New COVID deaths confirmed in Garfield County, including 8 total at two Rifle nursing homes |

New COVID deaths confirmed in Garfield County, including 8 total at two Rifle nursing homes

Garfield County now has 18 confirmed deaths attributed to COVID-19, including six newly confirmed deaths at two Rifle nursing homes where outbreaks have occurred.

Two additional deaths that were still pending a coroner’s investigation Thursday morning were added to the confirmed list later in the day, according to the latest statistics posted to the county’s COVID-19 data web page.

Outbreaks at the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home and E. Dene Moore Care Center, both located in Rifle, have grown to include 32 and 24 resident cases, respectively, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health Wednesday update on outbreaks statewide.

Five deaths are being reported at the state Veterans Home and three at E. Dene Moore. Two additional deaths at the Veterans Home were confirmed and reported last week.

A total of 57 staff members between the adjacent, but separately operated, facilities have also tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreaks were first reported in November. The Veterans Home is operated by the Colorado Department of Human Services, and E. Dene Moore is operated by Grand River Health.

A new Garfield County outbreak was also reported Wednesday by the state, at the Mountain Valley Developmental Services Pitkin House group home. Two residents and one staff member there have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the state’s outbreak data page.

In addition, the Garfield County is reporting its highest two-week total of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in March — 761 during the period from Nov. 27-Dec. 10.

At the same time, the county’s COVID-19 test positivity rate still hovers below the state’s Level Red designation of 15% — currently at 13.2%.

And, the county’s hospital capacity, as of Thursday, has moved back into the Level Yellow cautious/concerned range, after being at Level Red since earlier in the month.

Level Red restrictions imposed

Those are the latest statistics behind a worrisome trend in Garfield County that, as of 5 p.m. Thursday, officially moved the county to Level Red restrictions on the state’s COVID-19 dial.

That technically brings with it tighter restrictions on businesses, events and social gatherings in the county and its six municipalities — the subject of a special Board of County Commissioners/Board of Health Thursday afternoon to discuss the county’s response.

The city of Glenwood Springs, in a Thursday morning news release, acknowledged the move to Level Red restrictions and issued its response.

Level Red is the second-strictest level on the state dial short of Stay at Home orders, as were in place in March and April.

It maintains current capacity of 50% for both critical and noncritical retail businesses, but requires restaurants to suspend indoor dining and limit business to takeout service and open-air dining for family/household groups only.

In addition, no personal gatherings outside households are to take place, and several other business sectors are required to operate at reduced levels.

Level Red Restrictions

• Indoor dining closed but restaurants can offer take out, to go or delivery. Outdoor open-air dining is allowed with members of the same household.

• Bars that don’t serve food must be closed.

• Offices limited to 10% capacity, with remote work strongly encouraged.

• Gyms/indoor recreation limited to 10% capacity or up to 10 people with reservations.

• Entertainment and indoor event venues must be closed.

• Unseated outdoor events are limited to 25% capacity or 75 people (whichever is fewer).

• Indoor in-person public gatherings (e.g. meetings, shows, exhibits) are not allowed.

• Child care facilities may remain open with standard ratios.

Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

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