Routt County tightens restrictions as cases surge
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County will move to Level 2 of the state’s Safer at Home dial Friday in an attempt by state and local health officials to get the most recent and largest spike of COVID-19 cases under control.
The move tightens restrictions for a variety of businesses and public spaces, going into effect at 8 a.m. Friday.
“We are moving to level 2 tomorrow morning given the number of cases we have had for the past three weeks,” Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan said in a statement. “We will do everything we can as the county, including stepped up enforcement, to keep our community safe. But we cannot do it without our citizens.”
County health officials have been in talks with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment for weeks about mitigation strategies to slow the spread of the virus’ third wave. Routt County has had more cases in the past three weeks than in the first two months of the pandemic.
Earlier on Thursday, about 50 people were in quarantine after having close contact with a positive COVID-19 case at Steamboat Springs High School, according to district superintendent Brad Meeks. There were two additional cases reported to the district Wednesday, but those students had not been at school and did not spark mass quarantines.
The wave in Routt County corresponds to a wave of cases across the country that has hit Colorado particularly hard.
Gov. Jared Polis said that one in every 100 Coloradans are currently contagious with COVID-19 in a news conference Thursday, emphasizing a wave that has surged hospitalizations to levels above previous highs from April, The Denver Post reported.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners have resisted putting harsher restrictions in place, favoring a strategy of increased communication and business checks in the hopes that it could curb the virus.
But they reversed themselves in a call with state health officials on Friday with each side agreeing the county needed to move to Level 2.
The new level lowers the capacity at restaurants, gyms, retail stores, places of worship and general events, and it closes bars. Personal gatherings are already limited to 10 people with people from no more than two different households.
Restaurants will now be limited to 50% capacity or 50 people, which ever is less. Gyms and other fitness facilities will be limited to 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is less. Indoor events and places of worship will be limited to 50% capacity or 100 people, which ever is less.
In the statement, Corrigan stressed that the spread of the virus in the community needs to be a community effort.
“If we don’t change our habits, we could lose more lives in our county, our winter season could be curtailed, our businesses may have to shut down again and our kids won’t be able to go to school,” Corrigan said.
Routt County has seen 61 new cases in the past three weeks, the largest surge in cases since the start of the pandemic, which does not include another 9 cases that state officials have reported in the county. The county counts cases differently than the state and updates its dashboard on Tuesday and Friday.
“COVID stops with you,” Corrigan said. “Wear a mask, stay six feet, wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, get tested and limit your social gatherings to two households and less than ten people.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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