Rising COVID-19 numbers jeopardize Larimer County’s Safer at Home Level 1 status

Larimer County Health Department issues an Emergency Public Health Order to help suppress the virus

In response to recent increases in COVID-19 case rates, test positivity and hospitalizations, the Larimer County Health Department is implementing critical measures designed to slow the spread of the virus in Larimer County.

The Emergency Public Health Order, which goes into effect at 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, requires the following changes for Larimer County residents and businesses:

  1. Recreational sports will be limited to players who reside in Larimer County and neighboring counties (Weld, Boulder).
  2. Organized recreational and league sports are limited to 2 spectators per player with no more than 50% of capacity, up to 100 spectators in indoor facilities and 175 in outdoor facilities. All teams and facilities participating in recreational and league sports must submit complete rosters, schedules, location of games/practices and contact information (to include names, phone numbers and email addresses) of all team members or parents of youth who participate prior to the teams playing in any league events, including practice. Failure of parents, facilities, coaches and/or team organizers to cooperate with contact tracing may result in the league or season being suspended or cancelled.
  3. Personal indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people from no more than two separate households.
    1. Nothing in this order prohibits the gathering of members living in the same household.
    2. Nothing in this order limits or prohibits access to voting centers or to locations where individuals are attempting to register to vote or vote early, or when individuals are accessing ballot drop off sites.
  4. Restaurants and bars as permitted to operate per CDPHE Order 20-35 shall cease alcohol beverage sales to consumers for on-premises consumption and for takeout at 11:00 P.M.
  5. All Non-Critical Office-Based Businesses are encouraged to further increase remote work options and reduce in-person work to the greatest extent possible.

There are several reasons for these measures. First, Larimer County has seen an increase in cases associated with recreational sports, and a difficulty in interjurisdictional contact tracing tied to large tournaments and events bringing in players from outside the county. Second, Larimer County Health Department’s contact tracing investigations have revealed that many people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have attended private gatherings, where they were either unknowingly infectious to others or were directly exposed to someone with COVID-19. Third, limiting the sale of alcohol has been an effective step in other jurisdictions, including statewide, following restrictions over the summer. Fourth, we are seeing a growing number of outbreaks across the county, many of which are related to places of employment.

“We need to implement these targeted strategies to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in Larimer County, thus reducing illness and a potential surge on the medical system; while avoiding further restrictions on our schools, businesses and places of worship,” says Larimer County Public Health Director Tom Gonzales. “I know we are all tired of this and have pandemic fatigue, but we cannot let our guard down just yet. I have no doubt that we will rally again and reduce transmission just like we did in May and July.”
There is substantial evidence of the continued spread of COVID-19 throughout Larimer County. As of October 23, 2020, Larimer County has a two-week incidence rate of 193/100,000 population, and a two-week test positivity rate of 4.1%. This current incident rate is significantly higher than on September 16, 2020 where the incident rate was at 74/100,000 population, and a test positivity rate of 2.4%. Also, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Larimer County have increased to a level that hasn’t been observed since May 19, 2020.

“It is critical that we wear masks and maintain social distancing and follow these protocols in order to keep our businesses open and maintain in-person learning in our schools,” says Larimer County Commissioner Steve Johnson. “These guidelines have worked before and if we all pitch in and work together on this they will work again and we will get through this.”

The County currently sits at Safer at Home Level 1 of Colorado’s Dial Framework. A retreat to Level 2 would trigger a range of new restrictions, including tighter capacity limits on offices, businesses, restaurants and houses of worship; group sports, gyms and bars; and even on certain outdoor activities.

“Now is the time each of us need to increase our diligence to ‘Keep NOCO Open’. As a community, we need to strictly follow the basic health guidelines to protect each other and to keep our businesses open,” said Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell, “ I know that the Fort Collins community can step up at this time to get COVID19 positive cases back down.”

“It is critical that our Loveland Community do our part to bring down our cases of Covid. We are a community of diverse people who care about each other, our community and who care about the resiliency of our businesses,” says Loveland Mayor Jacki Marsh. “Let’s work together to bring our case numbers down and to defeat Covid-19.”

Information about COVID-19 is constantly changing, and the public health response adjusts as more is learned about this virus. While there is plenty of news and media information available, LCDHE is encouraging Larimer County residents to view the latest credible information on COVID-19 at www.larimer.org/coronavirus or www.CDC.gov/coronavirus. Additionally, residents are encouraged to follow LCDHE’s Facebook and Twitter accounts at @LarimerHealth

Kat Hart

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