State issues 10-person limit on personal gatherings, amends 'safer at home' rules for counties

  • COVID-19, courtesy Centers for Disease Control
    COVID-19, courtesy Centers for Disease Control

The state health department has amended its limits on personal gatherings for counties in the “safer at home” category, including Ouray County.

Citing concerns about increased infection rates, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment amended its statewide public health order for counties currently in the “safer at home” phase of reopening. These changes include a limit on personal gatherings to 10 people, with no more than two households gathering at once. This new amended order is scheduled to last at least 30 days.

“We are asking all Coloradans to act with an abundance of caution to reverse these worrying trends. Right now, the virus is spreading when people from multiple households attend gatherings. We need to keep gatherings smaller and with people from fewer households — we are asking everyone to ‘shrink their bubble’ to reduce the spread,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the department’s executive director in a press release. “Please take every effort to reduce contact with members of other households. If you can work remotely, please do so to reduce contact with other individuals. Taking action now can prevent your loved ones from getting sick, and help us save lives and avoid stricter public health orders in the future.”

Mesa County recently lost its classification in the “protect our neighbors” phase due to increased infection rates and several outbreaks at personal gatherings and businesses.

Some other rural counties the West Slope which had been designated in the less-stringent “protect our neighbors” category have also seen recent spikes in COVID-19 cases and are on the radar for potentially moving to a more cautious phase of reopening. Ouray County has had 7 new cases of the virus in the past two weeks, and state health department personnel have indicated a possible mitigation plan to slow the infection rate may be necessary. A meeting was held yesterday to discuss this and another meeting is scheduled for next week.

The state health department has been meeting with individual counties that have had increased testing rates to determine mitigation strategies to slow the spread of COVID and lower the rate of positive cases.