Colorado Springs, El Paso County moving to stricter Safer at Home level

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs and El Paso County will be moving to a more restrictive Safer at Home level on Wednesday, the health department announced Friday.

The new restrictions come as the county is seeing an increase in coronavirus case rates, test positivity, and hospitalizations. The state health department told the county Friday that they are required to move to Safer at Home Level 2. The county was previously at Level 1.

The new restrictions take effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday. They include:

  • Preschool – 12 Schools: In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate
  • Higher Education: In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate
  • Places of Worship: **Pursuant to a federal court order, capacity limits do not currently apply to indoor Places of Worship, though social distancing requirements must still be met; outdoors, six feet of social distance must be maintained as well
  • Restaurants: 50% capacity or up to 50 people per room (or up to 100 with social distance calculator), six feet between parties outdoors
  • Offices: 50% capacity
  • Bars: Closed, unless food is served from a retail food licensee with tables spaced at least six feet apart and set seating for on-premise consumption. 50% capacity or up to 50 people per room (or up to 100 with social distance calculator). Dance floors are not permitted.
  • Gyms/Fitness: 25% capacity up to 50 people per room
  • Group Sports: 25-person cap per activity
  • Retail: 50% capacity
  • Personal Services: 50% capacity up to 50 people per room
  • Indoor Events: up to 100-person cap per room (with social distance calculator)
  • Outdoor Events: up to 175-person cap per designated activity (with social distance calculator)
  • Senior Facilities: Outdoor and compassionate visitation, indoor under limited circumstances
  • Outdoor Guided Activities: 50% capacity up to 10 people

Other personal gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people from no more than two households.

“While I’m disappointed that the State is moving us to Level 2, it is not surprising. Our numbers have been over the threshold for Level 1 for several weeks now, and technically are high enough to push us into Level 3,” Mayor John Suthers said in a tweet Friday. “I’m grateful to the El Paso County Health Department for their efforts to create a mitigation plan, which keeps us from taking more drastic measures at this time. But make no mistake, if our numbers do not turn around, we will see further restrictions on our economy, and more importantly, we could see avoidable loss of life.”

As of Thursday, El Paso County’s metrics are

  • Two-week incidence: 278.6
  • Two-week test positivity rate: 6.94%
  • Hospitalizations: While the daily admissions are stabilizing (although at an elevated level), there are concerns for the near future based on increasing hospitalizations.

On Wednesday, Pueblo imposed a citywide curfew, their two week positivity rate is at 5.6%. El Paso County reported a 6.94% two week positivity rate on Friday.

“I think Pueblo is different,” said El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller. “We don’t have the data to support that will work for El Paso County and or that’s the thing that will bring things down so at this point it a shot in the dark.”

Gym owners are feeling pressure like Mark Vohsmann owner of Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping in Colorado Springs. He said his team is constantly following guidelines and implementing sanitation practices and more.

“It takes everything you do every month to basically make it in a normal world, so take 75% of that away and try to figure how these business are supposed to make it,” said Vohsmann.

Vohsmann said his team will work on a new plan come this weekend.

As of Friday, there are no reported active COVID-19 outbreaks in El Paso County gyms.

Within the state, one active outbreak has been reported at an Orangetheory gym in Broomfield.

“We’d been adhering to virtually everything as best a person can, and then to have this happen it’s like we are trying to do everything we can now what am I supposed to do?” asked Vohsmann.

Waller said the state did not give the county enough time to look at data and come up with an improved plan.

“We don’t want to shut gyms down that shouldn’t be shut down and implement further restriction and we want to have the opportunity and ability to find out where it’s coming from so we can take appropriate actions,” said Waller.

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