A decline in COVID-19 cases means Mesa County is transitioning to the next level down on the color dial.

Effective today (February 17) Mesa County is moving to the yellow level on the dial.  That means the county goes from "High Risk" to "Concern". We aren't out of the woods, by any means, and we still need to mask up and maintain social distance. However, it's moving the dial in the right direction.

According to Mesa County Public Health, here's a look at what level yellow means in Mesa County.

Most industries are allowed 50% capacity with social distancing measures in place.
Personal gatherings remain a high-risk activity and remain limited to up to 10 people from no more than 10 households. While private and personal gatherings have accounted for just 9% of recent COVID cases in Mesa County, transmission from a family member is the largest source of exposure with 63% of recent cases being attributed to contact with a family member.

One of the biggest differences between level yellow and level red is capacity limits for many things such as restaurants, personal services, and entertainment events move from 25% to 50% capacity, though specific number limits remain in place, regardless of capacity.

In order to get to level yellow, Mesa County has had to meet three threshold metrics.

* Between 100 and 300 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in one week.
* Rates of positive tests at no more than 7.5%.
* Stable or declining hospitalizations.

In January, the state revised the dial system, moving to one-week measures and changing the metrics to qualify for each level. Capacity limits don't necessarily change from level to level.

On Tuesday, we had an additional 37 positive cases in Mesa County bringing the two-week total to 681. The numbers are definitely going down, but the virus is still out there.

It's been six weeks since Mesa County was able to move from Severe Risk: Red to High Risk: Orange- and so, obviously, we are moving in the right direction. In some ways, it still feels very restrictive, but we have to realize these changes mean we are gradually getting to a better place. With the vaccination process in full swing in Mesa County, the expectation is that we will continue to make progress toward a return to normal one step at a time.

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LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.