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Orange, red — now purple? What Colorado's updated COVID-19 dial means for your county

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Posted at 2:54 PM, Nov 18, 2020

DENVER — Colorado's COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations are as high as they've ever been, but Gov. Jared Polis and state health officials this week stopped short of issuing another stay-at-home order.

Instead, the state amended its COVID-19 "dial," the measure of a county's level of virus transmission and the protocols and restrictions that are put in place as a result.

While Level Red was previously the most severe level on the dial, that distinction now belongs to Level Purple.

So while Denver and about a dozen other Colorado counties will bump up to Level Red, they won't bump up to the most extreme level of restrictions.

Confusing enough?

Polis on Tuesday said a key metric in determining whether a county should be Level Purple or Level Red is hospital capacity.

Hospitalizations are on the rise across Colorado, and officials have warned that current trends could lead to capacity issues. But so far, no counties have met the threshold for Level Purple.

Let's walk through the differences between the highest levels on the updated dial, and the restrictions they carry.

(Click here to read the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's full explanation of the updated dial and restrictions, including Levels Green, Blue and Yellow).

Level Orange

Per CDPHE, Level Orange is "for counties where numbers are going up but not to the point where everything needs to be shut down."

Here are the specific metrics for Level Orange:

• New COVID-19 cases are at an incidence of no greater than 350 per100,000 in a two week period

• The percent of positive results over a rolling 14 day average is no greater
than 15%

• Hospitalization rates are increasing in the preceding 14 day period.

Here are some of the key restrictions that accompany Level Orange:

• No gatherings of more than 10 people from two housholds

• No more than 25% in-person workers for non-critical office businesses.

• No more than 50% capacity for critical and non-critical retail businesses.

• No more than 25% capacity, or 50 people, at restaurants, houses of worship and other indoor locations.

• No more than 25% capacity, or 25 people, for indoor gyms and recreation centers.

Level Red

Per CDPHE, Level Red is "for counties with high levels of transmission, hospitalizations, and positivity rates."

Here are the specific metrics for Level Red:

• New COVID-19 cases are at an incidence of greater than 350 per 100,000in a two week period

• The percent of positive results over a rolling 14 day average is greater than
15%

• Hospitalization rates are increasing in the preceding 14 day period.

Here are some of the key restrictions that accompany Level Red:

• No gatherings of more than two non-household members.

• No more than 10% capacity for non-critical office businesses.

• No more than 50% capacity for critical and non-critical retail businesses.

• No indoor dining at restaurants.

• No indoor events.

• No more than 10% capacity, or 10 people, for indoor gyms.

Level Purple

Per CDPHE, Level Purple is "for counties where hospital capacity is at extreme risk of being overrun."

Here are the specific metrics for Level Purple:

• Hospital capacity risks being breached, which may be indicated by:

-- approaching the need for hospital crisis standards of care

-- utilizing alternate care sites

-- critical shortages of staff or personal protective equipment (PPE),

Or:

• hospitals approaching 90% of their reported surge capacity.

• Extreme risk to individuals in the county, region or state as determined by
CDPHE.

Here are some of the key restrictions that accompany Level Purple:

• No gatherings of more than two non-household members.

• Non-critical office businesses closed for in-person work.

• Non-essential retail businesses closed but available for curbside service

• Restaurants closed for indoor and outdoor dining but available for curbside service

• Indoor and outdoor events closed

• Indoor gyms closed but can do outdoor activities with 10 people or less