The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment may add a new hue to its color-coded COVID-19 dial in response to the growing number of counties across the state, including Pitkin, experiencing an influx of cases.
According to Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock, county officials met with members of CDPHE Monday in anticipation of the county moving into the orange, high-risk category Wednesday.
“In order to stem what’s happening statewide but also avoid a full stay-at-home order like what we experienced back in March and April, the state is now proposing potentially adding another level to the state dial,” Peacock said during a Zoom meeting Monday afternoon. “It would be replacing the red level, and then having a new color for the stay-at-home level.”
Currently, the state’s COVID-19 dial has five levels, which counties fall into based on their number of new cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations. Those five levels include: green (Protect Our Neighbors), blue (Safer at Home: Cautious), yellow (Safer at Home: Concern), orange (Safer at Home: High Risk) and red (Stay at Home).
Pitkin County was scheduled to shift from the yellow to orange tier Wednesday, which would have forced restaurants, retail shops, gyms, places of worship and other sectors to switch from operating at 50% of their normal capacities to just 25%.
Now, exactly which color Pitkin County will end up in, when the change will occur and the restrictions that will follow remain in question.
“Again, none of this is finalized,” Peacock said. “We will probably not know for sure until, at the earliest, [Wednesday] whether the state is making these changes and what changes exactly will be made.”
A majority of the state’s 64 counties have already reported incidence rates that could put them in the red, stay-at-home order. According to Peacock, should the additional level come to fruition, those counties would be placed into it and follow its respective restrictions, which would be harsher than the state’s current safer-at-home, high-risk level but also be less stringent than the stay-at-home category. The new level would limit restaurant service to outdoor dining and takeout only — that is, no indoor dining, Peacock noted. Additionally, an 8 p.m. curfew would be implemented. Retail, however, would be allowed to operate at 50% capacity (as opposed to 25%) in the new level being discussed. Large indoor events would be prohibited.
“There is a lot more detail that we’d still be waiting on from the state,” Peacock said.
Peacock announced the news during a Zoom meeting Monday afternoon hosted by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Snowmass Tourism and the Aspen Skiing Co.
Should the state not implement a new color on its COVID-19 dial, Pitkin County will still move into the orange, high-risk level Wednesday as planned.