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Denver and Other Counties on Verge of COVID-19 Crackdowns

A bird's-eye view of Thornton, which is located partly in Adams County.
A bird's-eye view of Thornton, which is located partly in Adams County.
City of Thornton via YouTube

With cases of the novel coronavirus in Colorado spiking like never before, the City and County of Denver sent out an ominous message via Twitter on October 26: "Denver’s #COVID19 situation is looking bad. Really bad. No seriously, what we are doing isn’t working. This could force us into another Stay at Home order."

This isn't an exaggeration. While Governor Jared Polis seems unwilling to re-impose such an order statewide, he's made it clear that specific areas with elevated spread of the virus as measured by the dial system overseen by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment could face restrictions tailored specifically for them. And right now, Denver is among several counties in or near the metro area that could face additional restrictions very soon, up to and including precisely the type of edict teased in that tweet.

Indeed, Boulder County Public Health reported on October 25 that "due to an increase in cases, Boulder County may need to move to Safer at Home Level 3 on the state dial, which restricts the number of people who can be at a business, restaurant, or workplace, as well as decreases gathering sizes for events and fitness activities." And based on the latest data, Boulder is actually in better shape than several of its neighbors. Adams County has already been ordered to shift from Safer at Home Level 2 to Safer at Home Level 3 as of tomorrow, October 28. Among other things, that means restaurants, houses of worship and other institutions will be limited to 25 percent capacity until matters improve.

The CDPHE's dial includes five categories, which move from less to more strict: Protect Our Neighbors (Careful), Safer at Home Level 1 (Cautious), Safer at Home Level 2 (Concern), Safer at Home Level 3 (High Risk) and Stay at Home, in which only businesses deemed essential, such as grocery stores, are allowed to remain open. We examined the data for ten Colorado counties — Denver, Jefferson, Douglas, Arapahoe, Adams, Gilpin, Elbert, El Paso, Broomfield and Boulder — that recently qualified for one of the first three groupings, and all are currently registering some statistics that don't meet those standards.

Denver, for example, is operating at Safer at Home Level 2 right now, but its two-week cumulative COVID-19 incidence rate is in Safer at Home Level 3 territory. A dial slide isn't imminent, though, since its positivity rate, a lofty 7.0 percent per 100,000 people, still qualifies for Safer at Home Level 2 and its nine days of declining or stable hospitalizations over the past two weeks falls within Protect Our Neighbors territory.

Jefferson, Douglas, Arapahoe, Broomfield and Arapahoe counties also have a two-week cumulative incidence number in the Safer at Home Level 3 range. Gilpin, home of Black Hawk and Central City casinos, is at Safer at Home Level 2 by this metric, far above its current Protect Our Neighbors ranking. Elbert is one dial click worse than its Safer at Home Level 1 classification, and Adams County's incidence stats have soared into the Stay at Home position.

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Should their hospitalizations and positivity rates increase, as certainly seems possible (if not likely) given the present trends, some or all of these counties could see further crackdowns or even another de facto shutdown.

Here are the latest details for these ten counties:

The October 26 Colorado county map as measured by the two-week cumulative incidence rate, supplemented by details about level determinants, guidelines and restrictions.EXPAND
The October 26 Colorado county map as measured by the two-week cumulative incidence rate, supplemented by details about level determinants, guidelines and restrictions.

Denver
Safer at Home Level 2: Concern

Variances:
Denver Zoo
Botanic Gardens
Cherry Creek Mall
Four Mile Park
National Western Complex

Additional County Details:
None

Two-week cumulative incidence rate:
347.3 (Safer at Home Level 3: High Risk)

Two-week average positivity:
7.0 percent (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Number of days with decreasing or stable new hospitalizations:
9 (Protect Our Neighbors: Careful)

Jefferson
Safer at Home Level 2: Concern

Variances:
Butterfly Pavilion
Chatfield Farms

Additional County Details:
Places of Worship: 50 percent < 50 and 125 outdoors
Bars: 50 percent < 50 and 125 outdoors
Gyms: 50 percent < 50 and 125 outdoors
Recreation: 50 percent < 50 and 125 outdoors

Two-week cumulative incidence rate:
247.6 (Safer at Home Level 3: High Risk)

Two-week average positivity:
5.7 percent (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Number of days with decreasing or stable new hospitalizations:
9 (Protect Our Neighbors: Careful)

Douglas
Safer at Home Level 1: Cautious

Variances:
Park Meadows Mall

Additional County Details:
Gyms: 50 percent < 175
Life Rites: 50 percent < 175 indoors and < 250 outdoors

Two-week cumulative incidence rate:
184.6 (Safer at Home Level 3: High Risk)

Two-week average positivity:
5.4 percent (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Number of days with decreasing or stable new hospitalizations:
9 (Protect Our Neighbors: Careful)

Arapahoe
Safer at Home Level 1: Cautious

Variances:
None

Additional County Details:
Gyms: 50 percent < 175

Two-week cumulative incidence rate:
263.5 (Safer at Home Level 3: High Risk)

Two-week average positivity:
6.8 percent (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Number of days with decreasing or stable new hospitalizations:
7 (Stay at Home: Severe)

Adams
Safer at Home Level 3: High Risk (as of October 28)

Variances:
Gaylord of the Rockies

Additional County Details:
Level 3 effective 10/28/20

Two-week cumulative incidence rate:
490.1 (Stay at Home: Severe)

Two-week average positivity:
10.0 percent (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Number of days with decreasing or stable new hospitalizations:
9 (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Broomfield
Safer at Home Level 2: Concern

Variances:
Flatiron Crossing Mall

Additional County Details:
Gyms: 50 percent < 100 indoors and 175 outdoors
Organized sports: < 50
Personal services: 50 percent < 100 indoors and 175 outdoors
Libraries: 50 percent < 100 indoors and 175 outdoors
Museums: 50 percent < 100 indoors and 175 outdoors

Two-week cumulative incidence rate:
206.3 (Safer at Home Level 3: High Risk)

Two-week average positivity:
4.8 percent (Protect Our Neighbors: Careful)

Number of days with decreasing or stable new hospitalizations:
11 (Protect Our Neighbors: Careful)

Boulder
Safer at Home Level 2: Concern

Variances:
None

Additional County Details:
None

Two-week cumulative incidence rate:
174.5 (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Two-week average positivity:
4.0 percent (Protect Our Neighbors: Careful)

Number of days with decreasing or stable new hospitalizations:
11 (Protect Our Neighbors: Careful)

Gilpin
Protect Our Neighbors: Careful

Variances:
None

Additional County Details:
None

Two-week cumulative incidence rate:
144.8 (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Two-week average positivity:
6.9 percent (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Number of days with decreasing or stable new hospitalizations:
No more than 2 new hospitalizations reported per day in the past two weeks (Protect Our Neighbors: Careful)

Elbert
Safer at Home Level 1: Cautious

Variances:
None

Additional Details:
None

Two-week cumulative incidence rate:
116.2 (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Two-week average positivity:
5.6 percent (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Number of days with decreasing or stable new hospitalizations:
No more than 2 new hospitalizations reported per day in the past two weeks (Protect Our Neighbors: Careful)

El Paso
Safer at Home Level 1: Cautious

Variances:
Personal recreation*: 50 percent < 175 indoors and 250 outdoors
* Gyms, Athletic Training Facilities (Olympic), Indoor Water Park at Great Wolf Lodge, Park Nature Centers, Bowling Alleys, Ice Rinks, Laser Tag, Indoor Gun Ranges, Escape Rooms, Nerfgun battles, Paintball, Mini-Golf, Go-Kart Tracks

Two-week cumulative incidence rate:
251.6 (Safer at Home Level 3: High risk)

Two-week average positivity:
6.2 percent (Safer at Home Level 2: Concern)

Number of days with decreasing or stable new hospitalizations:
9 (Protect Our Neighbors: Careful)

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