Ouray County to move under tighter restrictions

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Ouray County will move under even tighter restrictions on Monday due to a surge in COVID-19 cases the last two weeks.

County officials announced this afternoon that the state Department of Public Health and Environment informed the county it will move from yellow to orange on the state's "safer at home" color-coded dial. That means capacity at restaurants, retail businesses, personal services and indoor and outdoor events and other locations will drop from 50 to 25 percent. Capacity at outdoor pools will remain at 50 percent or 50 people, whichever is less.

The county will be one step away from the stay-at-home level on the state's dial, which would trigger the closure of most businesses.

Ouray County has reported 37 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in the last two weeks, including eight on Wednesday and seven more today. Five of those cases today stemmed from Wednesday's mass testing event at the Ouray County Fairgrounds. Here are the details of the cases announced today:

• A man in his 60s who was confirmed positive after testing in Grand Junction on Tuesday.

• A man in his 40s who tested at San Juan Public Health.

• A female in her 60s who tested at the fairgrounds.

• A male in his 20s who tested at the fairgrounds.

• A female in her 30s who tested at the fairgrounds.

• A male under the age of 10 who tested at the fairgrounds.

• A male in his 40s who tested at the fairgrounds.

Ridgway School District Superintendent Susan Lacy also announced today that two school staff members who had already quarantined tested positive during routine testing on Tuesday.

"Neither staff person is a regular classroom or specialist teacher. Therefore we do not have a situation of extended close contact exposure within the school. I want to make sure that you have the facts so that no false rumors spread," she wrote in an email to parents and others.

Ridgway Secondary School quarantined 42 students — nearly half the school population — after a Halloween party, after which one student tested positive and possibly exposed others at the social event and a sports practice.

Overall, the county is reporting a total of 77 cases — 66 confirmed and 11 probable. Outbreaks at two businesses — Ouray Silver Mines and Brickhouse 737 — plus cases tied to Halloween parties and other private gatherings in the last two weeks have led to a spike in cases locally.

The county held a mass testing event at the fairgrounds on Wednesday and tested between 800 and 1,000 people, ultimately running out of tests. Results from those tests are expected by Friday night.

The announcement that the county will move to the more-restrictive orange level comes just three days after the county moved from blue to yellow on the safer-at-home dial.