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Increase in COVID cases puts Larimer County variance at risk, health department says

Larimer County Public Health said CDPHE is requiring the county to create a mitigation plan showing how it will stabilize case counts.
Credit: KISA
Old Town Fort Collins (File).

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — The state health department has notified Larimer County that an increase in daily case counts for COVID-19 has put the county's variance at risk, said Larimer County Public Health (LCPH) on Saturday.

The county is reporting 1,035 cumulative cases and 31 deaths since the start of the pandemic in March. LCPH said many recent cases are connected to Fourth of July gatherings.

Larimer County must create a mitigation plan by Monday that shows how it will decrease and stabilize case counts, LCPH says in a press release. The plan must include strong community enforcement and compliance for face coverings, social distancing and following of guidelines for businesses.

"A revocation of the variance could potentially impact our restaurants and breweries, places of worship, public gathering sites and graduations," says the release.

Larimer County's variance, approved on May 23 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, covers: public gatherings, indoor malls, personal services, restaurants, general recreation and camping, graduations, places of worship, gyms, theaters, bowling alleys, pools, recreational equipment rental, short-term lodging and libraries.

According to the variance, the openings were contingent on the county maintaining a low number of cases. It says that if the county received reports of more than 25 new cases on three separate days over a 14-day period, the variance would be rescinded.

Since July 4, Larimer has reported 263 new cases. On three days -- July 12, 15 and 16 -- the new cases were more than 30.

LCPH said that contract tracing showed much of the spread was connected to large gatherings.

"I know that we will regroup and reverse this uptick," says Tom Gonzales, public health director for Larimer County, in the release. "But in order to do that, we must all take this seriously and be diligent. ... We must slow our case count to keep businesses open."

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