They're concerned about a fourth COVID-19 wave as cases, hospitalizations and percent positivity tick up, state public health officials said they are confident moving forward with transferring regulation control back to the counties.

Colorado reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. The latest modeling report from the Colorado School of Public Health released earlier this week said that “delaying policy changes, whether at the state or local level, until mid-May, vs. mid-April, will prevent large numbers of deaths and hospitalizations.”

Scott Bookman, COVID-19 Incident Commander with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said, "I think at this point it is county-level decision making," said Dr. France, "I would imagine if cases and hospitals became full, because of cases, and there was a risk of overwhelming hospitals again then certainly the state will be looking at that and intervening to protect our hospital systems."

As the state gives control of COVID-19 rules back to the counties, Colorado will see different rules and regulations across the state. News5 will keep you updated as we learn more from counties across the region.

El Paso County:
El Paso County will not enforce the COVID dial, according to both Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and El Paso County Public Health. The mayor said he does not plan to impose new local capacity restrictions over and above the state requirements. That position is shared by the El Paso County Board of Commissioners.

However, the mayor pointed out that local virus numbers have started to go up again. He warned the community to not let down our guard just yet.

Restaurant and business owners can still continue to have capacity limits and other safety measures if they choose to do so.

Pueblo County:
Pueblo County Public Health initially said it will continue to use the state's COVID dial and remain in Level Yellow. However, on Friday, April 16, the county said it will use a local order and officials will address the specifics of that order on Monday, April 19.

Rules under Level Yellow:

  • Under the order, businesses that have 5-star certification will not have to require six-foot social distancing and can operate in Level Blue.
  • Outdoor activities of fewer than 500 people will not face restrictions.
  • Restaurants must operate at 50% capacity or 150 people.
  • Last call is at 1 a.m.

Fremont County:
Officials in Fremont County say they will not enforce any local public health orders stricter than what is issued by CDPHE. The County says they are choosing to do this since most of their at-risk residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As of Thursday, April 15 Fremont County was operating at Level Blue.

The following changes are expected to go into effect:

  • When more than 100 people are gathered in a room, the setting may operate at 100% capacity not to exceed 500 people, with 6 feet distancing between parties of unvaccinated people or when vaccination status is unknown.
  • This requirement does not apply to licensed retail food establishments.

Teller County:
Officials in Teller County say they will no longer be using or adhering to the COVID dial and its associated restrictions. Officials have not yet released any specifics on if they plan to keep any restrictions in place. In a press release, the county says they "will seek a balance between life, health and the overall welfare and well-being of our citizens, without a dial arbitrarily increasing or decreasing restrictions."

Denver-metro:

What happens to the mask mandate?
Governor Jared Polis extended the statewide mask mandate for 30 days in early April. The governor will re-evaluate the mandate come early May.

The latest mandate requires all counties, to have mask requirements in place in schools, child care centers, indoor children’s camps, state government facilities, personal services locations like hair and nail salons and tattoo parlors, certain health care settings like hospitals and doctors’ offices, congregate care facilities, prisons and jails.

Masks also must be work at any mass indoor gathering where more than 100 unvaccinated individuals or individuals with unknown vaccination status are gathered in a room.

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