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Crowley, Otero and three other counties tighten COVID restrictions due to rising cases, hospitalizations

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Robert Davis | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Several Colorado counties are tightening up COVID-19 restrictions as daily cases and hospitalizations continue to increase.

Adams, Arapahoe, Crowley, Denver and Otero Counties are implementing tougher restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said during a press conference Tuesday that the city will join afternoon. The new classification caps dine-in restaurant service at 25% -- down from 50% -- with a 50-person cap. Retail and places of worship are also limited to 25% capacity.

Arapahoe, Otero, and Crowley Counties will move to the less restrictive Safer Level 2 classification on Friday.

Denver previously restricted in-person gatherings to five people and expanded a face mask mandate on October 16.

Cultural institutions such as the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Zoo, and the Denver Botanic Gardens will be allowed to continue operating under the current Safer Level 2 classification.

During the press conference, Hancock thanked Denverites for their ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the disease, efforts which cost the city over $190 million in revenue.

Hancock also said the increase in cases is likely due to the number of people visiting from outside the city.

“Denverites are doing a great job wearing masks and practicing social distancing since March,” the mayor said. “However, we cannot control what our neighbors are doing when they visit Colorado.”

If the city isn’t able to lower its metrics, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Bob McDonald said all signs point toward another Stay at Home order, which prohibited residents from traveling to work unless they were employed in a critical industry. The state exempted construction, grocery stores, and medical service providers from its original Stay at Home order in April.

Part of the reason for the tougher restrictions, according to McDonald, is the state’s increase in case counts and hospitalizations, both of which are currently stressing Colorado’s hospital system.

Colorado’s case count as of October 26 is 385 per 100,000, and its two-week positivity rate has crept up to 7.3%. Denver will need to get its case count down to 175 per 100,000 for two consecutive weeks before restrictions can be lifted.

Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday that 591 people were hospitalized from COVID-19 as of Monday, the highest number of hospitalizations since May. The mortality rate of those hospitalized patients is currently 4%, down from over 15% in March, Polis said, attributing the decrease to "better standards of care."