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Colorado’s Level Red counties are now at Level Orange
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Credit CDPHE

A change in the COVID-19 status of Colorado counties that had been at Level Red to Level Orange status took effect January 4.

Gov. Jared Polis on December 30, 2020, asked the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to make the change.

Colorado counties are classified under six status levels based on the number of new COVID cases in each county, the percent of coronavirus positivity and whether hospitalizations are increasing, stable or declining. Each status level carries with it various restrictions, with red being the second-most severe status, after purple, and orange is the third-most severe.

As of January 4, all but four Colorado counties are at Level Orange.

Key requirements under Level Orange include:

• No gatherings of more than 10 people from more than two households.

• No more than 25% in-person workers for non-critical office businesses.

• No more than 50% capacity for critical and non-critical retail businesses.

• No more than 25% capacity, or 50 people, at restaurants, houses of worship and other indoor locations.

• No more than 25% capacity, or 25 people, for indoor gyms and recreation centers.

The CPDHE says the decision is meant to give greater flexibility to counties.

“Our goal is to empower counties to operate with the least restrictions possible, while at the same time ensuring protection of the public’s health and Colorado’s hospital capacity. We are closely monitoring disease transmission while working to provide much-needed economic relief by allowing businesses to operate with fewer restrictions,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of CDPHE.

Counties can choose to continue to operate with more restrictive guidance, and a few are. The state’s decision to move the counties from red to orange simply provides greater flexibility for local jurisdictions.

CDPHE notified counties of the decision last week.

The biggest changes are capacity restrictions for businesses, restaurants and schools. There are three metrics used to determine the levels along with public health considerations.

1. Number of new cases: The case count provides information on how prevalent the virus is circulating in communities.

2. Percent positivity of COVID tests: The percent positivity is a clear indication if enough testing is being done.

3. Impact on hospitalizations. Hospitalization data provides information about health care capacity.

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