ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) announced Friday afternoon that Arapahoe and Adams counties will be under new restrictions in an effort to slow the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
In a statement, TCHD said the decision was made in coordination with local municipalities.
Dr. John Douglas, the executive director of TCHD, said the new measures aim to prevent more widespread restrictions that would have to be implemented later if no action was taken.
“I know it gets old and that everyone has COVID fatigue, but there is strong reason to believe that infection could further spread and hospitalizations increase as we move further into the fall and winter. There will be light at the end of the tunnel as new vaccines become available, and we just cannot let our guard down yet,” Douglas said.
For Arapahoe County, starting at 11 p.m. Friday, the following new restrictions will be in place:
Alcohol sales at bars and restaurants will end at 11 p.m. instead of midnight.
Personal gatherings will be limited to 10 people or fewer instead of 25.
Additionally, “nonessential, office-based” businesses are encouraged to have employees work remotely.
For Adams County, starting at 9 p.m. Friday, the following new restrictions will be in place:
Spectators will be prohibited at Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) sporting events as well as adult recreational and league sports.
Organized recreational and league youth sports are limited to 25 people per field, including spectators but excluding coaches and refs.
Personal indoor gatherings are limited to five people; outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. This does not apply to people living in the same home.
Alcohol sales at bars and restaurants will end at 10 p.m.
The orders will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 1 unless otherwise extended, TCHD said.
The health department said its contact tracing found that many people contracted COVID at private gatherings. Additionally, it said “limiting sale of alcohol has been an effective step in other jurisdictions, including statewide, following restrictions during July.”
TCHD said there has also been a rising number of outbreaks at workplaces.
According to the health department, Arapahoe County’s positivity rate has doubled in recent weeks and is now at 5.1%.
“The County’s early monitoring fecal system shows that these increases will continue at least into next week before they might level off. The County’s hospitalization rates still remain within an acceptable range,” TCHD said.
Under the state’s COVID dial, which determines each county’s restrictions based on measures like positivity rate and hospitalizations, Arapahoe County is currently in Safer at Home Level 1.
If it falls to Safer at Home Level 2, new restrictions will be implemented by the state, including smaller capacity limits in offices, bars, restaurants, houses of worship, gyms and bars.
“No one wants to see our communities and economy return to the widespread shutdowns we had this past spring,” said Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners Chair Nancy N. Sharpe. “If we implement these mitigation measures now, we may be able to reverse these trends. It’s up to everyone to continue to do their part to stop the spread of the virus.”
Meanwhile, as of Thursday, Adams County had an incidence rate of 313 per 100,000 people. It is already in Safer at Home Level 2.
“Adams County has been beyond the State’s threshold for level 2 of Safer at Home since Sept. 28. TCHD hopes this order will pull Adams County back within the limits of level 2 by reducing the number of COVID-19 cases,” Tri-County Health said.
The health department encouraged individuals in high-risk groups to stay home as much as possible.
Tri-County’s move comes after neighboring Denver County announced it is imposing stricter mask rules and limiting gatherings to five people.
An estimated 656,590 people live in Arapahoe County; 517,421 live in Adams County.