Denver Set To Shift To 'Level Red' On CO Coronavirus Dial

School districts in level red counties will be encouraged to provide in-person learning for pre-K through fifth grade and hybrid online and in-person learning for middle and high schools.

State leaders have resisted moving any county or the state into stay-at-home restrictions fearing the economic impact and recognizing that employees do not have the same protections from the federal government they had in the spring and early summer.

However, Pitkin County's manager said state officials have told him that moving to the Red level is voluntary at this time and that while the county was initially on the state's list to move to that level, the final decision will rest with the Board of Health, which meets Thursday afternoon.

Level Purple was added to the top of the dial. Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment on Tuesday named 15 counties that are moving to red Friday: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, La Plata, Logan, Mesa, Morgan, Routt, Summit and Washington.

The new dial level announced by Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday "does not affect ski resort on-mountain operations specifically", according to an email sent Wednesday evening by the Colorado State Joint Information Center. "The state is not requiring counties to go to that level".

Along with a temporary ban on indoor dining, the new Level Red also forbids indoor events and gatherings of any kind, and restricts alcohol sales at restaurants and bars after 8 p.m. Restaurants will still be able to offer takeout and delivery services and gyms can operate at 10 percent capacity.

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"This trend can not continue", Polis said. On Tuesday, they learned from the state that they - as well as their counterparts in Garfield and Eagle counties - do not have to adopt the new restrictions. "They said, 'Yeah, that's an option'". The Red level would last for at least 30 days, while Orange will last until the county meets the metrics associated with the less restrictive Yellow level for 14 consecutive days, he said. By revising the dial, the state protected counties from a full lockdown.

Level Orange moves most businesses to a maximum of 25% of capacity or 50 people total, whichever number is smaller.

The complete list of counties has not yet been announced, because according to Polis those discussions are still happening at the local level. Still, Polis urged everyone to stay home whenever possible. Hancock called on residents of the Denver area to step up. The new dial adds a purple level, which would indicate stay-at-home orders.

Polis said that with more people in Colorado hospitalized than in March and April, and with "growth that keeps skyrocketing", something had to be done.

Polis praised news of an effective vaccine, but also explained that the next few months will be a critical bridge to the time when most of us will be inoculated.

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