There’s now a Level Purple on the Colorado’s COVID-19 Dial, and it’s worse than Level Red.
Level Purple: Extreme Risk/Stay At Home Ordered is being added to the dial Friday, Nov. 20 and Level Red: Severe Risk/Stay At Home is being revised accordingly. Level Purple kicks in when hospital capacity risks being breached, and most businesses and indoor services must be closed.
El Paso County and Pueblo County are currently at Level Orange: High Risk/Safer At Home, along with Denver, Arapahoe, Jefferson and Teller counties.
“We must act now to save lives,” Governor Jared Polis said at a COVID-19 update Nov. 17. “We must act now to avoid a shutdown or lockdown.”
The new highest level means:
high risk populations are eligible for worker benefits and mandatory prioritization for remote work;
no change to K-12 education;
no personal gatherings;
offices: virtual, or outdoors in groups less than 10;
critical and non-critical retail: curbside, pickup and delivery only;
personal services: closed;
indoor dining closed; take out, delivery, or to go open;
outdoor dining closed;
remote learning suggested for higher education;
places of worship: remote, virtual service, or outdoor are strongly encouraged; indoors up to 10.
“We are adding a new level to the dial in response to out-of-control levels of COVID-19 transmission across the state,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director at CDPHE. “Coloradans must take proactive steps to reduce the spread of the virus to protect their families and communities. Wear a mask, avoid in-person interactions with people from outside your household, and wash your hands frequently. If we are not careful now, we risk plunging into the deep end of the dial."
“We now continue to see our state on this exponential growth curve that we must stop to save lives and avoid overflowing our hospitals,” Polis said. “Last week over a span of three days — just to show how fast this virus can grow — we went from 3,500 cases a day, to 5,100, to over 6,000.
“This growth keeps skyrocketing. We now have over 1,300 patients hospitalized. That's more than we've ever had before. So remember how bad it was in March and April — there are more Coloradans hospitalized today from COVID than in March and April. Our hospitals are starting to get stressed.
“We in Colorado need to act to stop this exponential growth to save lives and save our economy,” he added.
Polis announced he’ll soon be calling the legislature into a special session to work out immediate relief for the economic and financial hardships Coloradans are facing. Polis said he will be asking the General Assembly to take up critical legislation to help families and small businesses during the challenging winter months.
Specific parameters for the special session are still being confirmed, but it will include:
a small business relief package with direct aid and tax relief;
housing and rental assistance;
support for child care providers; and
expanding broadband access to students and educators.
Polis also said his office is working with CDE and CDPHE to provide additional federal resources to assist school districts to safely return to in-person learning, including funding for outdoor classrooms, testing, and additional personal protective equipment and supplies.