COVID-19 dial

 

 

 

 

 

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Colorado’s dial framework standardizes different levels of “openness” at the county level. It is a tool for counties to use to make life during the pandemic more sustainable, allowing us to balance, to the greatest extent possible, controlling the virus with our social and economic needs. 

Fast facts

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

Dial Framework Fact Sheet | Español

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

Counties were assigned levels on Sept. 15 based on their current capacity limitations from approved variances. In two weeks (Sept. 29), counties may submit letters requesting a new level designation.

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 2 to Level 1), 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.

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.

 

Protect our neighbors capacity limits Protect our neighbors metrics infographic

This is less restrictive than Safer at Home Level 2, for counties with low virus transmission but that have not yet achieved Protect Our Neighbors. 

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.

 

Safer at home level 1 infographic capacity limits infographic showing the metrics for this level

     

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.

 

Safer at home level 2 capacity limits infographic Infographic for the safer at home level 2 metrics.

 

This is more restrictive than Safer at Home Level 2, 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.

 

Safer at home level 3 capacity limits infographic Infographic for safer at home level 3 metrics

 

Everyone is required to stay at home except for grocery shopping, exercise,

and necessary activities. Only critical businesses are open. 

Does your county qualify?

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

 

Stay at home capacity limits infographic Infographic of stay at home level

 

 
Protect Our Neighbors:
CAREFUL
Safer at Home Level 1:
CAUTIOUS
Safer at Home Level 2:
CONCERN
Safer at Home Level 3:
HIGH RISK
Stay at Home:
SEVERE
New Cases
(excluding cases of residents in congregate facilities)

Must achieve all 8 Protect Our Neighbors metrics and complete the certification process

0-75/100,000 2 week incidence >75-175/100,000 2 week incidence >175-350/100,000 2 week incidence >350+/100,000 2 week incidence
% Positivity   No greater than 5% No greater than 10% No greater than 15% No limit

Hospitalizations?

  Stable or declining Stable or declining Increasing Increasing
Guidelines and Restrictions 
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
Personal Gathering Size Per local guidance 25 10 10 None
P-12 Schools In person suggested In person suggested or hybrid, remote as appropriate In person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate Remote suggested, limited in person as appropriate Remote
Higher Education In person suggested In person suggested or hybrid, remote as appropriate In person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate Remote suggested, limited in person as appropriate Remote suggested, very limited in person when necessary
Places of Worship 50%, 500
6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning
50%, 175 indoors
6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning
50%, 50 (or up to 100 with calculator)
6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning
25%, 50
6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning
Remote or virtual service
Restaurants 50%, 500
6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning
50%, 175 indoors
6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning
50%, 50 (or up to 100 with calculator)
6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning
25%, 50
6ft between parties outdoors, per local zoning
Take out or delivery only
Offices 50% 50% 50%, 25% Closed
Bars 50%, 500 Closed Closed Closed Closed
Gyms/Fitness 50%, 500 25%, 75 25%, 50 Virtual, or outdoors in groups less than 10 Virtual, or outdoors in groups less than 10
Group Sports 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
Retail 50% 50% 50% 25% Curbside pick up and online only
Personal Services 50%, 500 50%, 50 50%, 50 25%, 25 Closed
Indoor Events 50%, 500 175 person cap 100 person cap (with calculator) 25 person cap (with calculator) Closed
Outdoor Events 50%, 500 250 person cap 175 person cap (with calculator) 75 person cap (with calculator) Closed
Senior Facilities Outdoor and compassionate visitation, indoor under limited circumstances Outdoor and compassionate visitation, indoor under limited circumstances Outdoor and compassionate visitation, indoor under limited circumstances Closed except for compassionate visitation Closed except for compassionate visitation
Outdoor Recreation 50%, 500 50%, 25 50%, 10 25%, 10 Closed

Frequently asked questions about the dial framework

The new 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 new mitigation process gives counties two weeks to implement mitigation efforts. This process and metric criteria are less restrictive and create more flexibility for disease incidence fluctuations.

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 any of the Safer at Home levels, including Safer at Home 1 - Cautious/Blue, Safer at Home 2 - Concern/Yellow, and Safer at Home 3 - High Risk/Orange, as well as Protect Our Neighbors. However, the capacity percentages and caps adjust according to whatever dial level the county is currently in. Click here to view how the capacity caps differ based on dial level. 

To move to a less restrictive level (e.g., Safer at Home Level 2 to Safer at Home Level 1), 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. This process is outlined here

Site-specific variances
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 1 on the dial may apply for outdoor and indoor site-specific variances.
  • Counties that are in Level 2 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.