(updated 1/1/21) Starting Jan. 4, restaurants in Las Animas and Huerfano counties can reopen for indoor dining, as Gov. Polis turns “red” counties “orange”

by Mark Craddock

Gov. Jared Polis announced via Twitter Wednesday night that he is asking the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to move all counties in the “Red – extreme risk” designation on the state’s COVID-19 dial to “Orange,” effective Monday, Jan. 4.

This will loosen several public health restrictions — most notably allowing restaurants to open indoor dining at 25% capacity — and will apply to 33 “red” counties statewide, including Huerfano and Las Animas counties.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have had to walk a difficult line between the public health crisis and the economic crisis,” Polis wrote. “In reviewing the data today, Colorado has been in a sustained decline for 13 days, and only 73% of ICU beds statewide are in use.” 

“This is a direct result of Coloradans stepping up and taking the steps to protect themselves and others,” Polis’ Tweet read. “In light of this and based on the data, I’m asking the CDPHE to move counties in Red on the dial to Orange, effective Monday, January 4, 2021.”

(UPDATED 1/1/21) On Dec. 31, Las Animas Huerfano Counties District Health Department reported it received the official email from CDPHE Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan.

 “This email is your official notification that as a county in Level Red, your Dial level will be Orange effective on Monday, January 4,” the e-mail read. “As always, you may put more restrictive orders in place.”

Effective Monday, January 4, 2020 at 12:01am both Huerfano and Las Animas Counties will be moving on the COVID-19 Dial from Red to Orange.

Las Animas Huerfano Counties District Health Department Public Health Director Kim Gonzales said. “We know many of our businesses and workers have been struggling, so this move to Level Orange is very much welcome and deserved,” district health department Director Kim Gonzales said. “Both Las Animas and Huerfano County residents and businesses have earned this through lots of hard work and commitment to keeping our community safe and healthy.”

CDPHE moved Las Animas County from orange to red on the dial Nov. 27, after an October and November surge in COVID-19 cases. Huerfano County, which experienced a tragic surge in cases and deaths – mostly at the Spanish Peaks Veterans Community Living Center, was designated “red” on Dec. 7.

Polis emphasized that his request “applies to counties in Red, which is the category designed to prevent us from having to lockdown in ‘purple.’ ”

“I’m excited we have thus far successfully avoided another lockdown,” Polis wrote. “To save lives, maybe even your own, it is more important than ever that Coloradans not gather outside their household to celebrate the New Year, and to continue to take the basic steps to protect themselves and others, like wearing masks, only interacting with their own households, and staying six feet apart from others when in public.”