Eagle County tightens restrictions as COVID-19 cases rise

Eagle County is tightening restrictions on gatherings and increasing testing efforts in response to growing COVID-19 cases in the region, local health officials announced Friday.

The county — which was one of the first and hardest-hit areas in March before becoming one of Colorado’s best success stories in fighting the virus — implemented an amended health order Friday limiting private gatherings to 10 people or less. Previously, the county did not differentiate between public and private gatherings.

In the amended order, indoor public gatherings can remain at 100 people or less and outdoor public gatherings stayed at a 175-person cap. The major difference: venues and businesses with enough space could previously go over these numbers under a “multiple groups” exception. That exception has been eliminated in the new order, meaning the 100- and 175-person numbers cannot be topped.

Local health officials said transmission has steadily risen over the past few weeks — and especially over the past five days — while the percentage of positive test results also has trended up. Hospitalizations have not yet increased, but officials noted that this number lags behind by several weeks.

“Our community goals are based on slowing the current spread of COVID-19 and keeping transmission rates within Eagle County at low levels,” said Heath Harmon, director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment. “Taking actions now will directly support our longer-term goals including maintaining the current economy, keeping our workforce employed, opening schools, and preparing for a winter with ski resorts opened.”

Other changes include increasing testing capacity and ensuring results within two day, while also assuring paid leave for those forced to isolate or quarantine.

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