COVID-19 dial

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Colorado’s dial framework standardizes different levels of “openness” at the county level. It is a tool that allows Colorado to balance the urgent need to contain the virus with the need for localized guidance during the pandemic.

Fast facts

  • Colorado’s dial framework has six color levels to provide guidance to counties.
  • Counties can move back and forth between levels, depending primarily on three metrics.
  • Levels are based on the number of new cases, the percent positivity of COVID-19 tests, and the impact on hospitals, as well as local considerations. As the dial moves left, toward Protect Our Neighbors, more people can participate in various activities.  
  • This framework gives communities a tool to make life in the pandemic more sustainable. 

Dial Framework Fact Sheet | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली

COVID-19 dial dashboard

 

The COVID-19 dial dashboard tracks the progress of each county using key metrics. Communities will move between levels based on the metrics. 

 View your county's level

 

 Estatus del COVID-19 en los Condados

Counties may now submit letters requesting a new level designationThe state is in constant communication with counties to determine if/when stricter restrictions are needed.

What are the metrics we use to determine levels? 

  1. New cases: How much the virus is circulating in a county.
  2. Percent positivity: Whether there is sufficient COVID-19 testing to capture the level of virus transmission.
  3. Impact on hospitalizations: Whether hospitalizations are increasing, stable, or declining.

To move to a less restrictive level (e.g., Level Yellow to Blue), counties need to meet and sustain all three metrics for two weeks. Counties must engage in a consultation process with CDPHE, which may entail moving to a more restrictive level when they are out of compliance with any of the metrics for more than two weeks.

 

Metrics and Requirements: What They Mean | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

Explanation of levels and capacity limits

Local public health agencies are able to contain surges in cases and outbreaks through testing, case investigation, contact tracing, isolation, quarantine, site-specific closures, and enforcement of public health orders.

Does your county qualify?

  • Sufficient hospital bed capacity.
  • Sufficient PPE supply.
  • Stable or declining COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • Sufficient testing capacity.
  • Fewer new cases.
  • Ability to implement case investigation and contact tracing protocol.
  • Documented surge-capacity plan for case investigation and contact tracing.
  • Documented strategies to offer testing to close contacts.

Level green capacity limits infographic infographic showing the metrics for COVID-19 dial level green

Level Green: Guidelines and Restrictions | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

Level Green: Requirements | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

This is less restrictive than Level Yellow. This level is for counties with low virus transmission but that have not yet achieved Level Green metrics. 

Does your county qualify?

  • 5% of less positivity rate.
  • 0-75 cases per 100,000.
  • No more than two new COVID-19 hospital admissions per day.

Level blue capacity limits infographic infographic showing the metrics for COVID-19 dial level blue

Level Blue: Guidelines and Restrictions | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

Level Blue: Requirements | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

The baseline. While we are all still safer at home, we are also able to practice greater social distancing in our great outdoors than in confined indoor spaces.

Does your county qualify?

  • 10% positivity rate or less.
  • 75-175 cases per 100,000.
  • No more than two new COVID-19 hospital admissions per day.

Level yellow capacity limits infographic infographic showing the metrics for COVID-19 dial level yellow

Level Yellow: Guidelines and Restrictions | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

Level Yellow: Requirements | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

This is more restrictive than Level Yellow, for counties experiencing increases in the metrics. Action is needed, but Stay at Home may not be warranted. 

Does your county qualify?

  • 15% positivity rate or less.
  • 175-350 cases per 100,000.
  • Greater than two new COVID-19 hospital admissions per day.

 

Level orange capacity limits infographic infographic showing the metrics for COVID-19 dial level orange

 

Level Orange: Guidelines and Restrictions | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

Level Orange: Requirements | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

This level is for counties with high levels of transmission, hospitalizations, and positivity rates. Most indoor activities are prohibited or strictly limited, and outdoor activities are encouraged as an alternative.

Does your county qualify?

  • More than 15% positivity rates.
  • 350+ cases per 100,000.
  • Greater than two new COVID-19 hospital admissions per day.

Level red capacity limits infographic infographic showing the metrics for COVID-19 dial level red

Level Red: Guidelines and Restrictions | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

Level Red: Requirements | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

Hospital capacity risks being breached, which may be indicated by:

  • Approaching the need for medical crisis standards of care,
  • Utilizing alternative care sites,
  • Critical shortages of PPE or staff,
  • Or hospitals approaching 90% of their reported surge capacity

Level purple capacity limits infographic infographic showing the metrics for COVID-19 dial level purple

Level Purple: Guidelines and Restrictions | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली  

Level Purple: Requirements | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली 

What are the capacity restrictions at each level?

 

LEVEL GREEN: PROTECT OUR NEIGHBORS
LEVEL BLUE: 
CAUTION
LEVEL YELLOW: 
CONCERN
LEVEL ORANGE:
HIGH RISK
LEVEL RED:
SEVERE RISK
LEVEL PURPLE:
EXTREME RISK

High Risk Populations

Use caution

Eligible for worker benefits and mandatory prioritization for remote work

Use caution

Eligible for worker benefits and mandatory prioritization for remote work

Advised to Stay at Home

Eligible for worker benefits and mandatory prioritization for remote work

Strongly advised to Stay at Home

Eligible for worker benefits and mandatory prioritization for remote work

Stay at Home

Eligible for worker benefits and mandatory prioritization for remote work 

 

Stay at Home Ordered

Eligible for worker benefits and mandatory prioritization for remote work  

Variances

Eligible for both outdoor and indoor site-specific variances if approved by LPHA

Eligible for both outdoor and indoor site-specific variances if approved by LPHA

Eligible for outdoor site-specific variances if approved by LPHA

Not eligible

Not eligible-

current variances reevaluated

Not eligible

Current variances revoked unless specifically allowed 

Personal Gathering Size

Per local guidance

Up to 10 from no more than 2 households

Up to 10 from no more than 2 households

Up to 10 from no more than 2 households

None

None

Childcare

Open

Open

Open

Open

Open

Open

P-12 Schools

In-person

In-person

In-person suggested, hybrid, or remote as appropriate

In-person suggested, hybrid,or remote as appropriate

P-5 in person suggested, or hybrid or remote as appropriate

Middle school in-person, hybrid,  or remote suggested,

High school hybrid or remote suggested

In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate

Higher Education

In-person

In-person

In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate

In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate 

Remote suggested, limited in-person when necessary

Remote suggested, very limited in-person when necessary

Places of Worship and Life Rites - Indoor unseated functions

50%*, 500

50%, 175 people

50%, 50 no calculator, or up to 100 with calculator

6

25%, 50 (with calculator)

25%, 50 (with calculator)

Remote, virtual service, or outdoor are strongly encouraged; indoors up to 10 

Places of Worship and Life Rites - Indoor seated functions

50%*, 500

50%, 175 person cap

50%, 100 person cap 

25%, 50 person cap

25%, 50 person cap

Remote, virtual service, or outdoor are strongly encouraged; indoors up to 10 

Places of Worship and Life Rites - Outdoors

6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning

6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning

6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning

6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning

6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning

6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning

Restaurants

50%*, 500

6ft between parties outdoors per guidance

50%, 175 indoors

6ft between parties outdoors per guidance

50%, 50 (or up to 100 with calculator)

6ft between parties outdoors per guidance

25%, 50

6ft between parties outdoors per guidance

Indoor dining closed. Take out, curbside, delivery, or to go, outdoor/open air with only groups of own household is open.

Indoor and outdoor dining closed. Take out, delivery, or to go is open.

Last Call

Per local

12pm (on premise)

11pm (on premise)

10pm (on premise)

8pm (on premise)

No on premise service

Non-Critical  Manufacturing

50%*, 500

50%, 175

50%, 50 (or up to 100 with calculator)

25%, 50

25%, 50

10%/25

Offices

50%*

50%

50%, Remote work is strongly encouraged

25%, Remote work is strongly encouraged

10%, Remote work is strongly encouraged 

Remote work or Closed

Bars

50%*, 500

Closed

Closed

Closed

Closed

Closed

Gyms/Fitness

50%*, 500

25%, 75

25%, 50

25%, 25 indoors, or outdoors in groups less than 10

10%, 10 indoors per room, or outdoors in groups less than 10. Reservations required

Virtual, or outdoors in groups less than 10

Group Sports and Camps

50%*, 500

50 person cap per activity

25 person cap per activity

Virtual, or outdoors in groups less than 10

Virtual, or outdoors in groups less than 10

Virtual, or outdoors in groups less than 10

Critical and Non Critical Retail

50%*

50%

50%

50% with increased curbside pick up, and delivery. Dedicated senior and at-risk hours encouraged.

50% with increased curbside pick up, and delivery. Dedicated senior and at-risk hours encouraged.

Curbside, pick up, and delivery

Personal Services

50%*, 500

50%, 50

50%, 50

25%, 25

25%, 25

Closed

Limited Health Care Settings

50%*, 500

50%, 50

50%, 50

25%, 25

25%, 25

10%, 25

Indoor Unseated Events

50%*, 500

50%, 175 person cap

50%, 50 no calculator, (or up to 100 with calculator)

25%, 50 person cap (with calculator)

Closed 

Closed

Indoor Seated Events and Entertainment

50%*, 500

50%, 175 person cap

50%, 100 person cap (6ft distancing between parties)

25%, 50 person cap (6ft distancing between parties)

Closed 

Closed

Outdoor Unseated Events and Entertainment

50%*, 500

50%, 250 person cap

50%, 175 person cap (with calculator)

25%, 75 person cap (with calculator)

25%, 75 people (with calculator), attended only with members of your own household and 6ft spacing between groups

Closed

Outdoor Seated Events and Entertainment

50%*, 500

50%, 250 person cap

50%, 175 person cap (6ft distancing between parties)

25%, 75 person cap (6ft distancing between parties)

25%, 75 people (6f

t distancing between parties), attended only with members of your own household and 6ft spacing between groups

Closed

Outdoor Guided Services  and Entertainment

50%*, 500

50%, 25

50%, 10

25%, 10

25%, 10

25%, up to 10 only in your own household

*Counties that enter Protect Our Neighbors are eligible to increase the percentage caps by 5% every month they continually sustain those metrics.

Download this capacity restrictions chart.

Level Green

Level Blue

Level Yellow

Level Orange

Level Red

Level Purple

  • Rio Blanco
  • Cheyenne
  • Dolores
  • Hinsdale
  • Huerfano
  • Lincoln
  • Chaffee
  • Delta
  • Fremont
  • Gunnison
  • Jackson
  • Las Animas
  • Montrose
  • Park
  • Rio Grande
  • Saguache
  • Yuma
  • Archuleta
  • Baca
  • Bent
  • Conejos
  • Crowley
  • Custer
  • Eagle
  • El Paso
  • Elbert
  • Garfield
  • Gilpin
  • Grand
  • Kiowa
  • Kit Carson
  • Lake
  • Larimer
  • Mineral
  • Moffat
  • Montezuma
  • Montrose
  • Ouray
  • Phillips
  • Pitkin
  • San Juan
  • San Miguel
  • Sedgwick
  • Teller
  • Adams
  • Alamosa
  • Arapahoe
  • Boulder
  • Broomfield
  • Clear Creek
  • Denver
  • Douglas
  • Jefferson
  • La Plata
  • Logan
  • Mesa
  • Morgan
  • Otero
  • Prowers
  • Pueblo
  • Routt
  • Summit
  • Washington
  • Weld

 

 

Frequently asked questions about the dial framework

The dial adds simplicity, transparency, and predictability to how we open -- or close -- based on virus transmission levels. The dial makes it possible for all counties to achieve many of the increased capacity allowances that were granted to various counties under the original variance process. Additionally, the dial mitigation process typically gives counties two weeks to implement mitigation measures. This process and metric criteria are less restrictive and create more flexibility for disease incidence fluctuations.

Under all levels, people who have a positive COVID-19 test or symptoms must isolate. People who think they have been exposed should get tested and quarantine.

Under all levels, you should take preventive actions to limit your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. These actions include:

  • Staying home when sick.
  • Wearing a mask when out in public.
  • Washing hands frequently.
  • Keeping at least 6 feet of distance from people who don’t live with you.
  • Following local orders in the community where you live or visit.
  • Avoiding social interactions.
  • Carefully considering the risks of activities you choose to participate in.

Essential work and essential activities are allowed under all levels. All levels require us to continue to support and protect people who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including older adults and people with underlying medical conditions.

Each level allows for different amounts of economic and social activity, depending on how the disease is spreading in specific communities.

Find your county’s level on the COVID-19 Dial Dashboard

People should be aware of and follow the rules in their local community and in the communities they are visiting. The most restrictive state or local orders apply.

Follow the orders in the community in which you are physically present. For example, if you work and live in different counties, follow each county’s rules when you are in that county.

Colorado law requires compliance with executive and public health orders. Not following these orders is breaking the law. We all must do our part to mitigate the virus, and we ask everyone to voluntarily comply with guidance because it is what will keep you safer. Law enforcement or legal involvement is reserved for the most serious circumstances.

If you suspect that a person or business is violating orders, you should first contact your local public health agency to report any concerns.

Counties with a current site-specific variance or a variance with allowances that exceed the new framework will retain those variance(s). Under the new dial framework, counties will be able to apply for new or additional site-specific variances approved by their LPHA, but CDPHE will not accept county-wide variances in this new framework.

Site-specific variances allow indoor and outdoor venues that meet specific criteria to operate after receiving approvals from the county’s local public health agency and then CDPHE. These variances are for individual venues -- they are not county-wide. Learn more about site-specific variances guidelines. Previously approved county-wide variances apply to all venues in a particular sector or industry across a county. CDPHE will not accept county-wide variances in this new framework.

No, counties and regions must follow the same certification process to enter Protect Our Neighbors. View the certification guide, and view the certification form.

The Protect Our Neighbors certification process measures the underlying public health system strength, so it requires different metrics. The Protect Our Neighbors level also increases local control and accountability, so this level puts more weight on those criteria.

Yes. Counties are welcome to form regional collaboratives for the purpose of transitioning between dial levels. This would mean level metrics are measured on a region-wide (as opposed to county-wide) basis, and all counties within the region transition across levels together.

Yes, all of the best practices recommended in sector guidance still apply to counties in Level Blue: Cautious, Level Yellow: Concern, and Level Orange: High Risk, as well as Level Green. However, the capacity percentages and caps adjust according to whatever dial level the county is currently in. Learn more about how capacity caps differ based on dial level. 

To move to a less restrictive level (e.g., Level Yellow to Level Blue), the county needs to meet and sustain all three metrics for a two-week period. Once the county meets those metrics, the LPHA must formally notify CDPHE if it would like to move to a less restrictive level.

LPHAs can notify CDPHE by completing this form

Form submissions should include a letter co-signed by the required stakeholders, or a series of letters from the required stakeholders. Those stakeholders include:

  • The local public health agency.
  • All hospitals within the county or region (unless there are no hospitals located in the county).
    • Hospitals must verify that they have the capacity to serve all people needing their care.
  • A majority of county commissioners.
  • Sovereign nations, if applicable.

Local variances

This framework will replace the general variance process in most cases. At the outset, all variances remain intact, either because the variance fits under the dial framework, or because they are still recognized. Future changes occur according to the dial.

Variances that remain intact

While general variances, such as for restaurants or gyms, are replaced by the dial framework, there still is a process for site-specific variances, for places like extra-large venues or events. Read more about the process

County Site variance
Adams Gaylord of the Rockies
Denver

Denver Zoo
Botanic Gardens
Cherry Creek Mall
Four Mile Park
National Western Complex

Douglas Park Meadows Mall
El Paso Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water Park
Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Flying W Ranch
Garfield Iron Mountain Hot Springs
Glenwood Hot Springs
Hanging Lake
Jefferson Butterfly Pavilion
Chatfield Farms
Pueblo  Pueblo Zoo

Frequently asked questions about local variances

These variances allow indoor and outdoor venues that meet specific criteria to operate after receiving approvals from the county’s local public health agency and then, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

  • A county can apply with the state for up to 10 variances per 100,000 people for indoor and outdoor venues after first getting approval from the county’s local public health agency.
  • The variances apply to venues that are 30,000 square feet or larger. Other venues fit within existing capacity limits.
  • Counties that are in Level Blue on the dial may apply for outdoor and indoor site-specific variances.
  • Counties that are in Level Yellow on the dial may only apply for outdoor site-specific variances.

CDPHE will not grant any variances that: 

  • Seek a higher capacity than 50%.
  • Seek to be removed from the requirements of the state’s orders generally.
  • Reduce or eliminate protections for people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, as defined in state’s orders. These groups are specifically protected by the state’s orders. 
  • Seek variances for Public Health Order 20-29: Voluntary and Elective Surgeries and Procedures or PHO 20-20: Restricting Visitors at all Colorado Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living Residences, and Intermediate Care Facilities.
  • Seek variances from the mask order.

Counties that have reviewed and supported a request for a site-specific variance may have their local public health agency submit a complete variance form to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. When completing the application, make sure to:

  • Clearly indicate which site and capacity limitation the county is requesting a variance from. 
  • Describe preventive measures the county will require to meet the state’s orders.
  • Use the social distancing space calculator to determine capacity.
  • Use the outdoor and indoor event guidance to create designated spaces within the site.

Two COVID-19 cases linked to a site automatically require a mitigation plan. The variance may be suspended at any time by CDPHE, if deemed necessary, to mitigate disease spread.