By Audra Streetman

DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has agreed to loosen restrictions for counties currently in level Red on the state’s COVID-19 dial. In a tweet on Wednesday evening, Gov. Jared Polis asked CDPHE to move level Red counties to level Orange, effective Monday.

Polis cited a sustained decline in COVID-19 data over the past 13 days and 73% of ICU beds statewide in use.

“This is a direct result of Coloradans stepping up and taking steps to protect themselves and others,” Polis stated.

(credit: Colorado Department of Public Health And Environment)

The governor’s request only applies to counties currently in level Red, which is defined as “severe risk” by the state. Currently, more than 30 counties in the state are in level Red.

Colorado counties by color on the state’s COVID-19 dial (credit: CDPHE)

Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director of CDPHE released the following statement to CBS4:

“The 13 day decline in number of cases is a strong indication that we are moving in the right direction. Coloradans have been successful in slowing the spread, and we need them to keep following public health protocols– like continuing to only interact with those they live with, especially through the holiday. In general, countries restricted in level red have reduced viral transmission to a point where we can provide economic relief and move them into level orange, recognizing the fact that economic hardships also cause poorer health outcomes. We plan to work with local public health agencies on the next steps. Counties are always able to set more restrictive orders than the state if they so choose.”

The move to level Orange will allow indoor dining at 25% capacity up to 50 people. Last call would move from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and gyms and fitness centers could operate at 25% capacity.

Indoor events and entertainment can resume under level orange with 25% capacity limits up to 50 people.

Polis emphasized the importance of Coloradans not gathering outside their household to celebrate the New Year in order to prevent further transmission of the virus.

Audra Streetman