As the third-wave surge continues to impact Colorado, the state has recently announced a number of new orders to help combat COVID-19. Over the past few days a string of executive orders by Governor Polis and related public health orders have been made that physicians and their practice teams should be aware of:
- COVID Dial – A public health order changed the state’s dial system to add a new, sixth level of purple, effectively pushing back the old red level that according to old metrics would have forced many counties to have shut down by now. Fifteen counties will be designated at the red level on Friday, November 20, and five more counties will be added to the list on Sunday (more information here). Besides stopping indoor dining and personal gatherings, closing alcohol sales at restaurants and bars at 8 p.m., and reducing office and gym capacities to 10 percent, the order allows critical businesses like physician practices to remain open. You must continue to current state health department requirements like physical distancing and limited capacity.
- Elective procedures – There was concern that elective procedures were once again going to be stopped entirely as they were in the spring. While many hospitals around the state have already begun to pause those procedures to increase capacity for COVID and other related care, the Nov. 13 executive order and the implementing Nov. 18 public health order provide for more flexibility. These orders apply directly to hospitals and hospital-owned ASCs and require increased reporting, planning and, if necessary, temporary cessation of elective procedures based upon three tiers if a series of inpatient hospital metrics reach critical stages. The order does not apply to privately owned ASCs.
These orders come on the heels of a concerning epidemiological data as cases spike, hospitalizations have eclipsed the spring surge levels, and statewide staffed hospital bed capacity is at 80 percent (with some hospitals like Parkview in Pueblo and St. Mary’s in Grand Junction at 100 percent). Review the latest epidemiology data from a special governor’s stakeholder meeting with frontline providers held Nov. 19, 2020. CMS thanks you for continuing to encourage your patients, friends, neighbors and community members work even harder to follow public health guidance to socially distance, wear masks in public, wash hands and stay home when they are sick.