The Yuma County Task Force voted late last week to move to the next phase of the Yuma County Variance.
Phase II keeps the 50-percent occupancy but allows gatherings up to 100 for those with a high-enough occupancy rate.
If things progress in a positive manner, the Task Force can vote again in three weeks to go to Phase III, which increases the gathering maximum to 175.
The Task Force consists of representatives of the Yuma County government, Yuma, Eckley and Wray municipalities and the Yuma and Wray hospitals.
Yuma County Commissioner Robin Wiley heads the Task Force. He stressed that as things open up more, and larger number of people are able to gather together, county residents need to make sure to follow social distancing and face covering practices.
“We’re trying to get people to follow these guidelines to keep everybody safe,” he said.
Even as Yuma County is opening up more in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, confirmed cases in the county continue to rise.
The county was up to 48 confirmed cases as of late Tuesday afternoon, according to the latest update on the Northeast Colorado Health Department’s website, nchd.org.
Of those cases, more than 30 are considered active. (The county’s first confirmed case was reported March 18.)
Yuma County has seen an increase of 38 cases in the past month, going from 10 on May 9, to the number at the end of Tuesday, June 9.
Therefore, health and community leaders continue to stress the need for people to continue to practice safety guidelines.
Some trigger points for rescinding the Yuma County variance were put in place when the plan was approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment late last month. One was if the county experienced 10 new cases in a seven-day period.
That did occur, but the NCHD worked with the state in keeping the variance active, instead focusing on keeping COVID-19 patients in the Yuma County hospitals below 25-percent of capacity, and keeping the percentage of positive cases out of all the tests administered below the state average.
Task force approves plans
Some businesses, such as restaurants, could reopen under the state’s guidelines, so they did not have to submit reopening plans to the Yuma County Task Force for approval.
However, other businesses, such as movie theaters, can reopen under the Yuma County variance, that otherwise could not if still under the state guidelines.
Wiley said such businesses need to work with their local government, such as the City of Yuma, then that entity will submit it to the Task Force for approval
Anyone wanting to have gathering in a public facility is supposed to submit plans for approval as well.
The City of Yuma has gone through a series of plans that have been approved by the Task Force, leading to the reopening of the swimming pool, City Hall and the library, and the beginning of summer recreation leagues. Yuma School District-1 also has had its plan for holding workouts for its high school student-athletes approved.