Across Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, the “hottest spots” for the recent rise in cases are north Aurora and southwest Adams County — the region where Thornton, Northglenn, Federal Heights and unincorporated Adams County areas sit, according to John Douglas, Tri-County Health Department's executive director.
“But rates are up across the counties,” Douglas said on Oct. 16, adding that “all boats have been lifted.”
The workforce in Adams is much more likely to be “essential” workers that have to work in person, compared to other areas, Douglas said.
Those “hot spots” comprise a swath of metro Denver that is lower-income than much of the rest of Tri-County’s jurisdiction.
“There’s been a lot of observation of crowds at recreational sporting events,” Douglas said, adding that those crowds could be contributing to increased virus spread.
An Oct. 16 public health order for Adams County prohibits spectators at Colorado High School Activities Association-sanctioned sporting events and at adult recreational and league sports.
The announcement of further restrictions for Adams County came on the same day Colorado cut the limit for personal gatherings back down to 10 for most counties in the state, citing “an alarming increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19,” according to a state public-health department news release. The state also painted a dire picture of where the coronavirus’ trend could end up in the coming months. “To avoid increasing infections and strain on hospitals over the next three months, a substantial increase in transmission control will be needed,” the state public-health department said in another Oct. 23 news release.If Colorado remains on its current trajectory, it will likely exceed the April peak in hospitalizations for COVID-19 by mid-November, the news release said. Increases in contacts over the holidays will likely accelerate case growth, and intensive-care unit hospital capacity may be exceeded in December or January, it added.“The window to improve (the virus trend) is over the next several weeks to assure that critical care capacity is not stressed,” the release said.
UPDATE: The state public-health department updated its safer-at-home order on Oct. 27 to change restrictions on gyms in counties under safer-at-home level 3. Gyms in those counties will be allowed to operate with 25% capacity or 25 people, whichever is fewer, per room indoors or per designated activity area outdoors.
As Adams County continues to see a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases that has persisted for more than a month, the state public-health department announced it will move the county to the level of social distancing restrictions just short of a stay-at-home order, according to Tri-County Health Department.
The change means restaurants, other businesses, and indoor and outdoor events will see lower capacity, according to an Oct. 23 news release from Tri-County, the health agency for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.
“We understand it has been a very long year, but to avoid further restrictions from the health department, we need everyone in Adams County to pull together and do what needs to be done to get our numbers down,” Emma Pinter, Adams County Board of Commissioners chair, said in the news release. “Our goal is always to keep our businesses open and our communities thriving, but to do that, we need everyone to follow these new guidelines more closely than ever before.”
In mid-September, the state broke its safer-at-home policy into three levels that counties are placed under based on local COVID-19 spread. The safer-at-home order came after the statewide stay-at-home order this spring.
In recent weeks, Adams County’s status had been safer-at-home level 2 along with many other counties across Colorado.
But because the rate of virus spread in Adams is more than double the level needed to stay in level 2 and because hospitalizations are rising statewide, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will move the county into level 3, the most restrictive level other than a stay-at-home order in the state’s ladder of social distancing measures. The change for Adams was to take effect at 5 p.m. Oct. 28.
As of the morning of Oct. 23, Adams County’s rate of new cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks — referred to as the “incidence rate” — was about 445, more than twice the ceiling of 175 required to remain in safer-at-home level 2. It’s even far above the limit of 350 required to remain long-term in safer-at-home level 3. Adams’ high rate could put the county in stay-at-home order territory if the pattern does not break.
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have also risen among Adams residents over the past several weeks, similar to trends occurring across Colorado, according to the news release.
The announcement of new restrictions for the county comes on the heels of Adams 12 Five Star Schools district deciding to send high school and middle school students home on an online learning plan for the rest of the semester.
Adams’ move to safer-at-home level 3, according to the state’s safer-at-home policy, means the following:
• Restaurants may operate at 25% of the posted occupancy limit indoors or 50 people excluding staff, whichever is less, per room.
• Places of worship may operate at 25% of the posted occupancy limit indoors or 50 people excluding staff, whichever is less, per room. For outdoor worship services, a place of worship must maintain 6 feet between non-household members.
• Indoor events may allow up to 25 people based on the state’s social distancing space calculator per room, excluding staff, unless it’s a seated event, in which case the calculator is not required and 6 feet between non-household contacts is required.
• Outdoor events may allow up to 75 people based on the state’s social distancing space calculator, excluding staff, per designated activity or area, unless it’s a seated event, in which case the calculator is not required and 6 feet between non-household contacts is required.
• Gyms, recreation centers and indoor pools are not authorized to open for in-person services; virtual services may be provided.
• But outdoor recreation activities in groups of 10 people or fewer may occur, maintaining 6 feet between non-household contacts.
• Noncritical retail may operate at 25% of the posted occupancy limit. Critical retail includes businesses such as grocery stores and gas stations. See page 28 of the safer-at-home order for a full list.
• Normally, personal gatherings would be limited to 10 individuals from no more than two households, but under a Tri-County Health order issued Oct. 16 for Adams County, the limit is five for indoor gatherings and 10 for outdoor gatherings, in effect until Nov. 1 unless the order is amended or extended.
See which safer-at-home level each county is under here. See what restrictions each level includes here.
Tri-County Health warned earlier in October that Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties must slow the spread or face tighter restrictions.
The health agency's Oct. 16 public health orders for Arapahoe and Adams moved up the last call for alcohol and tightened limits on personal gatherings — and, for Adams, prohibited spectators at high school sporting events and at adult recreational and league sports.
Starting in early September, Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties saw their first notably sustained increases in rates of new COVID-19 cases since July, according to Tri-County data.
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