Yuma County downgraded to Level 2

Yuma County has been moved to the more-restrictive Safer Level 2 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, as COVID-19 cases have continued to rise.
All of northeast Colorado counties now are at Level 2, except for Logan County, which has been moved to the even more-restrictive Level 3.

Level 2 means personal gatherings are to be limited to no more than 10 people.
Places of worship and restaurants are to be limited to 50 or 50-percent of capacity up to 100.
Indoor events are to be capped at 50 percent with a 100 person cap.
Outdoor events are at 50 percent or a cap of 175 people.
Group sports also are to be capped at 25 people per activity. However, CHSAA’s variance still allows 50 per team for football.
The outdoor events cap means only 175 spectators per team for Friday night’s home football game against Highland. It had been at 250 per team. Each player now gets two tickets to dole out instead of three. Games can be watched online on the NHFS Network.
Yuma County has had 46 new cases over two weeks, as of earlier this week. The two-week average positivity rate was 10 percent, according to the state’s COVID dashboard.
According to the Northeast Colorado Health Department’s COVID dashboard, Yuma County had 62 active cases as of October 19, dropping from a high of 66 on October 18. The county had dropped to as low as 46 estimated active cases on October 13.
Yuma County has had 140 new cases since September 1, an average of 20 new cases per week over seven weeks. Hospitalizations remain minimal according to the dashboards.
The Yuma County COVID-19 Task Force reports that case counts must drop to no more than 17 active cases, or the county could be moved to the next restrictive level in two weeks’ time.
Please read more from the Task Force below.

Junior high back to remote
Yuma Middle School’s seventh and eighth grades went on remote learning beginning this past Monday, and continuing through Thursday, October 29.
The move was made due to one positive test in the YMS community, which resulted in quarantine requirements on staff. It is the second time this year the seventh-graders have had to go to remote learning.
There were two active cases within the school district as of Monday. The district has stayed under the 10 active cases threshold for two weeks, allowing the schools to go to Green Phase this week.

Yuma County COVID Task Force report
Yuma County was notified late Friday evening that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) planned to update our status on the State’s Dial Metric to Safer Level 2: Concern.
Following the implementation of the State’s dial metric, the Yuma County COVID Task Force began collective work to interpret and implement the updated monitoring framework. The Yuma County COVID Task Force is comprised of the County Commissioners, the County Administrator, City Managers, City officials, the Northeast Colorado Health Department Director, and Administrators and clinical staff from both local hospitals.
On September 29, Yuma County received a letter from CDPHE noting an increase in local COVID tracking metrics based on this new model. The Task Force responded by making minor updates to the existing local Mitigation and Containment plan and submitted the plan to CDPHE. The plan, at the time, was accepted without comment.

On October 15 the County Commissioner’s Office, local healthcare officials, and the Northeast Colorado Health Department met with CDPHE to discuss local metrics and response tactics. The group leaned heavily on the strength of partnership and communication demonstrated by the local COVID Task Force in requesting an additional day to develop local protocols for response. CDPHE agreed to allow the COVID Task Force the opportunity to present a locally-developed alternative plan focused on the local situation as opposed to a state perception.
Local leaders developed just such a plan, including voluntary decreases to gathering sizes and the implementation of a strategic marketing plan designed to target the areas of highest case instances within our local community.
The plan was presented to CDPHE by the Northeast Colorado Health Department. Unfortunately, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment denied the local plan and provided notice of moving Yuma County to Safer Level 2 effective immediately.
The Yuma County COVID Task Force is disappointed at the move as it includes restrictions determined at the state level as opposed to being determined by local officials. Unfortunately, the change also means that the variance under which Yuma County had previously been operating has also been revoked.
The Yuma County case rates and assigned Dial Metric level will now be reassessed by CDPHE every two weeks. In order to move to a more open level, local COVID metrics must be improved and remain improved for at least two full weeks. If local metrics do not improve or worsen, CDPHE may impose more restrictive measures.
Yuma County currently sits at 45 active cases total. In order to maintain even this new more restrictive model, case counts must drop to no more than 17 active cases. Without collective effort to decrease our case counts and positivity rates, Yuma County could expect to be moved to the next more restrictive level in just two weeks’ time.
Residents of Yuma County should monitor Northeast Colorado Health Department resources for guidance on current restrictions.
The COVID Task Force is imploring our local community to rally around our children in school and sports, our vulnerable elderly both in elder care facilities and in their homes, and our local businesses who have had a tremendously difficult year. Our only remaining opportunity to protect and aide our friends, neighbors, and community lies in our willingness to participate in the process of decreasing our local metrics. We do not have control over all of the consequences we are likely to face as a community if we are unable to decrease our metrics. We ask each of you to assess your commitment to our local children, to our local vulnerable community members, and to our local business and to pull together in improving metrics.