On Wednesday, Nov. 18, the Las Animas and Huerfano Counties Health Director Kim Gonzales released an update moving Las Animas County from Level Blue: Cautious to Level Yellow: Concern on the state’s COVID-19 dial framework for managing risks. The new level went into effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

“Las Animas County continues to follow the community mitigation plan and is working diligently with partners to reverse the concerning trends,” said Gonzales in her release. “The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) says they will monitor Las Animas County for one week and meet with the Health Department to reevaluate. If things do not improve, Las Animas County will move into COVID-19 Dial Level Orange – High Risk, which will result in tighter restrictions.”

Additional restrictions that will go into place include restaurants, houses of worship, as well as indoor and outdoor events are limited to 50 percent of posted occupancy. As for indoors, even at 50 percent capacity, those spaces cannot exceed 50 people per room. For outdoors, those spaces cannot exceed 175 people in addition to maintaining no more than 50 percent capacity.

As of Nov. 16, Las Animas County’s metrics responsible for moving to Level Yellow include a two-week cumulative incidence rate of 580 cases per 100,000 people, a percent positivity rate of nine percent, a two-week COVID-19 case count of new cases at 84, and an increasing hospitalization rate.

CDPHE stated it reserves the right to move the county to a more restrictive level at any point should circumstances warrant more aggressive sector restrictions. To restore previous levels, CDPHE stated the county would have to hold the needed metrics of lower new cases, lower percent positivity, and lower impact on hospitalizations for two weeks.

The county is asking all residents and businesses to help keep the community safe by staying home when possible, wearing a mask when within six feet of others and in public, following social distancing guidelines and washing hands regularly.

“Unfortunately, the data demonstrates that our current level of restriction is not enough to stop the rise in cases and hospitalizations, and CDPHE has moved Las Animas County to a more restrictive level,” explained Gonzales. “This is concerning for our community, businesses and schools. I am hopeful that with the cooperation of our residents, leadership of our community and commitment by our businesses, we can reverse the trend of COVID-19 infections quickly and return to a more open community and economy.”

As “COVID fatigue” continues to be an issue across numerous communities everywhere, Gonzales said to keep in mind that by reducing the spread now, it could help us open up more quickly in the long run.

“It’s easy to let our guard down when we are at home or in the community,” said Gonzales. “However, it’s all of the small things that we do consistently in our daily lives that make a difference. These simple strategies and diligence will reduce the spread of the virus, help us to reopen and maintain or local businesses, and allow our students to return to school.”

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