Specimens collected through Valley View — 18,817 (+160 since 1/19)
Positive results — 1,577 (+15 since 1/19)
Pending results — 45
Hospitalizations since outbreak began — 208 (+3 since 1/19)
Patients discharged (incl. transfers and deceased) — 183 (1 since 1/19)
Grand River Hospital, 1/21/2021
Specimens collected through Grand River Health — 6,290 (+50 since 1/19)
Positive results — 1,037 (+7 since 1/19)
Pending results — 62
Hospitalizations since outbreak began — 40 (1 new since 1/19)
Patients discharged — 27
Patients transferred — 12
Source: Hospital statistics released twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday
ACTIVE OUTBREAKS IN GARFIELD COUNTY
Rifle State Correctional Center: Date determined, 12/31 (updated 1/20); 3 residents and 2 staff positive, one staff probable.
Mesa Vista Assisted Living, Battlement Mesa: Date determined, 12/21 (updated 1/20); 3 residents and 8 staff positive cases.
Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home, Rifle: Date determined, 11/3 (updated 1/20); 15 confirmed resident deaths, 41 confirmed resident cases and 1 probable; 49 confirmed staff cases and 3 probable.
Grace Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Glenwood Springs: Date determined, 1/16 (updated 1/20); 2 residents positive and 1 probable.
Renew Roaring Fork, Glenwood Springs: Date determined, 11/25 (updated 1/20); 2 residents and 2 staff confirmed positive.
Mountain Valley Developmental Services, Pitkin House, Glenwood Springs: Date determined, 11/30 (updated 1/20); 2 residents confirmed positive and 1 probable among staff.
New Castle City Market: Date determined, 11/22 (updated 1/20); 5 confirmed and 7 probable staff positive.
Recently resolved/closed cases: E. Dene Moore Care Center, Rifle; New Creation Preschool, New Castle; Heritage Park Care Center, Carbondale; Carbondale City Market; Garfield County Community Corrections
Limited supply slows rollout of COVID vaccination in Garfield County
Garfield County’s healthcare network easily has the capacity to administer twice as many COVID-19 vaccinations than it has given so far, Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long said Monday.
The problem, she said, is that the county has only received about half the doses requested from the state of Colorado, which in turn relies on vaccine distribution at the federal level.
“That continues to be a struggle and a challenge for all of us, at the state and federal level, which then comes down to the local level,” Long said during a vaccine update to county commissioners Monday morning.
Long addressed concerns expressed by many residents of the county that the vaccine rollout locally has been slow.
Many of those now eligible to receive the vaccine, including people age 70 and older, have been put on long wait lists or not even wait-listed at all until more vaccines are available.
“We just have way more people who want the vaccine than there is vaccine available,” she said. “Right now, it’s just sort of a game of persistence and patience.”
Hospitals also don’t want to run a wait list out more than a couple of weeks without a better idea of the state distribution schedule, she said.
Through last Friday, and since the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were first made available in mid-December, Garfield County has received 3,715 doses.
However, because the viles often contain an extra dose, the county’s two hospitals, Valley View in Glenwood Springs and Grand River in Rifle, have been able to administer 4,092 doses, Long said.
“We’re not willing to waste or not use any vaccines in this county,” she said.
The challenge continues to be on the supply side, with only between 200 and 600 doses typically available per week, Long said, including 400 doses this week.
“That’s nothing to be able to start any sort of mass vaccination program … and doesn’t go very far when we have to consider second doses right now.”
During one recent week, she said the county had requested 8,000 doses, and was fully prepared to administer that many, Long said. It received 300 that particular week, she said.
Of the vaccines administered in Garfield County to date, about 2,000 have gone to frontline health-care workers and first responders, and about 1,860 have gone to the 70-plus age group — both part of the 1A priority group, Long said.
For the 70-plus group, that represents about 30% to 40% of the county’s population in that age range, not including residents in long-term care facilities, Long said.
All but three long-term care facilities have had their residents fully vaccinated at this point through separate contracts with Walgreens and CVS, she said. Vaccines for nursing and other group home settings are handled directly through the state, Long explained.
Not ready for expansion
Nationally, the vaccine has been opened up to other frontline critical workers falling in the 1B group, such as teachers and other school workers, as well as extending the age to 65 and older. However, Colorado is not yet able to accommodate those groups, Long clarified.
That led to some confusion last week, when those age 65-70 in Garfield County began inquiring about receiving the vaccine.
Valley View Hospital and Grand River Health are continuing to follow the state priorities of vaccinating people 70 and older before any expansion to those 65 and older.
“People that are 70-plus in age will need to make appointments with local hospitals to receive the vaccine,” Garfield County Public Health said in a statement issued last Wednesday. “Appointments are only being made as the vaccine is available.”
The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of Colorado’s 70-plus population by Feb 28.
In Garfield County, more than 200 second doses have already been administered in the county, she said. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require a second dose.
Valley View Hospital reported in a Friday Facebook post that it had received just 100 new doses for this week.
“This is extremely disappointing, as we know that every vaccine is a possible life saved,” it said in the post. “The supply of vaccine that we receive is unfortunately outside of our control.”
Until further notice, Valley View is not able to reopen its wait list due to the limited supply, it said.
County commissioners heard from one member of the public, Ann Faulk of Glenwood Springs, who suggested the county set up an electronic alert system to let people know when appointments are being taken and for which priority groups.
She also suggested that, in addition to the two hospital vaccine sites, the county also consider setting up some community vaccination clinics once the vaccine is more readily available to avoid backlogs.
Long said the state is working to launch a statewide notification system. In the meantime, she encouraged eligible residents to continue calling the nearest hospital — Valley View at 970-384-7632, or Grand River at 970-625-1100 — to see when appointments are being scheduled.
Public Health workers have also been available to assist people with the online scheduling, she said. But she encouraged the public to also lend a helping hand if they know of anyone who may be having troubles with computer or internet access.
Long also advised those who have received the vaccine or are in the process to receive a second dose to not let their guard down when it comes to public health precautions, including wearing masks.
Just because someone is vaccinated against COVID-19 doesn’t mean they couldn’t potentially be a carrier of the virus, putting unvaccinated contacts at risk, Long said.
Also, anyone who has had COVID-19 or tested positive but was asymptomatic should still get vaccinated, she said.
Long said the weekly vaccine numbers for Garfield County, which are reported each Friday, will be added to the county COVID-19 data webpage.
Judge denies Aspen restaurant group’s request to stop Red-level restrictions
A judge denied an Aspen-area restaurant group’s eleventh-hour attempt to suspend a public health order that takes effect Sunday prohibiting indoor dining in Aspen, Snowmass Village and the rest of Pitkin County.
Ninth Judicial District Judge Anne Norrdin’s ruling late Friday afternoon was a setback for the newly formed Pitkin County Restaurant Alliance, a nonprofit that filed a complaint and motion Thursday to stop the order’s implementation through a court-ordered temporary restraining order.
Restaurants have until 10 p.m. Saturday to serve their last meals indoors — that is until case counts go down and the board of heath downgrades orders to Orange levels or below.
“We’re disappointed,” alliance attorney Chris Bryan said. “This means all restaurants in Pitkin County are going to have to come to a grinding halt.”
The alliance argued Monday’s decision by the board of health to close indoor dining would cripple the local restaurant industry and put more than 1,500 people out of work. As well, the alliance said the board made its decision without conclusive evidence that closing restaurants to indoor dining would help stem the spread of COVID-19 cases locally.
Norrdin’s ruling noted courts are typically reluctant to usurp government orders without hearing from the defendants, who in this case are Pitkin County, the board of health and interim public health director Jordan Sabella.
“The court declines to act … without first hearing from the Defendants, to intervene in the manner sought in an area fraught with medical and scientific uncertainties and where Pitkin County officials appear to be shaping their response to changing facts on the ground,” the ruling said.
Outdoor dining, takeout and delivery at restaurants still will be available, though there will be an 8 p.m. last call and tables can only have people from the same household.
Norrdin’s decision does not put an end to the alliance’s legal challenge to the county’s newest health order. The defendants still must formally answer its lawsuit that seeks to lift the Red order through a permanent injunction. The suit also seeks judicial review of the health board’s order and a declaratory judgment that the county cannot enforce the order.
“The Court understands and recognizes the difficulty and hardship created by the pandemic, which has threatened and taken lives and livelihoods,” the judge’s decision said. “However, the Court does not find the sought ex parte intervention in public health decision-making without hearing from representatives of public health officials to be an appropriate use of its authority under the circumstances.”
Bryan issued a statement on behalf of the alliance, which said: “The alliance thanks Judge Norrdin for her expedited attention to this important matter. Although the alliance is disappointed the court denied its request for a temporary restraining order delaying implementation of the new public health order until a formal hearing could be scheduled, the alliance appreciates Judge Norrdin’s order requiring the defendants to respond timely to its pleadings and further requiring a preliminary injunction hearing to be set so the Alliance’s claims may be heard. The Alliance remains confident the new public health order will be invalidated due to its numerous underlying faults and looks forward to its day in court.”
On Tuesday, the day after the board of health’s decision to go Red, the Pitkin County Alliance filed articles of incorporation for a nonprofit corporation with the Colorado secretary of state. Bryan said the group consists of “over two dozen” restaurants. The alliance’s complaint does not identify its member restaurants because “we don’t want anybody to be retaliated against,“ Bryan said.
Among the restaurants not in the group include Jimmy’s An American Bar and Grill, whose co-owner has been one of the most vocal operators opposed to health orders going into the Red phase.
That co-owner, Jimmy Yeager, issued a statement Friday about its decision not to litigate.
“We, Jimmy’s Restaurant, made the decision to not officially join the efforts of the restaurant alliance in asking for a judicial review despite our fervent moral support for the action and our profound disappointment in the decision by the Board of Health. In the past 10 months we have worked hard to assist the county in their decisions by providing perspective and the ‘how to’ for restaurants to provide a safe dining experience. We have earned a seat at the table and a place in the conversation. Should we have been a plaintiff, it would have jeopardized our ability to continue in this role. We will be moving forward and requesting time at the next meeting to have a robust conversation about their decision and what needs to happen next. We have acted only in good faith and expect to be treated with the same mutual respect.”
County Manager Jon Peacock said Friday the alliance is well within its rights to ask for a public policy to go through judicial review.
“I can tell you this is certainly not personal from the county and the public health perspective,” he said. “And I hope the folks on the other side of the lawsuit don’t feel that way either.”
The county also has said it plans to participate in the state’s 5 Star program, which would allow participating businesses to move down a code level. The program cannot take effect until the county’s incidence rate declines for 14 days and lands below 700, the positivity rate is below 10% and less than 90% of hospital beds are in use. The county’s incidence rate, the state’s largest, has been in the 3,000 range for the past two weeks.
Garfield County District Re-2 transitions more students to online learning, quarantines
Students from Rifle and Coal Ridge high schools were asked Friday to transition to online learning and quarantine for 10 days, Garfield County District Re-2 announced.
The request impacts about 56 students between both schools, according to a Friday news release.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the Garfield Re-2 School District has transitioned some students to online instruction based upon exposures to individuals who have been confirmed to have COVID-19 or COVID-19 like symptoms or illness,” the release states.
This is the second transition of Re-2 students to online learning and quarantine procedures within three days. About 113 students and 10 staff members were also asked to stay home, the district announced Tuesday.
Tuesday’s quarantines included individuals from Rifle High School, Elk Creek Elementary, Cactus Valley Elementary and Rifle Middle School.
Re-2 and all building administrators continue to work closely with Garfield County Public Health to investigate COVID-19 illnesses and exposures.
Pitkin County moving to Red-level restrictions, closing indoor dining
With the highest incidence rate of COVID-19 in Colorado, Pitkin County will close indoor dining at restaurants effective Sunday and move fully into Red-level restrictions.
Monday’s unanimous decision by the seven members of the Pitkin County Board of Health also includes a 50% capacity limit on lodging in Aspen and Snowmass Village and assurances by Aspen Skiing Co. to improve COVID-19 protocols.
Ski mountains will remain open without a reservation system for the time being, though indoor dining at on-mountain restaurants will cease.
“We’ve communicated until our eyes are falling out,” said Pitkin County Commissioner Greg Poschman, also a member of the board of health. “Yet we still have a lot of people … not agreeing with us.
“It’s time. We have to do this. It’s painful. It’s not forever.”
Outdoor dining, takeout and delivery at restaurants still will be available, though there will be an 8 p.m. last call and tables can only have people from the same household.
Indoor dining and the lodging cap were the major changes made Monday in the newest public health order, as most Pitkin County businesses and services — with the exception of restaurants — have been operating under Red-level restrictions since Dec. 21.
The new public health order, which goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, alters the metrics for when the county will move into and out of Red-level restrictions and makes them more lenient than state guidelines. Pitkin County, however, must show a 14-day decline in the skyrocketing incidence rate before the county will go back to Orange-level restrictions.
Pitkin County’s Board of Health voted Monday to move into Red-level restrictions starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. Here are some of the changes:
Indoor dining at restaurants is prohibited; use takeout, curbside or delivery options instead. Outdoor dining is permitted with those in your household.
Last call is at 8 p.m.
Improve mask and distancing enforcement.
No indoor dining.
Continue to monitor capacity and implement reservation system if target capacity is exceeded in accordance with the Ski Area Plan.
Enforce one household per unit regardless of when reservation was made.
Limit capacity to 50% occupancy (determined on a weekly basis).
The incidence rate hit 3,046 on Friday, and stood at 2,934 on Monday, with the effects of Christmas and New Year’s not having hit yet, according to Josh Vance, the county’s epidemiologist, and local epidemiology data.
“Three thousand in a 14-day period is extremely high,” Vance said.
The highest incidence rate in the state — the closest second Monday was Bent County at about 2,500 — means 1 in 35 Pitkin County residents is currently infected with COVID-19, said Jordana Sabella, interim public health director.
“We’re not doing real well with preventing disease,” she said.
Vance said he’s done “a ton of research” into why Pitkin County is experiencing such a major surge, while none of the county’s neighbors and most of the rest of the state are not, to no avail.
“I can’t give you a great answer at this time,” he said. “We haven’t fallen on to any one indicator.”
Monday’s hospitalization rate showed two people were checked into Aspen Valley Hospital on Sunday with COVID-19, when they are automatically put into the ICU. The county’s positivity rate Monday was at 12.7%, according to the local data.
The state of Colorado previously kept most counties it moved to Red at that level of restrictions for five to six weeks, Sabella said. At that time, the state required the incidence rate to go below 350 in order to move out of Red, though the governor recently moved all counties that were in Red to Orange because of declining incidence rates.
On Monday, the Pitkin County Board of Health adopted a public health staff recommendation to move to Red if the incidence rate is above 700 for 14 days. The same thing would happen if the positivity rate hit Red level thresholds for 14 days and the hospitalization rate hit those thresholds for just one day, or vice versa.
The county will move out of Red-level restrictions and back to Orange when the incidence rate drops below 700 and has been decreasing for 14 days. The 700 level was chosen because county contact tracers and disease investigators can handle the number of cases associated with that number, Vance has said.
In an effort to try to get restaurants and other local businesses running at the highest capacity possible once the incidence rate decreases, the county will also begin preparations to start a state program that will allow them to operate with lesser restrictions provided they agree to certain COVID-19 protocols.
County officials will apply to the state to start the so-called 5 Star Program and have it in place for businesses that want to participate once the incidence level drops, Sabella said. The program cannot go into effect until the incidence rate declines for 14 days and lands below 700, the positivity rate is below 10% and less than 90% of hospital beds are in use.
As far as skiing is concerned, the area’s four ski mountains will remain open, though indoor dining at on-mountain restaurants will close Sunday when the rest of the county’s indoor dining stops, according to the new public health order. Aspen Skiing Co. has committed to improving facemask and social-distancing enforcement on ski mountains, but will not implement a reservation system, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock.
If the skier numbers begin to exceed those capacities, Skico officials are prepared to implement a reservation system, he said.
The lodging sector has agreed to continue to enforce the one-household-per-unit rule, Sabella said. The exception to that rule used to allow two households in the same unit if the reservation had been made by December. That exception no longer applies, and only one household per unit will be allowed under the new public health order without regard to when the reservation was made, she said.
County officials will also monitor lodging capacity in town on a weekly basis and cap it at 50%, Sabella said.
Kurt Dahl, the county’s environmental health director, told health board members he’s been charged with enhancing enforcement of public health orders, and is looking to the county’s Open Space and Trails rangers for a model. Plans also include more accountability measures for businesses that cater to private parties, like DJs, party planners, caterers, valets, property managers, party hosts and party guests, he said.
Board members also decided not to create a posting of restaurants and other businesses hit by outbreaks. Sabella said the problem has often been dealt with by the time of the reporting, which would needlessly penalize businesses if people used the posting to avoid them. Such action might also discourage disease reporting. That information is posted on a state outbreak website.
Businesses that receive citations or other enforcement actions, however, may soon see those posted, Dahl said.
Pitkin County’s communications team also plans to roll out campaigns to promote takeout at restaurants and better support businesses, post the state public health department’s Pitkin County Report Card issued three times a week online and post the local epidemiology report online, he said.
Officials also are working on providing information to individuals and families about the assistance available to them from local, state and federal sources. Pitkin County will host a community meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. to discuss the changes and the resources available. (Go to at covid19.pitkincounty.com for more information.)
The fate of Aspen’s restaurants took up most of Monday’s four-hour board of health meeting.
Several local restaurant owners spoke up in favor of keeping them open at the current 25% indoor dining level.
Wendy Mitchell, owner of Meat and Cheese and Hooch, advocated for closing all businesses in town for the shortest amount of time possible to cause the least impact.
“We’re encouraging people to come here,” she said. “We’re encouraging people to travel. You have to take all of these aspects into affect and not just punish restaurants.”
However, other community members spoke up in favor of the stricter restrictions.
“I’m on the front line,” said Dr. Greg Balko, an emergency room physician at AVH. “I see first hand what’s going on. We’ve gotta do something. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing because the numbers keep going up.”
Board members did make one concession to restaurants, though. The new public health order was set to go into effect Friday, though the board postponed it until Sunday to give restaurants more time to cook and sell off perishable items in their kitchens.
Student illnesses cancel Roaring Fork High School in-person classes Tuesday
Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale announced Monday that it will cancel in-person classes Tuesday after a handful of students came down sick with possible COVID-19 symptoms on Monday.
According to a press release issued by the Roaring Fork School District, four students exhibited “concerning symptoms” at school, including nausea, headaches and vomiting, all within a short period of time.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are canceling in-person school at RFHS on Tuesday,” according to a statement issued to parents. Athletic practices were also canceled for Monday and Tuesday.
“The students were immediately sent to the health tent for evaluation and then sent home and encouraged to seek medical attention and get a COVID test as these are all possible COVID-19 symptoms,” the release stated.
“Because this situation does not present as a typical COVID-19 outbreak, the school immediately contacted the fire department to check the environment and were given the all-clear,” the district said. “The school closed off the areas of the building where the students presented symptoms and had windows open in all rooms.”
On Tuesday, the school is to be given a deep clean before students will be allowed to return on Wednesday, the release stated.
Classroom teachers were to be in touch with students about doing asynchronous school work on Tuesday.
El departamento de salud pública del condado de Garfield ofrece gratis pruebas de COVID-19 por la comunidad para Parachute, Rifle y New Castle
Una camioneta móvil de Curative para pruebas de COVID-19 visitará partes del Condado de Garfield Oeste empezaba este lunes, enero 11, según una versión de noticias.
Las pruebas son gratis y las personas no necesitan una nota de un doctor, identificación o seguro. Este servicio semanal estará disponible por la exigencia de comunidades, la versión declaró.
“Las pruebas empezaban en enero 2021 y van a continuar en cada sitio entre de marzo siempre y cuando numeros de participación están allí,” Christine Singleton, el coordinador de pruebas de Curative para Salud Pública del Condado de Garfield, dijo en la versión. “No tuvimos mucho tiempo para contactar personas sobre la vuelta de la camioneta móvil, pero ahora hay una oferta semanal en estas comunidades.”
Las pruebas del principio de diciembre tuvieron 88 participantes en Parachute, 125 en Rifle y 185 en New Castle, la versión dijo. Las pruebas durante la primera semana de enero tuvieron ocho participantes en Parachute, 33 en Rifle y 62 en New Castle.
“Números de COVID continuarán siendo altos, pues pienso que la falta de participación fue una problema de personas que no sabían el sitio de pruebas fue disponible,” Singleton dijo en la versión. “Sabemos que puede ser muy difícil para algunas de nuestras residentes de Parachute y Battlement Mesa viajar a otros pueblos para servicios. Esperamos que las personas aprendan sobre los sitios de pruebas y usarlos como necesitan porque es una situación de usarlo o perderlo.”
Curative ofrece una prueba de un hisopo de líquido oral — un método alternativo a hisopos de nasofaríngeo o el cerebro para pruebas de COVID-19 con la más alta sensibilidad de clínico, la versión dijo. Es una prueba dirigida, observada y auto-recogida, que minimiza el contacto en persona y el riesgo de transmisión para todas los visitantes del sitio y profesionales de pruebas.
Los resultados son regresados a paciencias dentro de 48 horas tras la recepción al laboratorio.
La Pública Salud del Condado de Garfield anima a alguien que tiene síntomas a obtener una prueba inmediatamente y aislarse por lo menos 10 días del comienzo hasta no tener fiebre por 24 horas (sin la ayuda de medicación) y los síntomas han mejorado.
Alguien que ha tenido exposición a otra persona con COVID-19 debe obtener una prueba 5-7 días después del exposición y cuarentena, la versión dijo.
Aunque puede recibir una prueba sin una cita, una inscripción en línea es altamente animado. Los sitios móviles de pruebas se ofrecerán entre de marzo.
Valley View, Grand River suspend COVID-19 vaccine wait lists as demand heightens
Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs said Tuesday it is suspending its wait list for the COVID-19 vaccine due to intense demand and a limited supply of the vaccine coming to Garfield County.
Valley View advised in a Tuesday afternoon press release that those who are already on the wait list to receive the vaccine will be contacted when additional doses are available and to schedule an appointment.
Phone messages left after 2 p.m. Tuesday will not be responded to. Anyone who left a message earlier in the day should receive a callback, Valley View spokeswoman Stacey Gavrell said in the release.
“Valley View apologizes for this change,” she said in the release. “The number of vaccines received has been very limited, and Valley View Hospital cannot schedule without additional supplies.
“As Valley View receives more information about vaccine supplies, we will continue to improve our process,” Gavrell said, referring to the hospital website (vvh.org) and its Facebook page for updated information.
Grand River Health in Rifle is in the same holding pattern.
“We are giving out all of our remaining vaccines this week to 230 seniors,” Grand River spokeswoman Annick Pruett said. “We are hoping to hear soon about our vaccine allocations moving forward and are working with our partners at Valley View and Garfield County Public Health to obtain more vaccines to serve our community.”
Garfield County as a whole, as well as neighboring Pitkin County and many other counties across the state, have been dealing with limited vaccine supply after the state last week expanded the first round of vaccines to those age 70 and older.
As of Sunday, the county had received 2,215 doses of the vaccine, including 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 215 of the Pfizer vaccine, said Carrie Godes, public health specialist for Garfield County.
“Vaccine shipments to counties are still not predictable, and in most cases lower than the numbers needed or ordered, but they are coming,” she said Tuesday.
Currently, the vaccine is only being administered at the county’s two hospitals, Valley View in Glenwood and Grand River Health in Rifle.
“As more vaccine becomes available, more medical providers will be able to become vaccine distribution sites,” Godes said. “Garfield County is still working through the 1A (high-risk health care workers) and those limited 1B categories (moderate-risk health care workers, first responders and people 70 and older) and anticipates those will take several more weeks.”
Godes reiterated that additional appointment times will become available as more vaccine is received.
“However, the process is going to take some time,” she said. “We will need everyone’s patience and cooperation as the hospitals try to vaccinate everyone in the priority groups. It will take several weeks to vaccinate everyone in the 70-plus category.”
Colorado governor moves to loosen level-red coronavirus restrictions as cases decline
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis late Wednesday announced that he will loosen coronavirus restrictions in areas across the state that had been forced to ban personal gatherings and shut down indoor dining in recent weeks.
The Democrat said he is asking the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to move counties that had been under level-red restrictions — including the entire Denver area and El Paso County — to level-orange restrictions starting on Monday.
Under level-orange restrictions, counties will be able to allow personal gatherings of up to 10 people from two different households and restaurants can offer indoor dining at up to 25% of their capacity or 50 people.
“In reviewing the data, Colorado has been in a sustained declined for 13 days, and only 73% of (intensive care unit) beds statewide are in use,” Polis said on Twitter in announcing the shift.
The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.
Glenwood Springs council sets criteria for ‘red level relief’ restaurant grants
Locally owned restaurants hardest hit by the latest coronavirus restrictions shutting down indoor dining will be given priority for $165,000 worth of city of Glenwood Springs year-end relief grants.
Those choosing to follow Garfield County’s more lax restrictions, as well as national chains, fast-food restaurants and places like coffee shops that don’t rely heavily on the sit-down dining experience, need not apply — for now.
Those were the criteria established by City Council in a 6-0 vote Monday during a special meeting called to discuss rules for “red level relief grants.”
Contained in that is $115,000 in remaining federal CARES Act dollars that must be spent by Wednesday, and another $50,000 in Downtown Development Authority funds that must be spent within the DDA boundaries, City Manager Debra Figueroa said.
On Tuesday morning, an email went out to 36 qualifying restaurants, a representative of which can claim a check of up to $4,600 (assuming all accept) at the downtown Glenwood Springs Visitor’s Center Wednesday or Thursday, if they agree to follow the current state restrictions.
Restaurants deemed eligible for city ’Red Level Relief’ grants
Local, Daily Bread, Rocky Mountain Pizza Co., Doc Hollidays Tavern, Glenwood Canyon Brewpub, Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, Russo’s Pizza, Grind, Italian Underground, Las Margaritas, Las Palmas, Little Bavarian, Masala & Curry, Pullman, Riviera Supper Club, Sal Mex, Slope & Hatch, Springs Bar & Grill, Zheng Asian Bistro, Hugo’s, El Sarape, Kedai, Rivers, Taqueria El Nopal, Frida, Jilbertitos, May Palace, Trattoria Brava, Za Pizza, China Town, Fiesta Guadalajara, Kanpai Sushi, Ming’s Cafe, Tequila’s, KC’s Wing House, Native Son
Councilor Steve Davis proposed the criteria for grants that were made available through the Glenwood Chamber Foundation and the DDA.
“I believe it’s the desire of this council to … award grants to restaurants that have been most adversely affected by the state of Colorado’s dine-in restrictions, by moving from orange to level red (on the state’s COVID-19 dial),” Davis said.
“These grants would go to locally owned restaurants who historically have relied very little on carry-out business … and have had little or no way to adapt for their survival and well-being,” Davis said.
In that context, he said grants should not be considered for national chains, including local fast-food franchises, because the impact to them has not been as great.
Council did agree, however, that other types of eating and drinking establishments could be considered for a follow-up round of COVID-relief grants after the first of the year.
Grants should also not be awarded to restaurants that previously received one of the city’s $6,000 “warming grants” to provide heated outdoor dining spaces during the cold-weather months, Davis said.
“I’d rather not have them double-dip into our grants programs,” he said.
Restaurants receiving previous ’warming grants’
19th Street Diner, Smoke, CO Ranch House, Juicy Lucy’s, Sweet Coloradough, Charcoalburger
Recipients also must sign an acknowledgment that they are following the state of Colorado’s public health orders, now and in the future, in order to receive a grant, he proposed.
Council agreed unanimously to the criteria outlined by Davis, though Councilor Tony Hershey was absent from the special session.
Concerns were expressed about leaving it up to staff to make the call as to which restaurants are awarded grants, and which ones aren’t.
To alleviate that worry, council appointed Davis and Councilor Charlie Willman to review grant requests and make the final determinations.
City Attorney Karl Hanlon advised that it would be awkward for staff to make those determinations.
“One of my concerns was putting it on staff to call out winners and losers on this,” he said. “The best thing to do is to make this your decision, not staff’s decision.”
Mayor Jonathan Godes agreed with that approach.
“It is a sticky question,” he said. “Either we pass it off to staff, or we take it, and it’s not staff’s job to make the hard (political) decisions.
“‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown,’ and we wear the crown,” Godes said.
The issue became even more politically charged when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Dec. 10 moved Garfield County to level red on the dial, based on an increasing number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19, but Garfield County commissioners decided to issue separate guidance.
While level red shuts down restaurants for indoor dining, limiting them to takeout, delivery or open-air dining spaces, county commissioners adopted a resolution on Dec. 16 that allows restaurants to remain open at half their normal indoor dining capacity. With that, though, the commissioners advised that the state could still take enforcement action by suspending restaurant and liquor licenses. No such actions have been taken to date.
For its part, the Glenwood council reiterated that it wants restaurants to follow the state’s restrictions, and are required to do so if they expect to receive a city relief grant.
And, “Any restaurant where the primary business is dine-in service should be the ones receiving priority for these funds,” Willman added. “That’s my goal in this.”
Willman has also been working with chamber representatives and restaurant owners to be ready for Glenwood Springs to qualify for the state’s recently unveiled “5-Star” program. It would allow restaurants and other businesses to operate a level up from wherever a county or municipality is on the state dial, if they can show they meet a certain higher public health standard to help prevent disease spread.
For the city or Garfield County to qualify, though, there would need to be a two-week downward trend in the local COVID-19 statistics based on case number, incidence rate, test positivity rate and hospitalizations.
So far, so good. As of Tuesday, Garfield County had shown progress in reversing the trend on most of those metrics since Dec. 10.