Jefferson, Larimer counties may scale back reopening as COVID-19 cases rise
Public health officials in at least two Colorado counties warn they may have to roll back some aspects of their reopening as novel coronavirus infections continue to rise in the state.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notified Larimer and Jefferson counties that they’re at risk of losing their variances, which allow local governments to loosen restrictions on certain events and businesses after they show progress in curtailing the spread of COVID-19.
“We must take swift, strategic action now to help keep our cases below the permitted threshold, so we do not have to take giant steps backwards in our county’s recovery efforts,” said Dr. Mark Johnson, executive director for Jefferson County Public Health, in a statement.
As a result, Jefferson County Public Health on Monday issued a new order requiring venues to receive approval from the agency before holding events with more than one designated activity, and which would have more than 100 people inside or 175 people outside, according to a news release.
The order, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday, comes weeks after Jefferson County Public Health said Bandimere Speedway violated social-distancing requirements at a July 4 event. A ruling in the court case stemming from that dispute is expected Tuesday morning.
Under its variance, Jefferson County has a limit of 580 new cases during a two-week period. The county reported 486 cases between July 5 and July 18, according to the news release.
Jeffco’s state variance, which was approved in June, affects the number of people allowed to gather, including in gyms, malls, breweries and houses of worship.
Larimer County’s variance was approved in May and covers the opening of gyms, theaters, bowling alleys, pools and other businesses. The variance will be rescinded if Larimer County confirms more than 25 new cases, or 10% of individuals tested on three separate days, during a two-week period.
The increase in COVID-19 cases in Larimer County is partly attributed to large gatherings during the July 4 weekend, according to a news release.
“I know that we will regroup and reverse this uptick,” said Tom Gonzales, Larimer County public health director, in a statement. “But in order to do that, we must all take this seriously and be diligent with handwashing, face coverings and social distancing. We must slow our case count to keep our businesses open.”
The county has two weeks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus or its variance could be modified or revoked, according to the news release.
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