GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (KDVR) — Tri-County Health Department has adopted a new public health order to replace the state’s retiring COVID-19 dial.
Beginning April 16, the state will let the dial as we know it expire and give control over public health orders back to local public health agencies.
TCHD has decided to keep the dial temporarily. They will continue using the COVID dial 3.0 for 30 days, using it primarily as a guide for capacity limits. Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties will also immediately move one level down on the dial from yellow to blue.
TCHD will then retire the dial system and beginning May 16 will enter into an observation period where each county will be able to fully reopen.
However, TCHD will monitor COVID statistics at the county level to determine if capacity limits need to be reinstated.
“We would be using no longer going forward metrics of cases. We would be using metrics of severity, specifically hospitalization rates,” TCHD Director Dr. John Douglas said.
TCHD will continue to monitor hospital data through the summer. If there is a spike in severity, a county could be moved back to Blue, Yellow, Orange, Red or Purple levels.
“Honestly, if our counties continue to have metrics of severity as favorable as they have been, the risk is really extremely, extremely low,” Douglas said.
Broomfield and Jefferson Counties each told FOX31 Thursday that they are waiting for more guidance from the state before moving forward with post-dial plans. Boulder County said its new plan will take into account variants and vaccines but will not be releasing full details until next week. However, Douglas said metro area counties have similar plans to the one passed by TCHD.
“As of last night, all metro counties were planning to follow this and issue a public health order for a one month dial extension,” he said.
Douglas added Denver may opt to continue using the dial past May 15.
TCHD’s public health order allows a county to opt out if it so chooses. During Thursday’s meeting, officials announced Douglas County commissioners had expressed reservations about the changes.
If Douglas County opts out, it is unclear what restrictions, if any, would be in place once the COVID dial expires.
According to Douglas, beginning April 16 the state will maintain a one-month public health order restricting capacities at unseated indoor gatherings and the current mask mandate.
“Otherwise all other capacity is really pretty much back to normal,” he said.