(The Center Square) – El Paso County became the latest county in Colorado to move to the red or “severe risk” level after receiving the designation from the state's health department on Monday.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's (CDPHE) designation means most public indoor activities will be prohibited while religious gatherings, outdoor activities, and some retail businesses are limited to 25% capacity, according to the county health department. These new restrictions go into effect Friday at 5:00 p.m.
El Paso joins 19 other counties carrying a red level designation, according to the state’s COVID-19 dial. CDPHE designated 15 counties as red level last week after Gov. Jared Polis announced the new dial framework on Tuesday.
The dial shows El Paso’s two week cumulative incident rate reached 1,106.7 and its positivity rate hit 14.67%. Only five of the state’s 64 counties have incident rates classified below the red level: Jackson, Delores, San Juan, Hinsdale, and Mineral Counties.
However, El Paso’s hospitalization rate is well above neighboring counties. CDPHE data shows El Paso just began reporting fewer hospitalizations within the last week, while neighboring Elbert, Lincoln, and Teller counties have reported fewer than two hospitalizations in the past two weeks.
CDPHE granted site variances for four businesses, meaning they are exempted from stricter capacity requirements. They are Great Wolf Lodge Water Park, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Flying V Ranch, and The North Pole – Santa’s Workshop.
As Thanksgiving approaches, CDPHE recommends residents limit travel, practice social distancing, and wear masks. The agency also suggests avoiding large family gatherings in lieu of video chatting with loved ones.