Routt County Public Health wants 2 weeks of level orange case levels before approving 5-Star program
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Routt County Board of Health will wait to sign off on the 5-Star certification program’s application to state health officials until the county has had two sustained weeks within the metrics for level orange on the state’s dial framework.
In order to receive state approval, the application needs to have a letter of support from the local public health authority as well as other community members. The letter from the board is the last piece of the application.
While businesses can currently apply to start the certification process, the county is not eligible for the benefits of the program until the two-week case totals drop below 89. With cases increasing locally, now up to 156 cases in the last two weeks, it will likely be weeks until the county qualifies for the program.
“I think we are a ways away from that happening,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said. “At tomorrow’s Board of Health meeting, I think we are going to see some disappointing numbers.”
Health officials cast a similar tone at the Steamboat Springs School Board meeting Monday saying cases are “skyrocketing” locally.
In last week’s Board of Health meeting, Roberta Smith, county public health director, outlined her intention to not sign off on the program until she had better data.
“This has been met with some consternation, especially on the part of the restaurant industry,” Corrigan said.
Restaurants and other business owners asked health officials to provide specifics about what they would require to move forward with the program.
In a memo to the Administrative Committee on Tuesday, the board clarified it would be “pleased to provide a letter of support,” when cases have been in level orange for two weeks. Once the application is submitted, it should be reviewed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment within three to five days, the memo states.
The 5-Star program is meant to reward restaurants and other businesses for instituting enhanced mitigation procedures by loosening capacity restrictions. If certified under the program, a restaurant could operated at 50% capacity rather than the 25% currently allowed at level orange.
Kara Stoller, co-chair of the Administrative Committee and CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber, said the news was good because it gives businesses clarity on when the program could be implemented.
There has been uncertainty around the program with changes to restrictions locally altering how long it might take for the county to be eligible for the relaxed restrictions. Stoller said this uncertainty may have led to businesses not being eager to apply for certification at first, but Tuesday’s clarification should give them more confidence in the program.
“I know that will give businesses more confidence in the program,” Stoller said. “I do believe that we will see an influx of applications with that note of support.”
She added that the application process for certification was rolled out during the holidays, which may have contributed to some businesses not submitting an application yet.
So far the committee has received almost 40 applications and has begun inspecting businesses. Commissioners have stressed the program does not need to be approved by the state for businesses to start implementing enhanced mitigation efforts, and some businesses have started putting those in place, Stoller said.
She said the community needs to focus on getting case counts down not only to keep the community healthy but to support the local economy.
“We need to take care of our community and public health, but we also need to acknowledge that businesses can’t survive at 25% for much longer,” Stoller said. “We really ask the community to do everything they can to help bring our case counts down as soon as possible, because that really is the key component.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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