Protect Our Neighbors










House icon with heart in middle and yellow circle highlight

Level 1: Stay at Home

Everyone was required to stay at home except for grocery shopping, exercise and necessary activities. Only critical businesses were open.

Icon with hands holding up house and mountains in the back

Level 2: Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors

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.

Icon with hands holding up three houses

Level 3: Protect Our Neighbors

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


June 30

Protect-Our-Neighbors framework announced.


Week of July 6

More information & training will be provided on the process of applying for certification and available grant funding.

What is Protect Our Neighbors?

Protect Our Neighbors means that communities that meet certain criteria have less stringent restrictions than under Stay-At-Home and Safer-At-Home. Communities may permit activities at 50% of pre-pandemic capacity, with at least 6 feet between non-household members, and no more than 500 people in one setting at a time. Communities that can demonstrate strong public health and health care systems -- paired with low virus levels -- should take on more control over their own reopening plans. Strong local public health and health care systems are the key to reopening the economy. Different communities will be at different phases, based on local conditions and capabilities.

Fast facts

  Protect Our Neighbors empowers local communities.

 Communities must meet criteria to be certified for the Protect Our Neighbors phase.

 Local communities may move between phases.

Steps to qualify for Protect Our Neighbors

  1. Certify qualification according to the scientific metrics below.
  2. Submit a mitigation and containment plan on what the county or region will do if they fall out of compliance with any of the metrics. The plan must also include how counties will promote public compliance with the guidelines; increase mask-wearing in public settings; and increase flu vaccine uptake, to ensure we don’t lose health care system capacity needed for COVID-19.

How to get help moving to Protect Our Neighbors

The state is making additional federal CARES Act funding available. 

  1. Planning Grant of up to $50,000 to engage consultants and community partners, and to fund community engagement efforts with communities impacted by and at increased risk.  
  2. Infrastructure Strengthening Grants of up to $300,000 (up to $150,000 in state funds + local match) to invest in technology; community resource coordination; communication activities to increase compliance with the public health orders; funding for community-based partners and cultural brokers; and enhanced prevention and containment efforts. 

Criteria to qualify for Protect Our Neighbors 

Counties must qualify by meeting scientifically established thresholds of:

  • Low disease transmission levels, 
  • Capacity for testing, case investigation, contact tracing, and outbreak response, and
  • Hospital ability to meet the needs of all patients and handle the surge in demand for intensive hospital care.

In addition, communities must have mitigation and containment plans approved by local elected leaders including county commissioners and mayors, the hospitals that serve the county, law enforcement, emergency management, the local public health director, and if applicable, tribes.