Continued decreases in the three metrics used to measure the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed Jeffco to move down to the second least restrictive level on the COVID-19 dial, Jefferson …
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Continued decreases in the three metrics used to measure the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed Jeffco to move down to the second least restrictive level on the COVID-19 dial, Jefferson County Public Health announced Thursday.
According to a JCPH press release, Jeffco will officially move from Level Yellow: Concern to Level Blue: Caution at 6 a.m. Feb. 26.
In Level Blue, the capacity of restaurants is capped at 175 instead of 50 as it is in Level Yellow, although restaurants would still not be able to exceed 50% of their overall capacity in Level Blue. The restrictions for some other businesses and settings would also change.
The state also recommends that schools in Level Blue counties conduct classes in person, while in-person learning is merely “suggested” for those counties in Level Yellow.
The shift to Level Yellow comes after the county sustained the three metrics necessary to move from Level Yellow to Level Blue for seven consecutive days. Those metrics are a test positivity rate of no more than 5%, a new case incidence rate of less than 100 per 100,000 residents over the last seven days and a rate of hospitalizations that is declining or stable.
According to JCPH, Jeffco had a total of 531 new confirmed cases, or 91.1 per 100,000 residents for the week ending Feb. 23 while its case positivity rate has hovered around 3%. Hospitalizations have also remained stable during that time.
New JCPH Executive Director Dawn Comstock told the county commissioners just days earlier to expect Jeffco to move to Level Blue as case metrics continued to improve.
“We are very excited that these numbers are going in the direction that we would like to see them headed,” said Comstock, who went on to say that the county's ability to remain in Level Blue would then depend on Jeffco residents continuing to follow mask wearing and social distancing protocols.
Information about the restrictions that apply in Level Blue can be found at covid19.colorado.gov/data/covid-19-dial-dashboard#determinants.
County surpasses 70-and-over vaccination milestone
After a slow start, Jefferson County's efforts to vaccinate those county residents age 70 and over are continuing to gain steam.
On Feb. 23, the county achieved a significant milestone of more than 70% of county residents over 70 having received one vaccination. That number was at 70.4% as of Feb. 24, the last day for which data is currently available.
Comstock said that Jefferson County also has a higher percentage of its 70-and-over population than the state as a whole, although the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has indicated to JCPH that it expects to meet the 70% threshold by the end of the month.
Passing that benchmark will allow the state to move to 1B.3 of the state vaccination plan, which would open up vaccinations to essential workers such as grocery store employees as well as people with two or more conditions that have been deemed “high risk” by the state.
However, Comstock said that JCPH will continue to focus its vaccination efforts on those 70-and-over residents, health care workers and first-responders who have still not been vaccinated, while leaving other populations to hospitals and other vaccine providers.
“We still have 70-and-over population out there that are anxious to get the vaccine, are trying to get the vaccine and are just having trouble getting that vaccination appointment scheduled,” she said.
Following Comstock's presentation, Jeffco Commissioner Lesley Dahlkemper asked residents to continue to follow protocols.
“If we continue to exercise those precautions it really makes a big difference for our businesses, for our schools and for our community,” she said.
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