Late on December 30, Governor Jared Polis took to social media to request the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) move counties in red level restrictions to orange effective January 4. These counties include Denver and nearly half of the state. Polis cited the state’s 13-day decline in key indicators and a 73% occupation rate of ICU beds across Colorado as the cause of the change. The new loosening of restrictions will resume indoor dining to 25%, allow personal gatherings up to 10 people from no more than two households, increase gym capacity from 10% to 25% and more. This morning CDPHE released a joint statement, confirming the transition:
“The 13-day decline in the number of cases is a strong indication that we are moving in the right direction. Coloradans have been successful in slowing the spread, and we need them to keep following public health protocols– like continuing to only interact with those they live with, especially through the holiday. In general, countries restricted in level red have reduced viral transmission to a point where we can provide economic relief and move them into level orange, recognizing the fact that economic hardships also cause poorer health outcomes. We plan to work with local public health agencies on the next steps. Counties are always able to set more restrictive orders than the state if they so choose,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director, CDPHE.
This afternoon Denver Mayor Michael Hancock made a statement accepting the restriction changes.
“Thankfully, Denver’s numbers have been trending in the right direction. The Governor’s request to move Level Red counties, including Denver, to Level Orange is a testament to the efforts Denver residents and our fellow Coloradans have put in over the last several weeks to reverse the trend of rising cases. And we must continue those efforts to keep the trend heading downward. Along with the new federal stimulus package, this action will go a long way in supporting local businesses and workers, as well as our local economic recovery as a whole,” said Hancock.
Polis’ announcement came after a press conference earlier in the day that discussed the first case of a more contagious variant of COVID-19 as well as the next phase of vaccine distribution across the state.
“All versions of this deadly virus are highly contagious, and it’s important that as we head into the final stretch, Coloradans make an even greater effort to wear masks around others, socialize only with people in their household, and stay at least six feet from others when out. The fact that we were able to detect this as quickly as we did truly speaks to the incredible work of the exceptional scientists and staff in our lab,” said Governor Polis. “While we are the first to confirm a case of this variant strain, it’s unlikely that this is truly the first case of this nature in the United States, and in the days and weeks ahead, scientists will determine how widespread it is. It’s not uncommon for a virus to mutate or change, and some early evidence from the United Kingdom shows that this variant may spread more quickly.”
The conflicting statements of household socialization may be why Polis departed from using a press conference to announce the restriction changes and instead deferred to social media. Either way, current limitations will remain through New Year’s and lift on Monday, January 4, 2021.
For more information on the changes of restrictions go here.