Pitkin County remains in Yellow level after state tweaks metrics
CDPHE change addresses swings in counties with less than 30,000 residents
With an influx of backlogged positive COVID-19 cases caused by lab delays in Texas, Pitkin County was hovering dangerously close Monday to returning to Orange-level restrictions.
However, a meeting with state public health officials Monday afternoon revealed new metrics for smaller population counties and good news, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock.
“Right now, we’re not getting moved to Orange,” Peacock said Monday after the meeting.
Pitkin County’s incidence rate for five out of the past six days was above 300, which is the cutoff between Yellow and Orange level restrictions. The backlogged results from the Texas lab saw 30 new cases added Wednesday to the county’s positive totals.
However, when taken by date of specimen collection, the county was only in the Orange level for one day, according to local epidemiology data.
During the conference call Monday, officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told Pitkin County public health officials about new metrics that will apply to counties with less than 30,000 residents, Peacock said.
Those metrics focus on the number of positive COVID-19 cases in a county during a seven-day period. To remain in Yellow, a county can have between 31 and 90 new cases in that week period, he said.
If a county with less than 30,000 people logs between 91 and 150 cases during a seven-day period, it would move to Orange, Peacock said. For the Blue level, counties can have between five and 30 cases in seven days.
Those metrics are new, Peacock said, and are meant to address elasticity problems smaller counties can have when case counts jump around and swing quickly from Yellow to Orange and back again.
Pitkin County has logged 63 new COVID-19 cases in the past seven days, according to the local data. That forced the seven-day incidence rate up to 360, well into Orange-level restrictions. The positivity rate, however, was at 3.6%, which remains in the Blue-level restrictions.
“They broadened the range for smaller counties,” Peacock said. “I think CDPHE was responding to concerns from smaller communities and resort communities.”
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A man suspected of making threats to Pitkin County officials via email has been arrested, officials said Wednesday afternoon.