Mesa County Moves to Level Orange on the CO COVID-19 Risk Dial

Finn Witham, Reporter

On January 4, Mesa County moved from level red to level orange on the Colorado COVID-19 Risk Dial. This means that restaurants can now open at 25% capacity and non-essential retail can move to 50% capacity. This occurred after Governor Polis announced that all red counties could move to orange after a statewide decline in hospitalizations, cases, and percent positivity for COVID-19. 

However, several restaurants and businesses will not be extraordinarily affected by the shift. This is because of Mesa County Health’s Variance Protection Program (VPP), which has allowed businesses who have demonstrated safety to operate with fewer COVID-19 restrictions. Jeff Kuhr, the Mesa County Public Health Director, told Western Slope Now that many Mesa County businesses have already been meeting orange level protocols. 

Many local business owners, including Grand Valley Books owner Margie Wilsion, feel that the shift will increase business and stimulate the economy. It remains to be seen whether or not COVID-19 will continue to slow. Public health officials are still urging mask wearing and limited interaction with non-household people.