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Free COVID-19 testing coming to Glenwood Springs starting Monday

A new free Covid-19 testing site is being set up in the Roaring Fork School District office parking lot in Glenwood Springs, and is to open Monday, Nov. 23.

A coalition of community partners, including Garfield County Public Health and the Roaring Fork School District, plan to bring free Covid-19 testing to a designated site in Glenwood Springs starting on Monday, Nov. 23.

The new Roaring Fork Valley drive-up Covid testing site is being set up in the parking lot between Glenwood Springs High School and the District Office, 1405 Grand Ave. (east of the student lot).

Hours are slated from 7–11 a.m., Monday through Friday, until further notice. No doctor referral is required, but appointments are necessary to be tested. Schedule an appointment here [www.rfvcovidtest.com].

The testing site is being organized by the same coalition of community partners that have been operating the free testing site in El Jebel at the Eagle County Community Center.

Testing turnaround time is approximately 48 hours.

“This is a service in collaboration with our state and local community partners to increase access to Covid testing in the Roaring Fork Valley,” reads a statement on the rfvcovidtest.com website. “Please remember that testing is not a substitute for an examination by your own primary care provider.”

According to the website, partners include the school district, the public health departments of Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Dr. Brooke Allen of Roaring Fork Neurology, the town of Basalt, Basalt Mayor Bill Kane, the Eagle County Community Center and MicrogenDx.

jstroud@postindependent.com

State steps in to move Garfield County to ’high risk’ orange level on Covid dial

Tighter restrictions on business activity and public and private gatherings are now in effect in Garfield County, after the state acted Thursday to move the county to the “high risk” category on the Covid-19 dial.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) formally moved Garfield County into the orange, or “high-risk” category, based on the state’s metrics tool to determine pandemic restrictions.

County commissioners, in a special meeting with CDPHE Chief of Staff Mara Brosy-Wiwchar on Tuesday, made an appeal to remain in the yellow, or “concerned” category, saying it more accurately reflects the situation in Garfield County.

Not all of the restrictions that would normally come with the state’s orange level will be in effect for Garfield County, though, according to a news release from the county announcing the new limits.

Current variances will remain in place, including those for the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort and Iron Mountain Hot Springs, as well as the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

Restaurants and retail shops are still allowed to operate at 50% capacity, though outdoor seating for restaurants is limited to 10 people, 6 feet apart. Places of worship may also continue to operate at the yellow level of 50% capacity, or up to 175 people, depending on building space.

However, restaurant liquor sales must end at 10 p.m. under the new restrictions.

The orange-level restrictions also limit public and private gatherings to no more than 10 people from no more than two households; in-person office occupancy of no more than 25%, with remote work encouraged; indoor and outdoor events are limited to 25% of posted occupancy, or 50 and 75 people, respectively, whichever is less.

Personal services are also limited to 25% occupancy, or 25 people, whichever is less.

And, organized recreational youth or adult indoor sports are not allowed. However, outdoor events may proceed with groups of 10 or less, as long as participants are practicing safe social distancing.

New variance requests are also prohibited until the county is back at the yellow level, according to the release.

Municipalities may also implement more stringent measures, but none less strict than those at the orange level.

County commissioners had argued that Garfield County has worked with the public and with businesses to promote the practices of mask-wearing, maintaining a safe distance from other people, hand-washing and using good hygiene.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky warned that further limiting economic activity would be both financially damaging and unduly punitive.

“It is not right to put this on small businesses” he said. “Our public health department has done a good job of mitigation.”

Further, Jankovsky said there’s a psychological impact from being asked to roll back to tighter restrictions.

“We are having a mental health crisis,” he said.

Garfield County, with a population of roughly 58,000 people, on Thursday reported 395 new positive cases (equates to 659 per 100,000 people) from Nov. 5 to Nov. 18, and a test positivity rate of 12.4%. Orange status is in effect if a county experiences more than 175 to 350 cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period. or a test positivity rate of no more than 15%.

Hospital capacity also remains at a comfortable level in the county, though hospital officials warn that can change quickly.

“Limiting the disease’s spread is encouraged by having residents practice safety guidelines of wearing masks, washing their hands often, limiting travel as much as possible, and above all, staying home when ill,” the release states.

The full list of restrictions and variances under level orange as it will be applied in Garfield County can be found on the county’s public health orders webpage, at www.garfield-county.com/public-health/executive-orders.