Tighter COVID rules possible for Grand
The state has asked the Grand Board of County Commissioners to consider stricter COVID-19 measures.
On Tuesday, Mara Brosy-Wiwchar of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommended that Grand move to stricter COVID guidelines. However, because Grand’s numbers have danced around the metrics to trigger a change, the state wanted to discuss with the county how Grand might move forward.
The county’s COVID-19 numbers and other metrics have fluctuated near Level 3 (high risk) of the state’s safer at home restrictions. Grand County has stayed in Level 2 (concern restrictions) since the state’s framework was implemented.
Grand County has coasted in Level 3 COVID rates since Oct. 29. In the last week, numbers have increasingly moved toward Stay at Home levels.
The biggest change with Level 3 would be reduced capacity for almost all types of business. Currently, restaurants and retail can operate at 50% capacity, but with the proposed restrictions, capacity would go down to 25%. Houses of worship would also be reduced to a 25% capacity.
According to Brosy-Wiwchar, 14 Colorado counties are currently in Level 3, but the state expects that to grow to 21 by the end of the week.
“We are seeing COVID cases rise everywhere,” she explained of Colorado’s cases as a whole. “We are headed on a pretty terrible trajectory.”
Like the state, the county has seen a growing number of cases, though it oscillates day by day. As of Monday, Grand County has seen 41 COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks totaling 193 resident cases since the pandemic began. Three people are hospitalized and 427 residents are on quarantine and isolation orders, which was a major jump this weekend, according to Grand County Public Health officials.
West Grand High School and East Grand Middle School have both moved to online learning through Thanksgiving Break due to confirmed cases at the schools. The BOCC meeting was online this week after a county employee tested positive for COVID.
The county commissioners were torn about increasing restrictions. All expressed their worries for local businesses weathering the reduced capacities.
Instead of Level 3 restrictions, Grand County Commissioner Kris Manguso recommended increasing voluntary public health education and compliance while Commissioner Rich Cimino asked for a more “tepid” response to keep businesses at their current capacity.
However, the impending ski season also weighs on the decision. Winter Park Resort plans to open at the end of this month, and Granby Ranch aims to open Dec. 11.
Dr. Darcy Selenke, Grand County Public Health’s medical director, said that implementing Level 3 for two weeks and re-evaluating might be more effective to reduce cases rather than hoping for compliance or implementing smaller changes. She pushed for strong action now to make sure the ski resorts could open.
“In two weeks, we will be at the time when (Winter Park Resort) wanted to open and we will be on the cusp of when Granby Ranch wants to open — when our businesses really need to be open,” Selenke said. “By Dec. 1, winter operations have got to be open to make money.”
The board decided additional discussions with business owners would be needed before a decision could be made. The commissioners are planning to meet both as the Grand County Board of Health and with the county’s Business Emergency Response Team on Thursday with a decision to be made by the end of that day.
Grand County Public Health Director Brene Belew-Ladue said she was seriously looking at the increased restrictions but was open to Thursday’s discussions.
Public health officials and the commissioners agreed that the county did not want to move between opening and closing repeatedly through the winter.
“We cannot do that. We can’t go up and down, up and down,” Selenke added. “We have go to get a good plan, a secure plan in place that is effective for the next six months.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that current COVID-19 numbers have moved toward Stay at Home levels and have remained in Safer 3 level since Oct. 29.
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Ghosts, and goblins, and ghouls, oh my!