EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) — The state of Colorado’s new COVID-19 dial shows El Paso County could be close to the ‘Protect Our Neighbors’ phase, which allows for county control of COVID-19 freedoms. It begs the question — what can the county do to move the dial in the right direction?
The medical director for El Paso County Public Health says it will take at least two weeks from when the dial launched on Sept. 15 to see any movement, good or bad.
“The 29th is the first time that they’ll begin to consider that,” Dr. Robin Johnson said. “Because that will have given us those two weeks of trending at the present level.”
While the county’s current 'Safer at Home Level 1 - Cautious' status is promising, there are concerning trends among two age groups:
- Individuals between the ages of 20 and 29 account for almost a quarter of cases.
- There have also been recent rises in cases among individuals 60 years of age and older.
- Outbreaks are being identified at an increasing rate within the community. There are currently 33 ongoing outbreaks among long-term care facilities, churches, retail, schools, hotels and construction sites.
The county lists the three major metrics the county needs to meet before applying for the ‘Protect Our Neighbors’ phase:
- Five percent or less test positivity rate
- Between 0-75 cases per 100,000
- No more than two new COVID-19 hospital admissions per day
“So when we look at Protect Our Neighbors, the only metric that we’re really falling short on the three major ones — is in our incidence,” Dr. Johnson said. “In our incidence per 100,000, we’re still a little above.”
El Paso County’s current ‘Safer at Home Level 1 – Cautious’ status comes with these state guidelines:
- Personal gatherings: Up to 25 people
- P-12 schools: In-person suggested or hybrid, remote as appropriate
- Higher education: In-person suggested or hybrid, remote as appropriate
- Places of worship and life rites: 50 percent capacity up to 175 indoors; six feet between parties outdoors, per local zoning
- Restaurants: 50 percent capacity up to 175 indoors; six feet between parties outdoors, per local zoning
- Non-critical manufacturing: 50 percent capacity up to 175 people
- Offices: 50 percent capacity
- Bars: Closed
- Gyms/fitness: 25 percent capacity or 175 people
- Group sports and camps: 50 person cap per activity
- Non-critical retail: 50 percent capacity
- Personal services: 50 percent capacity up to 50 people
- Limited health care settings: 50 percent capacity up to 50 people
- Indoor events: 50 percent capacity up to 175 people
- Outdoor events: 50 percent up to 250 people
- Outdoor guided services: 50 percent capacity up to 25 people
However, if El Paso County can get to the ‘Protect Our Neighbors’ phase, county leaders will be able to make their own rules. So far, five counties in Colorado have achieved 'Protect Our Neighbors.'