Town News

Summit County to Move to Level Orange on Monday, January 4, 2021

Why Summit County is Moving to Level Orange

On December 30, Governor Polis announced that he was asking the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to move counties like Summit County currently at Level Red to Level Orange on the State COVID-19 dial. Governor Polis noted the ongoing challenges of walking “a difficult line between the public health crisis and the economic crisis”, and that he was making this request due to the sustained 13-day decline in Colorado’s COVID-19 numbers and as “only 73% of ICU beds statewide are currently in use”. Subsequently, CDPHE has agreed to move Colorado counties in Level Red to Level Orange on Monday, January 4, 2021.  This means that even if counties have numbers which place them firmly in Level Red, they will move to Level Orange.

When and how will this change in levels be made?

  • Summit County will move to Level Orange on Monday, January 4, and Summit County’s amended public health order, revised in response to the State’s decision to move Summit County to Level Orange, will go into effect at 12:01am on Monday, January 4.
  • Summit County Public Health will conduct a virtual town hall to review the details of the new order at 10:30am on Monday, January 4, and meeting details will be published on the Summit County Facebook page.

How will this impact the “5 Star” Certification program, which has been implemented for restaurants and personal fitness?

  • This move from Level Red to Level Orange will NOT allow Summit County’s “5 Star” certification program to move up another level to Yellow because Summit County’s COVID-19 new case numbers still solidly place Summit County in Level Red.
  • A county would have to have numbers/data that actually puts it in Level Orange in all 3 categories (new cases, % positivity, and hospitalization rate) for a solid 14-day period in a declining trend before a county could apply for another “5 Star” certification program variance with the State.

What do the numbers mean and how does Summit measure up?

  1. New cases: This number indicates how much the virus is circulating. As of December 31, Summit’s 14-day average is 723 per 100,000 (still Level Red), which is a big improvement over 1,356 per 100,000 on December 3, but still a long way from the next goal of 350 per 100,000, which is Level Yellow. In order to have a common measure across counties small, medium, and large, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment calculates rates based on what they would be if there were 100,000 people.
  2. Percent positivity: The good news is that there is a lot more testing available in Summit, and you don’t need to have symptoms to get tested. The positivity rate is intended to indicate that enough testing is available to get a true picture of infection rates, and as of December 31, Summit County reported a 5.7% rolling 14-day average positivity rate (solidly in Level Yellow), which is a big improvement over 17.4 on November 4. The goal is to get this number under 5% by making testing widely available and used. Get tested! It’s free.
  3. Impact on hospitalizations: Whether hospitalizations are increasing, stable, or declining. Since December 17, there have been seven COVID-19 hospitalizations in Summit, and St. Anthony’s inpatient beds are currently at 47% occupancy. Right now 39% of adult critical care ventilators are in use in the state (it was 47% on November 21), and 73% of ICU beds statewide are currently in use. Reminder- most critically ill Summit patients are transferred to the Front Range so the hospital occupancy rates there are important to understand.

Facts matter

On January 4, how will this change from Level Red to Level Orange and the new Summit Public Health Order impact businesses, residents, and visitors?

  • Personal gathering size: Up to 10 people from no more than two households
  • Ski Areas: Locally determined Level Red capacity limits at ski areas will no longer apply; ski areas will be allowed to operate at their state-approved plan capacity limits.
  • Restaurants:
    • Indoor dining allowed at ALL restaurants, not just those with a “5 Star” certification
    • May operate at 25% of the posted occupancy limit indoors not to exceed 50 people, excluding staff, whichever is less, per room. Restaurants may also use any existing, licensed outdoor space for in-person dining.
    • On-premises sale, consumption and service of alcohol must stop by 9:30pm
    • Takeout alcohol sales must stop by 10:30pm
    • Dining parties limited to 10 people from no more than two households; patrons in different parties must be spaced a minimum of six (6) feet apart.
    • Employee records- Restaurants must collect current contact information for all employees, dates of all shifts worked by all employees, and other known places of employment for each employee.
  • Bars: Closed
  • Lodging – hotels, motels, and short term lodging accommodation rentals of 30 days or less (e.g., Airbnb, VRBO, timeshares, RV parks, bed and breakfasts, condo-tels, lodges and retreats)
    • Up to 10 people from no more than two households may be in one unit.
    • Owners and/or entities responsible for the booking and renting of lodging units must confirm the identity of all renters upon arrival to ensure all individuals are arriving from no more than two households.
    • Employee records- Lodging businesses must collect current contact information for all employees, dates of all shifts worked by all employees, and other known places of employment for each employee.
  • Gyms/fitness: ALL personal fitness providers (not just those with a “5 Star” certification) may operate at 25% capacity or 25 people, whichever is fewer ; outdoor groups limited to 10 people
  • Retail: 50% capacity, with increased curbside pickup and delivery; dedicated senior/at-risk hours encouraged
  • Personal services (e.g., salons, massage): 25% capacity or 25 people, whichever is fewer
  • Face coverings: Individuals must wear face coverings over nose and mouth whenever indoors in areas open to the general public, and outdoors when six (6) feet of physical separation cannot be maintained.
  • High risk populations: Strongly advised to stay at home
  • Child care: open, standard ratios
  • P-12 schools: In-person suggested. Counties are encouraged to prioritize in-person learning by suspending other extracurricular and recreational activities in order to preserve effective cohorting.
  • Higher education: In-person, hybrid or remote, as appropriate
  • Offices: 25% capacity; remote work strongly encouraged
  • Indoor events: 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer
  • Outdoor events: 25% capacity or 75 people, whichever is fewer
  • Group sports: Outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer
  • Outdoor guided services: 25% capacity or 10 people, whichever is fewer.

Key Takeaways

  • Summit County’s numbers are not putting us in Level Orange; a decision by the Governor and CDPHE to balance health and economic concerns is.
  • Our success depends on our individual actions and how willing we are to refrain from risky behaviors for the good of our community, our businesses, and the people we love. Restrictions and guidelines are only as good as the people willing to make the right decision even when no one is watching.
  • Peace out 2020! What took you so long 2021?