Pitkin County moving back to Orange-level restrictions starting Wednesday, state says
The state will move Pitkin County back to Orange-level restrictions starting Wednesday because of increasing COVID-19 case numbers, according to a news release afternoon from the county Monday.
State public health officials have previously said that if two of the three metrics they track were within Orange levels for five days, they would move the county from Yellow to Orange. In order for that to happen, the seven-day average number of cases must remain under 90, the positivity rate must remain below 7.5% and there cannot be more than two COVID hospital admissions on any one day.
According to data reported on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, Pitkin County’s case counts have been above 90 every day between March 16 and Sunday. The county’s positivity rate has been above 7.5% on all of those days as well, with the rate rising above 10% on three of those days, according to county news release Monday.
Pitkin County’s fifth day in Orange-level numbers occurred Saturday, said Kara Silbernagel, a county spokeswoman. State officials called county public health officials Friday to warn them of the possible move, though the follow-up did not occur until Monday, she said. County officials will receive an official letter from the state notifying them of the move Tuesday.
The move to Orange will occur at 6 a.m. Wednesday.
The state will move Pitkin County back to Yellow only when the county’s case numbers and positivity rate remain in Yellow levels for seven consecutive days, Silbernagel said Monday. State public health officials will notify the county of the move on the eighth day and officially move the county to Yellow on the ninth day, she said.
However, the Yellow-level metrics must occur for seven consecutive days. If the county is in Yellow for six days and goes to Orange on the seventh, the process starts all over again, Silbernagel said.
Orange-level restrictions mean restaurants must limit patrons to 25% of capacity with a maximum of 50 people and a midnight last call for alcohol. Offices, gyms, personal services, limited health care settings and indoor and outdoor events also are limited to 25% capacity.
Personal gatherings are limited to 10 people from two households, which is the same as Yellow-level restrictions. Retail businesses can continue to operate at 50% capacity.
5-Star businesses in Pitkin County will be able to operate under Yellow-level restrictions once the county moves to Orange, Silbernagel said Monday. All other businesses must follow Orange-level capacity limits as outlined by the state.
“Moving to level Orange is a clear indication that the pandemic is not over yet. Despite COVID fatigue we must continue to be vigilant in order to turn around the transmission of this virus in Pitkin County,” Interim Public Health Director Jordana Sabella said in the news release. “We are asking our community to remain committed.”
On Friday, Sabella sent an email to restaurant owners and operators warning them of spring break crowds and reminding them that restaurants may only serve alcohol beverages while the kitchen is operating; establishments are not allowed to stop food service and remain open as a bar as that would be considered “an egregious violation of the Public Health Order and will results in an immediate closure of the business,” said the email.
Failure to follow the requirements can include a fine of as much as $5,000 and as long as 18 months in the county jail, Sabella’s email stated.