More COVID-19 cases in Dolores County has moved it to Level Orange on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment COVID-19 risk assessment dial.
And in Montezuma County, Southwest Health System announced that the hospital reached full capacity Dec. 14, with 21 patients, 11 of which are hospitalized because of COVID-19.
Adjustments were made to allow for additional capacity and to continue scheduled surgeries. Southwest Memorial Hospital has a plan to expand up to 38-bed capacity, but staffing would become a challenge with the additional patients.
As of Dec. 17, Dolores County recorded its 45th positive case since the pandemic began, up from 24 positive cases Dec. 2, an increase of 88%.
As of Dec. 13, the county of 2,078 people had 10 active cases, according to Dolores County Public Health.
Level Orange allows for continued indoor restaurant dining at 25% occupancy, or up to 50 customers, whichever is fewer. Last call for service is 10 p.m.
The previous Level Yellow allowed for 50% occupancy for indoor restaurant dining, and last call was 11 p.m.
Restriction levels are determined by the degree of COVID-19 spread, defined by two-week cumulative incidence and two-week average positivity and by decreasing or stable hospitalizations.
Dolores County was moved to Level Orange on Dec. 11. CDPHE cited a two-week cumulative incidence rate of 1,129/100,000 people, a 21.5% positivity rate, and a two-week COVID-19 new case count of 23.
On Dec. 1, the county’s incidence rate was 736/100,000 people, a positivity rate of 16.7%, and a two-week new case count of 15.
“Given the increase in incidence rate, case count and percent testing positivity, an implementation of additional restrictions is warranted at this time,” states a Dec. 10 letter from CDPHE to county health officials.
On Dec. 11, Dolores County Public Health was informed that 100 COVID-19 vaccines have been allocated to launch phase I of distribution to the county. While the state of Colorado is requesting enough vaccines to provide for all residents, shipping is allocated proportionally based on supply chain and demand. The phased approach to vaccine distribution, which will take months, is aimed at saving as many lives as possible while ending the pandemic crisis as soon as possible, health officials said.
“It is the responsibility of all our visitors and citizens to work to keep our county from moving to Red,” Dolores County Health said in a statement. “We realize how difficult it will be especially with the holiday season but we know you can do it. Please wear a mask, use social distancing, wash your hands and stay home when sick. Our county has always been known to work together to achieve goals. Our goal is to keep our children in school, keep a healthy community and keep our businesses open. We appreciate all of you and your effort.”
On Dec. 13, CDPHE reported a COVID-19 outbreak at the Dolores County Road and Bridges Department.
Two staff have tested positive, and one staff member is listed as probable positive, according to CDPHE outbreak data.
CDPHE defines an “outbreak” of COVID-19 as two or more people who contract the virus in a single location within 14 days.
CDPHE lists updated outbreaks every Wednesday. No new outbreaks were reported for Montezuma County.
As of Dec. 16, there have been 1,028 positive cases since the pandemic began, up from 762 cases on Dec. 2, a 35% increase. There are 601 active cases, and 414 have recovered.
In a Dec. 15 status report, Southwest Health System CEO Tony Sudduth reported that Southwest Memorial Hospital was at full capacity on Dec. 14 with 21 patients, 11 of which are hospitalized because of COVID-19.