Jeffco implements new health order to limit gatherings as cases grow

State could move county to Level 3 any day, JCPH says

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 10/30/20

Jefferson County Public Health issued a new public health order on Oct. 29, intended to slow the increasing spread of COVID-19 in the county and prevent the state from moving the county to …

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Jeffco implements new health order to limit gatherings as cases grow

State could move county to Level 3 any day, JCPH says

Posted

Jefferson County Public Health issued a new public health order on Oct. 29, intended to slow the increasing spread of COVID-19 in the county and prevent the state from moving the county to Safer-at-Home Level 3 on its COVID-19 dial.

The new order, Public Health Order 20-009, limits gatherings in both public and private settings. Such gatherings have been implicated in the county's recent spike in cases.

The order limits outdoor events to no more than 75 people, and indoor events to no more than 25 within usable space as determined using a social distancing calculator on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's website. Under the order, events may no longer have more than one room, designated activity or area.

Prior to the order, indoor venues were allowed up to 100 people per indoor room and 175 per outdoor activity provided social distancing could be maintained, with venues able to apply to include multiple indoor rooms or outdoor activities within one venue.

The order also requires that all restaurants, bars, breweries and similar venues cease selling alcohol at 10 p.m. Spectators will also no longer be allowed at any school high school sporting events as well as adult recreational league games.

Jefferson County Public Libraries all responded to the order by closing all libraries for in-person service. Locations are still available for curbside service.

The order took effect on Oct. 30 and will remain in effect until Nov. 29, but can be extended, rescinded or amended. According to a statement from JCPH, the county is also voluntarily relinquishing its variance from the state, which had allowed the county to the county from certain provisions regarding crowd sizes and other requirements in state public health orders.

Margaret Huffman, the director of community health services at JCPH, said in a statement on Oct. 29 that the next two weeks will be critical for the county as it tries to bring its case numbers back under the threshold to remain in Level 2 under the state's COVID-19 dial.

That would require the county to reduce its new case numbers to about 1,000 cases over two weeks. In the two-week period extending from Oct. 14-28, Jeffco recorded 1,815 new virus cases. The release also states that Jeffco's two-week positivity rate is 6.2%, “which indicates the virus is widespread in our community and that there are likely more people with COVID-19 who haven't been tested.”

“We believe this mitigation approach balances a few things: doing what we have to do to help get our cases down and avoid even tighter restrictions, allowing businesses and schools to continue to operate, and providing our community tangible steps they can take to help forge a better path forward,” Huffman said. “We are hopeful that, by working together with our community, we will get a handle on this virus now so we can all go into the holiday season on a safer, healthier course."

The new Public Health Order is part of a new mitigation strategy the county was to submit to the state.

JCPH Environmental Health Services Director Jim Rada told the Jeffco commissioners on Oct. 27 that submitting the plan could buy the county two additional weeks to bring numbers down before being moved to Level 3, as the state stated it intends to give counties a two-week grace period and two more weeks to implement a mitigation plan. However, the state can also decide to move the county within that two-week window if it is unsatisfied with COVID-19 data.

Rada said that during a conversation on Oct. 26 state officials had suggested the county consider voluntarily moving to Level 3. The county decided to instead move forward with submitting a mitigation plan in hopes of keeping Level 2 status.

“But the way that the numbers are looking we could easily be in a much worse place in the next few days and the state may step in and say `things aren't looking any better we are going to make that call to move to Level 3,'” said Rada.

The new public health order and more pandemic news can be found at www.jeffco.us/3999/Coronavirus-Disease-2019-COVID-19

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