Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) announced a series of new mitigation strategies to help curb the alarming spread of COVID-19 in the county. Strategies include issuing a new local Public Health Order 20-009 (PHO 20-009) that focuses on reducing opportunities for individuals to gather in public and private settings, and calling on all residents to do their part to help keep our community and economy healthy and open. The new public health order went into effect on October 30, and will continue until midnight on November 29, or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded or amended.
In the past two weeks, there have been 1,815 total cases of the virus in Jefferson County, or 311.3 per 100,000 residents (10/14-10/28). Over this same time period, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have also increased across the region by more than 80 percent. Additionally, Jefferson County’s two-week average positivity rate is 6.2 percent, which indicates the virus is widespread in our community and that there are likely more people with COVID-19 who haven’t been tested.
“We have continued to see cases of the virus increase across our county over the past months at very concerning rates, and have been out of compliance with the state’s two-week case count limits for Level 2 of the Dial Framework since October 16,” said Dr. Margaret Huffman, Director of Community Health Services at JCPH. “We have a brief window of opportunity to get our cases under control, or our county will be moved to Level 3 and face even more restrictions. I want to emphasize how critical these next couple of weeks are — we’ve seen other counties be moved on the Dial already, but that doesn’t have to be the path for Jeffco if we can all come together right now.”
Similar to trends in neighboring counties, gatherings among people who do not live in the same household have been a common source of exposure for Jeffco residents diagnosed with COVID-19. Evidence also shows that limiting interactions and gatherings among people slows virus transmission. Therefore, JCPH will relinquish its local variance and implement PHO 20-009, which does the following:
- Limits outdoor events to no more than 75 people and indoor events to no more than 25 people within their usable space as calculated by the Social Distancing Space Calculator. Events may no longer have more than one room, designated activity or area.
- Prohibits spectators at all high school sporting events, regardless of whether they are sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) and regardless of whether they take place at public, private or charter schools.
- Prohibits spectators at adult recreational and league sports.
- Ceases all alcohol beverage sales at 10 p.m. for restaurants, bars and breweries (that sell food) and similar venues.
In addition to the new Public Health Order, JCPH recently launched a community-wide campaign, “Together We Go Forward,” that calls on everyone to do their part to help keep our community open. The campaign highlights six individual actions that, when combined at a collective level, make a big difference and help protect our community’s health, safety and economy:
- Wear a mask to protect yourself and others.
- Watch your distance. Keep 6 feet or more apart. Avoid gatherings as much as possible.
- Wash your hands often. Scrub for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
- Stay home if you’re sick. Get well and don’t spread germs.
- Be kind to your neighbors. Remember we’re all working hard.
- Support local businesses. Keep them open by slowing the spread.
“We believe this mitigation approach balances a few things: doing what we have to do to help get our cases down and avoid even tighter restrictions, allowing businesses and schools to continue to operate, and providing our community tangible steps they can take to help forge a better path forward,” Huffman said. “We are hopeful that, by working together with our community, we will get a handle on this virus now so we can all go into the holiday season on a safer, healthier course.”