by Mountain Mail Staff

County-level Public Health orders will be given precedence as state public health restrictions tied to the state’s COVID-19 dial framework change.

The dial is being phased out as a restriction tool as the landscape of COVID-19 evolves.

The change, prompted by increased vaccination rates and a decreasing threat to hospital capacity, allows counties to implement regulations on a local level while still maintaining some limited requirements across the state, a Chaffee County Public Health press release stated.

The dial is not going away yet. It will remain in place to serve as guidance to counties.

The state still recommends that businesses and other entities continue to follow best practices to stem the spread of the virus.

Among other considerations, the latest statewide public health order continues to require compliance with the governor’s executive order mandating face coverings in public.

Chaffee County’s response

Chaffee County Public Health responded to the state’s action with its own local public health order Friday emphasizing optimal vaccination rates, preventing a COVID-19 surge at local and regional hospital systems, continuing the mask mandate and focusing on indoor and outdoor event capacity.

Andrea Carlstrom, Chaffee county Public Health director and incident command for COVID-19 for more than a year, said, “In anticipation of the new and scaled back statewide public health order, Chaffee County Public Health, along with many stakeholders from our Leadership Roundtable, sector representatives, and medical community, have been working on a local public health order that takes into consideration virus transmission trends, vaccination rates, hospital capacity, and allowing for the majority of restrictions to be lifted while also strongly recommending that our county remain vigilant about wearing masks when appropriate, washing hands, maintaining physical distancing, staying home when sick, and getting tested when symptomatic.  

“We hope this new local order allows all of us to enjoy the things we have been looking forward to for over a year now while learning to live our lives amidst a pandemic.”

The new local public health order stipulates:

• Indoor event capacity shall be capped based on a six-foot social distancing requirement when considering the size of the venue. Maximum capacity for an indoor event shall be determined by utilizing the social distancing space calculator available at https://covid19.colorado.gov/distancing-calculator.

• Outdoor events held at venues with determinable boundaries shall be capped based on a three-foot social distancing requirement for the most-densely-populated portion of the venue in question.

• Outdoor events held at venues without fully-determinable boundaries shall be in accordance with the maximum capacities as set forth by the local government or municipality in which the event is held.

• Masks, except for exempted individuals and in certain settings, must be worn in indoor public spaces, regardless of how many people are present.

• If 85 percent or more of local or regional hospital bed capacity is reached due to COVID-19, public health will review opportunities for mitigation with a focus on the sectors of transmission rather than placing restrictions on all sectors.

• If Chaffee County reaches a 70 percent vaccination rate of the eligible county population, further lifting of restrictions will be considered.  Chaffee County is currently at 43.8 percent.

• Schools and school-related activities will continue to follow their specific guidance and requirements set forth by the state.

Chaffee County Public Health stated it recognizes the need for long-term planning for events and activities throughout the summer months.

Because of the consistency and continuity needed for event planning, the order is in effect and will continue to be in effect until midnight Aug. 31, unless it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing.

The order is subject to amendment at any time provided the circumstances change and local public health will review the current metrics and circumstances monthly to determine if such an amendment is necessary.

It is anticipated that over the upcoming days, public health will amend the local order to incorporate more details and respond to the dynamic local environment. 

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