San Juan County, Colorado, was moved down to Level Yellow on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID-19 dial, which the state describes as its “concern” level for the novel coronavirus.
La Plata and Archuleta counties moved to Level Blue, the state’s “caution” level for the virus Saturday.
According to a Facebook post by DeAnne Gallegos, spokeswoman for San Juan County, “San Juan County was dialed down to Yellow as of 9 a.m. Saturday on the CDPHE COVID-19 dashboard. CDPHE is still monitoring mountain ski towns as they are trending up as the rest of the state is trending down.”
Moving to Level Yellow means restaurants can have 50% of capacity in indoor dining rooms or 50 people in their indoor dining rooms, whichever is fewer. Tables in restaurants still must remain 6 feet apart.
In addition, the last call for alcohol moves to 11 p.m. from 10 p.m.
San Juan County moved down from Level Orange, or “high risk” status, under CDPHE’s COVID-19 dial.
Indoor events also are now allowed to have 50% of a building’s capacity.
Gallegos noted practices to minimize the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to COVID-19, must still be followed. Still in place in San Juan County are requirements for the use of face masks in public places and social distancing of 6 feet as well as recommendations that people frequently wash their hands and use sanitizer.
CDPHE updated the state’s COVID-19 dial, with changes going into effect Saturday morning.
Speaking of La Plata County and Archuleta County’s move to Level Blue, Brian Devine, deputy incident commander for COVID-19 at San Juan Basin Public Health told The Durango Herald: “We’ve seen favorable metrics in terms of cases, hospitalizations and deaths for the last several weeks. We had a little bit of a spike after Christmas and New Year’s, but that had turned around, and we were making good progress on our metrics.
“The state then decided to change the metrics that represent the boundaries between each level of the dial, and the main effect of that is that higher incidence rates are now allowed in each level of the dial, but the positivity rates that represent the boundaries between levels are lower.”
Changes to the state’s dial put a little more emphasis on testing and on testing continuing to be available, Devine said, but they also allow counties to have a higher burden of disease before moving into new levels of restrictions. The dial now bases changes on a week’s worth of COVID-19 metrics rather than 14 days, enabling counties to move more quickly between levels.
While this can help counties move into less restrictive levels faster, it can also have the opposite effect, he said.
Devine emphasized that lowering threat levels to the coronavirus should not be taken as evidence that practices to minimize spread of the virus like mask wearing, social distancing, frequent hand washing and monitoring for symptoms could be relaxed.
“I don’t want anybody to think that the pandemic is over,” he said.