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The Teton County Health Department lowered the COVID-19 community danger level to red, or high-risk, on Thursday.

That is an improvement from the purple, or critical, risk level put in place when the county surged to record high cases in January.

“I’m relieved several of our metrics have been improving in recent days, but it’s important to remember COVID transmission in our community remains quite high,” epidemiologist Shane Yu said in a health department news release.

Teton County remains the hardest-hit in Wyoming. Despite being the ninth most populous, Teton County leads the state in active infections with 193 lab-confirmed and probable cases reported Thursday by the Wyoming Department of Health. Of those cases, 38 new lab-confirmed infections were reported in the past 24 hours.

Overall, the county saw 384 new active cases in the two-week period from Jan. 19 to Feb. 1, a 29% decrease from the previous fortnight, which had 540 new active cases, the county news release said. The test positivity rate and number of hospitalizations have also decreased.

To accompany the lowered risk level, Teton District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell rescinded one of his variances to state health orders. Bars and restaurants are no longer required to close at 10 p.m.

He also rescinded his recommendation that people gather only with people in their households.

However, a variance to state order No. 2 that limits indoor gatherings to 10 people, with some exceptions, remains in place.

At the last community update, Riddell said the recommendation would remain in effect until the county came out of the purple, critical-risk level, and he said the recommendation would likely go back in place should the risk level rise back to critical.

The drop to the red, high-risk level, according to the Teton County Health Department press release, doesn’t mean conditions are not still dangerous.

With the county at high risk from the pandemic, the Health Department recommends that people follow a strict set of preventative measures. Those include avoiding large gatherings or indoor spaces, limiting time spent with people from outside your household and wearing masks.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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