State tightens Douglas County's COVID-19 restrictions

New capacity limits for places of worship, restaurants and gyms


After several weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases in Douglas County, the state has decided to move the county to a more restrictive level on its dial framework beginning Nov. 4.

Douglas County, until now, has been at “Safer at Home Level 1,” and will now be moved to Safer at Home Level 2.

This new level of restrictions will impact capacity for indoor and outdoor events, places of worship, restaurants and gyms.

Gyms limitations went from 25% capacity or 75 people to 25% capacity or 50 people. Restaurants and places of worship went from 50% capacity or 175 people to 50% capacity or 50 people.

The state’s “dial framework” outlines five levels of restrictions with the strictest limitations under “Safer at Home” and the most lenient under “Protect Our Neighbor.” Between these are three levels of limitations ranging from “Safer Level 1” to “Safer Level 3.”

Which level a county falls under on the dial depends on its rate of new cases, the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive, and whether hospitalizations are increasing, stable or declining.

Although the county’s incidence rates are actually high enough to place them in “Safer Level 3,” the state decided that “a gradual implementation of restrictions is suitable at this time,” according to a letter from the state to the county.

Douglas County has been out of compliance with the "Safer Level 1" restrictions since at least Sept. 18, when the county’s incidence rate first went higher than 75 cases per 100,000 people, which is one of the thresholds required to remain at level 1, according to the county’s most recent mitigation plan. To stay at that level, counties are also required to have a testing positivity rate of less than 5% and stable or declining hospitalizations.

The county has submitted two mitigation plans to the state in the past month, both aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 within the community. The state first requested a mitigation plan in an Oct. 2 meeting with the county. On Oct. 19, the state notified the county that if incidence rates did not significantly decrease, the county would be moved to a more restrictive level. 

As of Oct. 30, the county’s two-week incidence rate was 233 cases per 100,000 people and the positivity rate was 6.4%, according to Tri-County Health Department's data. Hospitalizations are also on the rise, according to the agency's data.

In order to move back to “Safer Level 1,” the county must reduce cases and hospitalizations enough to be in line with those requirements and then maintain them for at least two weeks.

Douglas County has requested that the state begin taking a new "severity metric" into account when deciding which level on the dial county's sit in the future. The proposed metric looks at both incidence rates and hospitalization rates.

"Our board’s focus is on the health of our citizens and our economy, paired with a renewed request to state decision-makers that they also consider actual severity (hospitalizations and deaths)," according to a statement from the board of commissioners. "Douglas County will continue to partner with Tri-County Health Department and like-minded local, regional and statewide leadership for this science-driven severity metric, while also advocating aggressively for the behaviors that reduce COVID-19 transmission."

More details on each level of restrictions are available at


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