Confidently it can prevent large-scale deaths and advance an overwhelmed hospital system, preparing to relax restrictions even in Colorado counties where the rate of coronovirus cases remains high.
On a call Saturday with city and county leaders, state officials presented a new guideline for more liberal county-level regulations, with more changes planned in mid-2021.
The change would allow for greater economic and social freedom, reflecting the state’s belief that it could save hospitals from overcrowding with cases, as Colorado’s oldest and most at-risk population is slowly getting vaccinated.
“Coloradoans have made significant sacrifices to reduce disease transmission, so it’s time to update the dial to reflect this reality, as well as increasing numbers of people who get vaccinated,” Colorado Department of Public Jill Hansker Ryan, director of Health and Environment, said in a statement after a call with government leaders.
According to several sources, who were on Saturday’s call, but who were not authorized to share the information they received, the draft proposal for Dial 2.0 would announce a change in policy from the governor’s office over the next few days, perhaps on Wednesday . Earlier, it plans to seek public input.
The state is plotting Dial 3.0 in March, with another possible dial update a few months later.
Colorado has a color-coded dial, ranging from green (most generous) to purple (most severe), which determines the capacity level and social behavior in the county, depending on the level of transmission of the virus in those counties. The restrictions associated with each color are not scheduled to change to Dial 2.0, but the state plans to relax metric requirements.
For example, to qualify for Level Orange – the current level for most Colorado counties, and the third most restrictive on the dial – the county has an incidence rate of new positive COVID-19 cases between 175 and per 100,000 people needed. Over 350 per 100,000, and is eligible for a county level red. Under Dial 2.0, counties will qualify for Level Orange if their incidence rate is as high as 499 per 100,000. The current level red threshold is defined as above 350 per 100,000 people, and will be bumped to 500 in Dial 2.0.
The current dial also prohibits restrictions from 14-day samples, and under Dial 2.0, it is set to change to seven days – meaning a county changes the dial more quickly as its metrics change Can move up or down.
In addition, counties with less than 20,000 residents may receive “special consideration” for their weekly variability in positivity rates.
Virus cases are high here, with the latest state estimate being 1 in 115 infectives with COVID-19. Public health officials are also wary of new and more contagious forms of the virus, some of which have been found in Colorado.
At a press conference on Friday, Gov. Jared Polis told reporters that he expected half of the coloreds over the age of 70 to be vaccinated on February 8, the date by which the state’s 65-69 population is to begin immunization. Once the oldest coloradans are vaccinated, it ends the “crisis phase” of the epidemic. Polis was not on Saturday’s call; He said that he is being vaccinated today.
Local officials were given the opportunity to ask questions and respond, and a source on the call said, “Generally, we understand why these changes are being made. … We all have a lot of questions to focus on two things: one, understanding how to keep our communities safe, and two, how to give our businesses as much freedom as possible. “
Trai County Health Department Executive Director Drs. John Douglas said that the time is right for a change.
“It is a useful tool to help us manage our response to the epidemic, but it needs to be updated based on the lessons learned over the past five months,” he said in the prepared statement.
Colorado already changed the dial once, adding to the Level Purple in November, a spike between cases and deaths. The state has not always followed its own rules, sometimes allowing flexibility for counties when metrics did not justify it.
State officials sought brief and concrete responses from county and city leaders, and public health directors on Saturday and would seek input from the public through an online survey.
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