COVID in Colorado: Vaccine phases, dial restrictions, mask mandates and more updates
Colorado has been easing COVID-19 public health restrictions in recent months — and is preparing to go even further — as infections have declined from the deadly late-2020 surge and more and more people get vaccinated against the virus.
It can be hard to keep track of all the changes, so here’s a roundup:
Who is eligible to be vaccinated now?
State officials first allowed frontline medical workers and residents of nursing homes and other senior care facilities to be vaccinated starting in December, then expanded that by age groups — first people 70 and up qualified, then that was lowered to 65 and then 60.
Earlier expansions also included moderate-risk health care workers, first responders, teachers and child care workers, grocery store employees and frontline agricultural workers, and people between the ages of 16 and 59 with two or more high-risk health conditions.
Starting last Friday, Colorado moved to Phase 1B.4 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, which made 2.5 million more people eligible for the shots. That includes anyone 50 or older, anyone with one high-risk health condition, and additional frontline workers.
The next stage, Phase 2, will make vaccines open to the general public, as early as mid-April.
READ MORE: Full list of who’s newly eligible for vaccination in Phase 1B.4
How do I find a vaccine appointment?
There is still far less supply than there is demand for COVID-19 vaccines, so it can be a struggle to find an appointment once you’re eligible. The state has set up a phone hotline to help people — 877-268-2926 — and other avenues include health care providers and participating pharmacies.
The state also is opening more and more mass-vaccination sites — though you still need appointments — and one enterprising Coloradan even built a website that finds and lists appointment openings at pharmacies across the state.
RESOURCES: How to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Colorado
What changes is Colorado making to COVID restrictions?
On Friday evening, Colorado’s health department proposed further changes to the state’s color-coded COVID-19 restriction dial, which will go into effect — with possible modifications — on Wednesday.
The changes make it easier for counties to move to Level Green, the lowest phase of the dial, and remove most restrictions in counties at that stage, including any limits on dining capacity at restaurants.
They also allow the reopening of bars in counties at Level Blue, covering much of the state, for the first time since last summer and lift all statewide limits on the size of personal gatherings.
Under this plan, the so-called “Dial 3.0” would remain in effect until April 16, at which point a new statewide public health order would be issued to continue limits on indoor, unseated gatherings. Beyond that, the dial and previous state public health orders would become guidance that local governments could choose to follow or not.
READ MORE: How Colorado will relax COVID restrictions under “Dial 3.0”
Is Colorado lifting the state’s mask mandate?
Under the “Dial 3.0” plan unveiled Friday, Colorado’s current statewide mask mandate will be allowed to expire April 4. But it will be replaced with a new modified order that will ease, but not eliminate, masking requirements across the state.
The new order would lift mask requirements in Level Green counites for everyone except for students in school who are 11 to 18 years old through the end of the academic year.
For counties at Levels Blue, Yellow, Orange and Red, the mask requirement would remain in place for that same group of students and for anyone in any indoor public places with 10 or more people present. The existing state mask order would remain in place for any counties reaching Level Purple, the highest phase on the dial.
Private businesses and local governments still could issue their own mask mandates.
READ MORE: Colorado to ease mask mandate in April
What color level is my county at right now?
As of Monday, two Colorado counties — Crowley and Otero — were at Level Green, the lowest level of restrictions, and 45 were at Level Blue, the second-lowest level. The remaining 17 counties were at Level Yellow, the next stage up the dial.
In the metro area, Jefferson and Arapahoe counties were at Level Blue, while Denver, Adams, Douglas and Boulder counties were at Level Yellow. Broomfield had moved to Level Blue but earlier this month was bumped back to Level Yellow.
Here are the state’s current level or restrictions by color, and the proposed changes that would take effect Wednesday.
MAP: Colorado’s color-coded COVID map
What do Colorado’s COVID metrics look like right now?
The Denver Post has been tracking a wide variety of COVID-19 data from the state, including numbers of infections, deaths and hospitalizations, and has broken down that information in county-by-county graphics and maps.
COVID TRACKER: How many new cases are being reported, and where are they?
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