News Bites – March 25, 2021
*Larimer County COVID-19 data
- Total Cases: 21,743 (+533 from last week)
- Total Cases in Berthoud: 932 (+16 from last week)
- Deaths: 230 (+0 from last week)
- New positive cases in 24 hours: 78
- 14-Day Case Rate per 100k: 252
- Hospital Utilization: 69%
- ICU Utilization: 75%
- 14-Day test positivity rate: 4.5
- Risk Score: Medium
COVID patients in hospital: 29
- 5.99% of the population of Larimer County has been reported to have contracted the virus. Deaths attributed to the virus comprise 1.06% of reported cases. Of reported deaths 26% were age 75 to 84 and 50% were 85 and older.
Larimer County continues to be at Level Yellow (Concern) on the state’s dial framework.
*Case numbers as of March 24, 2021
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has released the latest update to Colorado’s COVID-19 dial framework called Dial 3.0. The updated dial public health order went into effect Wednesday, March 24. State officials expect that Dial 3.0 will remain in effect until mid-April, at which point the state plans to retire the dial and implement a new public health order that gives greater control over capacity restrictions to local public health agencies.
Dial 3.0 makes it easier for counties to move into Level Green: Protect Our Neighbors, the least restrictive level on the dial. It also removes many of the restrictions that currently apply at that level. Additionally, several restrictions in Level Blue are loosened in Dial 3.0. “Coloradans have made great sacrifices to protect ourselves and our communities from COVID-19 over the past year,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, CDPHE. “While this is still a time for caution, these changes to the Dial better reflect where we are in the pandemic today, and the balance we are trying to strike between disease suppression and economic hardship.”
Dial 3.0 metrics are further simplified and capacity limits are less restrictive. The state will work with counties to confirm their metrics under the new framework.
Tom Gonzales the executive director for Larimer County Public Health said of the new dial, “Local public health agencies are so grateful to help the state in the development of Dial 3.0, while also planning for the next step. While we are all excited to move into this new era, Coloradoans need to remain diligent in practicing basic public health prevention measures, like wearing a face covering, social distancing, and avoiding large indoor gatherings.
The dial framework, originally implemented on September 15, 2020, standardizes the levels of openness or restrictions on a county level, based on the metrics of disease transmission, the level of local testing, and hospitalizations. It is a tool that allows Colorado to tailor its response on a county level, recognizing that conditions will vary locally.
This is the ninth amendment to the public health order. A summary of changes can be viewed by visiting
The Colorado Department of Education submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Education to partially waive state assessment requirements and also opened opportunities for the public to comment on the proposed changes that would reduce the number of tests students would take this spring.
Specifically, the state is asking for a waiver to scale back the federally mandated end-of-year assessments, reducing the number of tests students would take and eliminating the science tests for spring 2021. The one-year changes are being requested due to the unique circumstances of the school year caused by the global pandemic.
Under the plan approved by the legislature and Gov. Polis, students would be required to take only one state test. Students in third, fifth and seventh grade would take the English language arts tests, and students in fourth, sixth and eighth grade would take the math tests.
“Colorado’s No. 1 priority is always the physical and mental health and safety of everyone in our schools,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. “Now that nearly all of the schools in the state are heading back to either in-person learning or hybrid learning, we believe that we will be able to safely test students this spring. By reducing the number of tests, we have taken much of the load off students and educators, but we will still get enough information from the remaining tests to target supports for student groups, schools and districts that need it the most.”
The department is accepting additional feedback on the plan to scale back state assessments through a survey available through Wednesday, March 31.
Additionally, the department is seeking comments on a draft waiver to pause federal accountability requirements for another year. The department anticipates submitting the accountability waiver in early April. The full text of each waiver request and links to provide comments are posted on CDE’s website.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released an updated Public Health Order and guidance for indoor visitation at residential care facilities serving older adults and people with disabilities. The PHO follows a recent update from the Centers for Medicaid Service (CMS).
The revised guidance provides updates regarding indoor visitation, indoor visitation during an outbreak, core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention, outdoor visitation, visitor testing and vaccination, and compassionate care visits.
The visitation guidance allows for increased and more meaningful visitation for residents who have been vaccinated. If a resident is fully vaccinated, the resident can choose to have close contact, including touch, with their visitor while wearing a well-fitting face mask and cleaning their hands before and after.
Indoor visitations are still limited for those who have tested positive for the virus and residents in quarantine as well as those who have not been vaccinated.
The current guidance does not factor in visitor vaccination status. As COVID-19 vaccinations continue to become available to more members of the public, health officials encourage visitors of these facilities to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity to.
North and southbound I-25 between Colorado Highway 402 and US 34 reopened Sunday around 1:30 p.m. following more than a 36-hour closure to clean up and repair the road after a diesel fuel tanker crash that spilled approximately 11,000 gallons of fuel around 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
Crews were required to repave and restripe the effected lanes.
During the closure, the tanker had to be removed and the cleanup of the fuel involved CDOT, local fire authorities, contractors and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Much of those cleanup duties involved on-going issues to ensure the fuel does not contaminate the Big Thompson River. The EPA and others were stationed in the southbound lanes until earlier in the day when an off-road staging area was created. This allowed CDOT to pave and restripe the southbound lanes.
Some of the fuel seeped through the pavement and affected the subsurface, which meant that the affected areas had to be milled down and repaved, especially on the northbound section.
Officials said driver fatigue was being considered the main factor in the crash.
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