Coronavirus in Colorado – Latest News

As coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, spreads in Colorado, KGNU is committed to keeping you informed about the virus and connected to local resources.

According to the CDPHE, 70,025 positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Colorado with 2,046 deaths among cases (1,952 due to COVID-19)


De acuerdo al CDPHE, se han reportado 70,025 casos positivos de COVID-19 en Colorado con 2,046 muertes entre los casos (1,952 a causa de COVID-19)

*The CDPHE has changed the way it reports deaths from COVID-19. The state now includes a tally of total deaths among people who had COVID-19, but the disease was not listed as the cause of death on the death certificate. That is the higher number. The lower number reflects people who had COVID-19 listed as the cause of the death.

*El CDPHE ha cambiado la forma en que informa de las muertes por COVID-19. El estado ahora incluye un recuento de muertes totales entre las personas que tenían COVID-19, pero la enfermedad no figuraba como causa de la muerte en el certificado de defunción. Ese es un número mayor. El número menor refleja a personas que tenían COVID-19 como causa de la muerte.

Latest Colorado COVID-19 News:

The Boulder County Health Department on Monday, Sept. 28th, revised its public health order that banned gatherings of people aged 18 to 22.

The amended order says two people in that age group can gather together but gatherings of more than two 18 to 22 year olds are still prohibited except for certain work or service-related activities.

The original order was issued in response to coronavirus outbreaks among University of Colorado students, especially at certain off-campus residences, including several fraternity and sorority houses.

The revised order also clarifies the Stay-At-Home rules for students living in those properties.

Drug overdoses have increased in Colorado. According to state health department data, 130 people died by overdose in May, 2020. That compares to less than 60 overdose deaths in May of each of the previous three years.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that mental health and substance abuse professionals attribute the rise in deaths to the pandemic. Increased stress and decreased resources for treatment have made drug users more vulnerable to overdose.

As of Friday, Sept. 25th, Denver officials have also announced new public health orders targeting the city’s college campuses.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said that a recent spike in coronavirus cases in the city is connected to students.

As part of that health order, additional health screens will be required for students, staff and visitors, and only dorm residents will be able to enter residence halls. Restrictions are also being placed on fraternities’ and sororities’ activities.

In response to a spike in new cases of COVID-19 tied to CU Boulder, Boulder County Public Health has issued a new Public Health Order targeting 18-22 year olds.

The Order includes two key provisions: Anyone aged 18 to 22 years old anywhere in the City of Boulder may not participate in any gatherings of any size, whether indoors, outdoors, on or off campus, or with individuals of any age.

36 addresses have been identified in the public health order as being hotspots for coronavirus, including fraternity and sorority houses.

Residents of those addresses who have repeatedly engaged in activities that violate public health orders or who live in congregate living situations must stay at their residence at all times.

The Order prohibits all indoor and outdoor gatherings involving or among 18-22-year-old individuals within the City of Boulder, regardless of where they live or whether they are currently enrolled at CU. Young adults this age are permitted to participate in exercise outside if they are alone, study outside alone, and go to work if they don’t live in a residence with stay-at-home requirements. Young adults this age are permitted to interact with members of their household, and those in high school are permitted to participate in school activities.

There’s been a recent surge in coronavirus cases in Colorado and it isn’t limited to college students.

That was the message Tuesday, Sept. 22nd, from the state’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Rachel Herlihy. She pointed to an increase of 54 percent in cases last week compared to the previous week.

The Colorado Sun reports the jump was especially pronounced among 18 to 25-year-olds, which Herlilhy said is to be expected given the worsening outbreak of COVID-19 at the University of Colorado Boulder and on other campuses.

But she added it’s very concerning that even among other age groups they’re again seeing rapid acceleration.

Among 18 to 25-year-olds, cases rose by 74% last week and for the rest of the population, the increase was 45%.

Tuesday, Governor Jared Polis said that it doesn’t appear the outbreak at CU Boulder has spread beyond the campus into the community. But he and other health officials are worried that could happen.

So far, hospitalizations have not risen alongside the increase in cases, but they are often a lagging indicator of coronavirus’ spread, meaning the numbers could begin to rise in the next week or so.

Boulder County reported 210 new positive or probable coronavirus cases Tuesday, and CU Boulder reported 94 new cases.

The Daily Camera reports that both entities are working to ramp up testing in order to contain the spread of the disease.

CU Boulder said that the campus would begin offering weekly coronavirus monitoring to approximately 900 employees — mainly front-line workers who are in close contact with students, employees or visitors.
Students living in residence halls are required to take weekly monitoring tests.

Boulder County Public Health began breaking down cases by people affiliated with CU. The latest update showed that since Aug. 24 almost 80 percent of all cases in the county are connected with the university. That data will be updated on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Despite the recent surge in cases, the Boulder Valley School District is moving forward with plans to bring Kindergartners through 2nd grade students back to school campuses next week (Oct. 1st).

The Daily Camera reports that public health officials told the school board yesterday that they’re comfortable with the district’s plans, because the CU Boulder outbreak hasn’t spread outside the university community so far.

They added that area private schools with in-person classes have seen few cases with those mainly among staff members. Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach said that there has not been a spike in cases for school-age children.

A working group of school district administrators, teachers and parents is also recommending the district bring students in grades 3 to 5 back for in-person classes four days a week, while middle and high school students attend in person one day a week. At the secondary level, it’s expected class sizes will be limited to about eight students per classroom.

Denver Public Schools are continuing their plans to phase in reopening next week. The Denver Post reports that Superintendent Susana Cordova said that she has been closely watching three indicators, one of which includes the number of cases, and another is the two week trend – both are currently in the red zone. All three were in the green zone about three weeks ago.

However, Cordova said experts at Denver Health and the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment told DPS the upticks in those metrics are not cause for concern because they are limited to college communities.

On Sunday, Sept. 20th,  Boulder County reported 224 new coronavirus cases, but no new deaths.

The Daily Camera reports that health officials have attributed much of the recent surge to CU Boulder.

The University didn’t update its coronavirus dashboard Sunday, but it has recorded 454 cases from Wednesday to Saturday.

Students living in Darley North residence hall were told to move out to make way for additional campus quarantine space.

Students in the St. Vrain Valley School District may return to some form of in-person learning in October. The Times Call reports that at last night’s SVVSD Board of Directors meeting, Superintendent Don Haddad said any return to in-person instruction must be supported by health data.

A decision is expected to be announced at a virtual community meeting that will include Boulder County Health officials. The meeting is scheduled for September 21, 6-7pm.

High school sports won’t go forward this fall despite Governor Polis saying yesterday that the state was willing to bring football back this autumn.

The Denver Post reports that the Colorado High School Activities Association Board of Directors voted Tuesday night not to reconsider changes to the athletic calendar that moved football and other sports to the spring.

The CHSAA had been under pressure to change their position ahead of last night’s vote. A Change.org petition to “Let Them Play” has more than 13,800 signatures as of this afternoon.

Organizers of the petition say football aids in keeping kids in school, teaches them life lessons and teamwork. The petition language says that “many of our upperclassman athletes are dependent upon this season for scholarships, competing with other athletes across the country.”

In a statement last night the CHSAA board of directors listed several reasons for not changing its plans including student safety and well-being and potential Title IX issues.

Tuesday, September 8th, Boulder City Council members discussed the proposed 2021 budget with city staff to begin the process of approving a budget devastated by the economic impacts of the virus.

The Daily Camera reports that the council study session focused on a budget almost 8 percent lower from the 2020 budget.

City staffers estimate a more than 10 percent drop in sales and use tax revenue. The proposed budget includes cuts to programs, services and jobs, along with furloughs and no merit increases for most employees.

Members of the Boulder Police Officer’s Association will be the only employees to get a raise, as their contract with the city stipulates an increase.

Overall, the proposed budget for Boulder would eliminate more than 50 positions, most of which are vacant.

Governor Jared Polis is advising Coloradans to avoid large gatherings over the Labor Day weekend and to continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Speaking earlier today Governor Polis called out some students at CU Boulder whose fraternities were fined earlier this week for hosting parties in violation of public health orders in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“I know the vast majority of students and the vast majority of the Greek system are doing the right thing,” he said, adding that it only takes a few bad apples and a few bad decisions to set the community back.

The University of Colorado in Boulder is asking students in 4 dorms to get tested for the coronavirus after wastewater testing uncovered possible COVID-19 presence.

An email sent yesterday to the campus community said that as a precaution students and staff in those halls are now being asked to get tested.

The email also said the college will work with public health partners to make decisions about isolation or quarantine as necessary.

CU also says they are aware of two coronavirus cases in a sorority house and one case in a fraternity house.

Yesterday’s announcement comes just days after several fraternities were fined for hosting parties, in violation of public health orders.

Denver Arts & Venues officials have announced that the agency will furlough its employees and close some of the city’s most recognizable venues through the end of this year.

This is despite the agency’s efforts to reduce spending in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ginger White, executive director of Arts & Venues, said in a letter this week that the agency is preserving its resources now in the hopes that when they can reemerge, they will have money in the bank.

The agency manages several venues for the city including Red Rocks. The arts industry has been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with venues shuttered and no clear indication when they may reopen.

The Boulder County Public Health Director says with fall approaching, he doesn’t expect the local area to move out of what’s called the “Safer At Home” phase of the coronavirus pandemic any time soon. Jeff Zayach told Boulder City Council last night the county must meet nine metrics to move to the “Protect Our Neighbors” phase of COVID-19, and right now the county is only meeting five of them. Zayach was asked if contact-tracing has turned-up mostly indoor spread of the virus, outdoor spread, or both.

“They’re almost exclusively indoors at this point.  The only one I am aware of that was outdoors was associated with a yoga class where they were within six feet of each other when they were doing the yoga class.  But clearly, indoors the build up of the virus can be spread more easily, but outdoors it dissipates pretty quickly,” said Zayach.

He said mask-wearing is at 90 percent in the county and 96 percent in Boulder, and social distancing is around 70 percent. The University reported that since Aug. 17 when classes got underway on the CU campus, 31 individuals have tested positive for the virus.

The office of Colorado Governor Jared Polis is scrutinizing an order from the Trump administration to determine if “it will really help Coloradans or is just empty words.”

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a directive halting the eviction of certain renters through the end of 2020 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Denver Post reports that the agency declared that no landlord shall evict any “covered person” from any residential property for failure to pay rent.  A covered person would include and individual with income of $99,000 dollars or less, or a couple with income twice that amount.

Colorado officials and housing advocates were blindsided by the announcement and were scrambling yesterday afternoon to read it and understand how Colorado might implement it.

As of late yesterday afternoon, no state official was able to confirm that evictions will be halted in Colorado.

Unlike many other states, Colorado is no longer under an eviction moratorium after the Governor let his previous order lapse in June, and evictions in the state have restarted.

The state of Colorado is spending $2 million to provide internet access to students who are learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Associated Press reports that school districts will be able to apply for grants to pay for hotspots to provide internet access to households, as well as things like mobile hotspot trucks that may work better in rural areas.

The money comes from federal pandemic relief grants and aims to close the digital divide in both rural and urban parts of the state as the pandemic has forced many to rely on online learning.

According to the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Education Initiative, more than 65,000 students in Colorado lack internet access.

Governor Jared Polis was joined by local elected officials in making the announcement earlier today.

“The question before us is how we can make sure that every child has access to high quality broadband, especially during the pandemic,” Polis said.

As part of the state’s strategy, T-Mobile will provide free mobile hotspots and up to 100 gigabytes of broadband data to 34,000 low-income families.

The Colorado Sun says this is part of a re-negotiated deal with the Colorado Attorney General’s office originally made last year to allow T-Mobile’s multi-billion dollar merger with Sprint.

In addition, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said at today’s press conference that he has joined 38 other attorneys general in calling on Congress to provide continual funding that would support a “lifeline service” of internet access. Weiser and the other AGs wrote to the Federal Communications Commission asking that the agency support access to broadband in schools and in homes where children are studying remotely.

Weiser said they want the FCC to act now to give states the ability to access broadband that they need.

Five fraternities at CU Boulder are being fined almost $11,000 between them after hosting parties and gatherings that violated public health orders in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Last week the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity was the first one fined and this week four more fraternities are facing sanctions.

An email from the president of Boulder’s Interfraternity Council on the Hill that was sent to all 22 member chapters said “The behavior of your fraternities over the last two weeks has been nothing short of outrageous.”

Colorado College, a private school in Colorado Springs, is switching to remote learning after three dorms were quarantined following a handful of positive COVID-19 cases.

The Denver Post reports that the college is also asking on-campus students to leave.

According to a letter today from the acting co-presidents of the college to the campus community, El Paso County Public Health Department has required the college to quarantine entire residence halls and to expect rolling waves of large quarantines going forward.

As a result, the letter continues, the college can’t offer a quality residential experience to students.

The college has about 2,300 students and is the first higher ed institution in the state to switch to all online learning after starting with some in-person instruction.

A fraternity at CU Boulder will be fined for a gathering that broke public health protocols that are in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The Denver Post reports that The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity threw a party that drew 120 students to the organization’s house on University Hill on Wednesday.

The Interfraternity Council on the Hill will fine Sigma Alpha Epsilon $10 per member, or about $1,750, for this first infraction.

This comes as the University of Colorado in Boulder completed its first week of classes with some students taking in-person classes and others online.

The University says it has many protocols in place in the face of COVID-19 and has said there will be consequences for students who violate the protocols.

A memo issued by the vice chancellor of student affairs on Thursday said students who are caught at any gathering that does not follow these rules face a two-week banishment from campus during which time they may only participate in classes remotely; placement on probation which affects a student’s ability to study abroad or attend graduate school; and required participation in educational sanctions.

Repeated or egregious violations will result in a suspension from school, according to the memo.

A Republican state lawmaker is filing a lawsuit against Governor Jared Polis over the state’s mask mandate.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville from Douglas County and conservative activist Michelle Malkin are behind the suit that says Governor Polis’ order violates the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.

The mask mandate went into effect in July as part of the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act. On Tuesday, August 25th, Governor Polis stated that “We are free to be on the side of a deadly virus that has taken the lives of too many friends, parents, and loved ones, or on the side of Coloradans. I’m on the side of Coloradans.”

Students returned to CU Boulder this morning for the first day of classes. The university says they’re confident that the measures they’ve put in place regarding the coronavirus.

The university will offer a combination of in-person and online learning and has been working closely with the Boulder County Health Department.

Everyone on campus is required to wear a mask both indoors and outdoors. Classrooms have been configured to allow for social distancing to minimize the spread of infection in a classroom setting.

As of Sunday CU had done 2,400 coronavirus tests and confirmed 16 positive cases. CU’s Chief Operating Officer Pat O’Rourke says that those cases were expected.

“It’s not a question of there’s going to be cases it’s a question of how well we can respond to them,” he said.

Students at CU who were participating in remote learning classes through zoom experienced technical issues this morning with the company reporting widespread outages.

The company said that it began receiving reports of disruptions around 7 a.m. MT. It has identified the issue causing the problem and is working on a fix. For more in-depth KGNU, coverage of
CU student’s return to campus during the pandemic visit here.

On Friday, August 21st, Governor Jared Polis extended the “last call” executive order which mandates when restaurants, breweries and bars in the state must stop serving alcohol.

The executive order, part of an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, was set to expire this weekend and has now been extended for 30 days and amended to allow an extra hour.  Starting tomorrow evening, the last call will be11 p.m.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said that the decision on the last call orders is based on data on the transmission of the virus and they’ve been able to see that it’s made a difference.

“Most specifically we’ve seen a substantial decrease in the number of cases occurring among 20-29 year olds,” she said. Dr. Herlihy says that is the age group that is spending more time in bars later in the evening so closing bars earlier is slowing down transmission.

Students in Denver Public Schools will be starting online learning next week, August 24th – 28th, but there are not enough computers for everyone who needs one.

Chalkbeat Colorado reports that as many as 3,000 students may start the school year without a device.

The district is asking that families who already have a personal computer or tablet at home not request one from the school. The district is also sharing information about where and how families can purchase a device of their own. DPS has spent approximately half a million dollars in helping families get internet access.

Classes will be online until at least mid-October.

 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has published new data on hospitalizations as a result of COVID-19 that shows the disproportionate impact of the virus on communities of color.

The CDPHE says that from March 1 through August 15 Black and Latino people have been hospitalized at disproportionately high rates. Latinos have accounted for nearly 38% of all hospitalized patients; although they represent about 22% of Colorado’s overall population.

At one point in May, more than 50% of the patients in hospitals were Latino.  Nearly 10% of hospitalized patients in Colorado were Black; although Black people make up only 4.6% of Colorado’s overall population.

White people were disproportionately less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19, accounting for 41% of hospitalized patients despite representing nearly 68% of Colorado’s population.

As of Thursday, August 20th, several new outbreaks of the coronavirus have been reported at multiple sites around the state including restaurants, grocery stores, a church, a hotel and a rural fair.

According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the largest new outbreak reported this week was at Fountain Faith Fellowship in El Paso County, where nine attendees have tested positive for COVID-19, in addition to one staff member.

The state has seen six coronavirus outbreaks at religious facilities.

The executive order that meant bars must stop serving alcohol at 10pm expires this weekend. Governor Polis has not indicated whether he will let the “last call” order expire or whether he will extend it.

People who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will get a little relief as the state has been approved to receive federal money to pay an extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Colorado for payments through the new Lost Wages Assistance program.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said today that the initial approval, however, only covers the three-week period from July 26 through August 15.

The application window is now open and will close on September 10.

Claimants do not have to take any action to receive the additional benefit amount as they will be added automatically for those receiving at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefit payments.

Six cases of COVID-19 have been detected by the University of Colorado Boulder since students started returning to campus for the fall semester.

The six cases were from nearly 600 tests conducted between Aug. 11 and August 17th.

The Denver Post reports that students moving into on-campus housing need to provide university officials with a negative COVID-19 test within the past five days or test negative upon arrival through a rapid-result test.

A CU Boulder spokesperson said that, if a student were to test positive after moving into a residence hall, there would be an investigation completed through the campus contact-tracing program in coordination with Boulder County Public Health.

Some students in the Front Range are returning to in-person classes this week.

On Monday, August 17th, students in the Cherry Creek and Douglas County school districts went back to the classrooms.

The Denver Post reports that in Cherry Creek, each elementary grade is getting its own dedicated day for in-person teaching this week before everyone is back in school next week.

Westminster Public Schools will welcome the majority of its student body into the schools on Thursday, August, 20th. Mapleton Public Schools in Adams County is reopening with in-person classes later this month.

Students in the St. Vrain Valley School District will start online classes today, August 18th, after the school district recently changed its plans for a staggered in-person schedule. Online classes will go through at least the end of September when the district says they’ll reevaluate plans in accordance to public health recommendations.

Students are moving back to the University of Colorado Boulder campus this week ahead of classes which start next Monday, August 24th .

Students living in the CU dorms this fall will be required to take a COVID-19 test within five days prior to moving in, or take one of a limited number of tests available on campus upon arrival.

Boulder County Public Health has said they expect to see an increase in positive cases at the start of the semester due to additional testing in general, as well as the testing of people from communities that may be experiencing outbreaks.

CU will have a mixture of in person and online classes this semester. All students, staff and faculty are required to wear a face covering in public places and Students, faculty and staff are required to complete a daily health form to monitor symptoms before coming to campus.

Along the Front Range officials are looking for the coronavirus by sampling human feces as it passes through wastewater systems.

The Denver Post reports that 16 wastewater utilities are partnering with two universities and the state health department to search for signs of new COVID-19 cases before infected people have symptoms.

John Putnam, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said on a press call yesterday that sampling wastewater provides an early warning at the population level, because most people start shedding the virus in their feces about two days after being infected, and before they have symptoms.

The testing does not identify a particular household or neighborhood where the infection has occurred but provides a signal of whether cases are increasing or decreasing.

After wastewater is sampled, health officials will use the data along with other tests like nasal swabs to get a sense of where more resources are needed.

Meanwhile, Governor Jared Polis’s staff confirmed yesterday that he plans to extend the statewide mask mandate which is set to expire this weekend.

In a statement provided to the Denver Post Polis said mask wearing has reduced the spread of the virus and is helping more and more of the economy to reopen rapidly including schools.

A resolution to provide a tuition rebate to students at the University of Colorado, lost by one vote at a CU Regents’ meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 12th.

The Denver Post reports that the proposal to give a rebate of $1000 per semester to full-time students, and $500 per semester to part-time students, was rejected by five regents, the president of CU and campus chancellors.

CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, a Republican, had proposed the resolution, saying she recognized that students and families were hurting right now.
CU’s chief financial officer said the resolution would have cost CU about $130 million for the academic year.

CU President Mark Kennedy said the resolution would cause upwards of 850 additional staff and faculty to be terminated in addition to furloughs.

The university is facing huge budget shortfalls for the upcoming year. In May, CU regents voted not to raise tuition for the upcoming year. Some university employees have seen pay cuts, others have been laid off, and some furloughs were instated.

A free COVID-19 testing site opened in Aurora today, Aug. 10th. The Denver Post reports that the drive-up testing site at the Aurora Sports Park will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Testing is free to anyone, with or without symptoms and people aren’t required to show identification or insurance coverage.

Two other testing sites are opening this week in the metro area.

One is in the parking lot at Water World and Governor Polis said that a third site will open in the coming days further south in Denver.

The drive –in testing site at the Pepsi Center, the largest site in the state, remains open even though funding for the facility was only guaranteed through the end of July.

A spokesperson for the city told the Denverite that the city has partnered with the state to figure out the future of the Pepsi Center site, with details still being worked out. The site will remain open in the meantime.

Last week, Aug. 3rd, jury trials resumed in Boulder County for the first time since the courts shut down in March because of the coronavirus.

But the Daily Camera reports some attorneys are still not convinced it is safe to return to courtrooms in the midst of the pandemic.

There were two trials one a criminal case and the other a dependency and neglect juvenile case.

Boulder District Judge Andrew Hartman, who presided over the juvenile case said things went extremely well and that they are cautiously optimistic.

However, Nicole Collins, the managing Boulder public defender, said that she doesn’t think it’s responsible as a community to be pushing forward with jury trials–the risk hasn’t changed. Instead, she said, people are getting fatigued by living in this environment.

Potential jurors with COVID-19 symptoms, those who have been in contact with someone who tested positive within two weeks or those who have traveled within the past two weeks are also asked not to report for jury duty.

Those who do are required to wear masks at all times while inside except when drinking water or when asked to show their face for identification purposes.

More than 37 percent of Coloradans currently are struggling to afford food, compared with 11 percent during the Great Recession, and nutrition advocates are calling on Congress to extend food assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. Ellie Agar with Hunger Free Colorado says families and people of color have taken the biggest hit from the health emergency’s economic fallout.

“Statewide we’ve seen about 20% of families are having to skip or cut back on meals. And even harder hit are Black and Hispanic and indigenous households. Some of those rates are more than double what we’re seeing across the state,” she said.

Four in ten Colorado parents say they’ve had to skip meals because there wasn’t enough money for food, according to a new survey conducted by Kupersmit Research. Nearly a quarter of parents reported that they also had to cut back on their children’s meals. Early aid packages passed by Congress temporarily increased SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, for some families. But Agar says those benefits could expire unless Congress acts.

Housing rights activists protested in front of the entrance to the Webb Municipal Building in Denver Thursday, August 6th, demanding an end to evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Denver Post reports that about 25 activists linked arms to form a human chain before a large group of law enforcement, including two officers on horseback and about 20 officers in SWAT gear, arrived to break up the crowd.

The activists chose the Web Municipal Building as that is where landlords file eviction notices with the city.

Housing rights groups have been calling for more protections for people facing economic hardship during the pandemic.

Gov. Jared Polis approved a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures but he allowed that to expire June 14 with a provision that landlords give tenants 30 days notice rather than the usual 10-day warning before asking a judge to evict them.

Denver was one of the first cities in the state to stop evictions when on March 14 city leaders ordered deputies to stop removals. On July 1 Denver Public Safety Director Murphy Robinson signed an order to allow law enforcement in Denver to resume evictions.

According to the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project more than 29 million Americans in 13 million households could be at risk of eviction by the end of the year if conditions do not change.

 

The St. Vrain Valley School District and Boulder Valley School District announced, Aug. 4th, they will now have fully online classes for the start of the school year for all students until at least the end of September when they will reevaluate.

In an email to parents today the school districts said they changed their re-opening plans after receiving additional information from Boulder County Public Health.

Boulder County Public Health says there has been a sustained upward trend in cases since around July 1.

For the St. Vrain Valley School District, first through 12th-grade students will start school online on August 18 and kindergarten students start August 20.

The St. Vrain had previously planned for a hybrid learning model for the start of the year with students having in-person instruction every other day.

The Daily Camera reports that a St. Vrain school district staff member who worked in an in-person summer class for ninth-graders at Thunder Valley K-8 in Frederick developed symptoms of COVID-19. The employee is being tested, according to a letter sent to families and staff.

On Monday, August 3rd, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment says they issued 13 citations for violations of the state’s “safer-at-home” order over the weekend, bringing the total number of citations from DDPHE to 50.

9News reports that on Saturday Your Mom’s House, a music venue on E. 13th Ave. was ticketed, placarded and closed for violation of the public health order and the state’s face-covering order. On Sunday, the Welcome Inn on Chestnut Pl., was also ticketed, placarded and closed for violations of the public health order and face covering order.

Several other businesses were given citations for employees not wearing face coverings. On Friday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said there would be more enforcement of the public health orders. Hancock said that cases are plateauing in the city, but more work needs to be done to make sure case numbers steadily decline.

The statewide mandatory mask order requires all people in Colorado over ten years old to wear a face-covering over their noses and mouths when entering or moving within any public indoor space. Denver’s mandate requires face coverings for all individuals three years of age or older with some specific exemptions.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock warned  Friday, July 31st, that he will roll back reopenings if the numbers of coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Denver has a 7-day average of 89.7 new COVID-19 cases daily, up from 72.3, the average on July 17.

Mayor Hancock said that the city will more aggressively enforce mask mandates, distancing and capacity requirements.

Rachel Herlihy of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment told reporters Friday, July 31st, they’re seeing hospitalizations, positivity rates, and case counts plateau. She attributes increased social distancing and public health orders like the statewide mask requirement.

Herlihy said the trend was reassuring, but also expressed the need for cautious optimism.

Colorado has counted more than 46 thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 1,800 deaths attributed to the disease. Hospitalizations and case rates fell from their peak in April to a low sometime around late June or early July, when they started to go back up. As of Thursday afternoon, the state was reporting 239 hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

On Thursday, July 30th, Governor Jared Polis said he was confident that it is reasonably safe to reopen schools in the coming weeks.

“I think all the work that Coloradans have put in to keep our viral transmission rate low is why it’s safer to open schools in Colorado,” he said.

The governor’s comments came as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released guidelines for school districts.

The guidance provides specific steps a school should take in response to cases and outbreaks and outlines when classrooms, cohorts, and schools should close.

The health department says that a classroom or cohort should be closed for 14 days when there is a single student, teacher or other staff member with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, and an entire school should close for 14 days when there are five or more classroom outbreaks or five percent of unrelated people have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

CDPHE identifies an outbreak as when two or more unrelated people in a single classroom or cohort have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Thursday, July 30th, a judge upheld Governor Jared Polis’ last call rule and capacity limits for bars and restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently imposed a 10pm last call, as well limits on the number of people who can avail of in-person dining.

On July 21, the Tavern League of Colorado, a trade association representing more than 200 businesses around the state, filed a lawsuit against the State of Colorado and the Department of Public Health and Environment. The suit was seeking a restraining order to cease enforcement of specific capacity limits.

The current restrictions require bars and restaurants to limit customers to 50 percent of the business’s capacity or a maximum of fifty guests, whichever number is smaller. Larger businesses (with more than one room) are allowed up to 100 guests.

The lawsuit said that the capacity limitations were imposed without thought to the viability of the establishments they affect, and described them as a death knell for many of the Tavern League’s members.

In today’s ruling, Judge Brian Whitney said he was sympathetic to the plight of restaurant and bar owners but added that the state had a rational basis for imposing the measures.

Denver Public schools announced Wednesday, July 29th, it will delay in-person teaching until at least mid-October for most students.

The Denver Post reports that most of the district’s 93,000 students will take classes virtually through at least Oct. 16.

DPS had previously committed to full-time in-person instruction.

As Congress is debating the next federal aid package due to the surge of COVID-19 infections, Colorado Governor Jared Polis laid out his key demands for the new legislation.

Tuesday, July 28th, the governor urged Congress to deliver uninterrupted benefits for the growing ranks of people without jobs. He also wants cash support for virus testing and contact tracing along with billions of dollars to backfill long-term losses in state and local government budgets.

The Associated Press reports the governor warned of dire consequences to the economic welfare of millions of Coloradans and to the state’s ability to contain the pandemic in a letter sent to the state’s congressional delegation.

In reaction to a rodeo event in Weld County over the weekend where masks and social distancing were not required, Governor Polis said people who attend large gatherings put themselves and their families at risk comparing it to drunk driving. He called on Coloradoans not to be stupid.

Colorado Politics reports that the governor also responded to efforts by state Republican lawmakers who are calling for a special session on education. The GOP proposal suggests diverting public education dollars to parents so they could work from home and conduct in-home learning.

The governor said a special session is not an option – in part because Republicans never discussed the plan with the majority Democratic Party.

Health officials are conducting random testing at homes in Denver for COVID-19 antibodies. The effort is a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Colorado and Denver Departments of Public Health and Environment.

9News reports that people who choose to participate will be asked to answer survey questions and provide a blood sample to test for the virus.

Testing teams will be identifiable by their CDC vests and badges, and will never ask for social security numbers, financial information or citizenship status.

Some Colorado lawmakers are calling for a special legislative session to deal with education as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Denver Post reports that nearly all Republican members of the state house and state senate signed a letter that was delivered Tuesday morning (7/28) to Gov. Jared Polis.

The letter asks the governor to approve a special session so that lawmakers can develop “innovative policies that ensure every child has access to a high quality education, regardless of their unique health circumstances, age or income level.”

The lawmakers cite ongoing challenges parents and schools are facing about the various models for education in the fall semester.

One of the proposals lawmakers called for in the letter is to redirect all or a portion of the per-pupil funding that school districts receive to families whose children may not be able to attend school in-person full time.

Denver City Council on Monday, July 27th, voted to waive interest payments on late property taxes due to the pandemic.

The Denverite reports that last night’s vote comes after a state law was passed that lets cities and towns waive those interest payments.

Homeowners who pay their property taxes late normally must pay interest for each month they’re past due.

Property taxes were due July 1 and late fees would normally be accruing, however, the interest payments are waived until at least October 1 and can be extended with another vote.

The St. Vrain Valley School District announced it will have a mix of in-person and online learning for all students when school starts on Aug. 18.

The Daily Camera reports that Superintendent Don Haddad presented the hybrid learning model to the Board of Education on Wednesday and will email families, teachers and staff with further details of the plan today.

Some of those details include mandatory mask-wearing, stringent cleaning and social distancing measures.

As the St. Vrain Valley district and others across the state plan for the start of the school year, the model of the spread of the coronavirus developed by the Colorado School of Public Health does not include schools in its assumptions. Nevertheless, that model is relied upon by the state.

Chalkbeat reports that other countries that opened schools did not do so when cases were rising. Current projections show that intensive care units in Colorado hospitals will reach capacity by some time in September. In an effort to change that trajectory, Gov. Jared Polis has closed bars and issued a statewide mask mandate.

A member of the modeling team at the school of public health said that they expect the contact rate to increase for certain populations if schools reopen, but they have not modeled that directly. She added that there are open questions about well kids transmit infections.

The Colorado health department has warned 15 counties in the state that they will have to reverse parts of their reopening if they are unable to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

The counties at risk of losing their variances include, among others, Denver, Arapahoe, Douglas, Adams, El Paso, Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield – but not Boulder.

The Denver Post reports that notices were sent to the 15 counties last week. Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the head of the agency, said that eight of counties have decided to drop their variances and operate under what’s called the “Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors” phase. State officials have not identified those eight.

At a news conference Ryan said the state’s economic stability is at stake, and if the spread of the disease can be controlled on a county level, it reduces the need for statewide disruption.

The warnings come as COVID-19 cases have increased in Colorado for five consecutive weeks and have reached levels not seen since April. Hospitalizations also have risen recently.

Governor Jared Polis entered an order yesterday, that the last call for alcohol at statewide establishments will be 10 p.m. for at least 30 days. Polis expressed his frustration with young people getting drunk in social settings and increasing the spread of the coronavirus.

Some establishment owners are not happy with the current restrictions. A group of more than 200 restaurants and bars sued the state yesterday arguing against capacity limits. The Denver Post reports that Colorado restaurants are currently allowed to serve at half capacity or up to 50 people whichever is fewer. A spokesperson for the group said they would now also try to stop the governor’s order prohibiting alcohol from being served after 10 p.m.

Boulder Valley School District students will return to classrooms in a limited capacity in August, as long as coronavirus cases don’t get worse and there are enough teachers able to teach in person.

The Daily Camera reports that Superintendent Rob Anderson presented a tentative plan to the Board yesterday outlining a return to school the week of August 24. The plan includes a mix of online and in-person learning and mandatory mask-wearing for all students and employees.

The district was set to return to school on Aug. 17, but, according to Anderson, an additional week will allow time for more preparation and planning.

The plan, which is dubbed Phase 3, includes students attending school in person two days a week and doing remote learning two days a week. There will not be any student instruction on Monday, while teachers work on planning, and schools will be deep cleaned.

Kindergarten through 12th grade students will be separated into two groups with one group attending school in person on Tuesday and Wednesday and the other group on Thursday and Friday.

Colorado teachers may refuse to report for work unless their criteria for reopening schools are met.

Amie Baca-Oehlert, the head of the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, told a news conference yesterday that union members want more of a say in how school districts implement safety protocols such as mask-wearing, restricting movement among public school students and restricting class sizes.

The Associated Press reports that the union leader presented a survey of nearly 10,000 members showing nearly eight in 10 teachers would be willing to join their colleagues in refusing to return to work, if their conditions aren’t met.

The survey also found that more than 50% prefer remote-only teaching and only 8% prefer in-person-only instruction.

Staggered schedules, face coverings, limited contact among students and the option of remote learning are just a few of the changes Colorado health and education officials recommended Monday, July 20th, as public school districts across the state prepare for the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Colorado’s Commissioner of Education Katy Anthes said during a virtual news conference Monday that the State Board of Education had met with health officials to create the guidelines, many of which are backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At the same time, the Jeffco teachers union said Monday it is asking the school district to reverse its decision to start classes next month with students in school buildings full time. The educators want the start of school to be online or be postponed until broader conditions improve. Last week, the Denver school district canceled its previous plan to bring students back to school in person by the end of August. Instead, the largest school district in the state will start the school year online. Meanwhile, the Boulder Valley School District expects to welcome students back for in person learning in late August – depending on where COVID numbers stand at that time.

On that note, Boulder County reported 16 new coronavirus cases on Monday and no new deaths. Monday’s numbers follow the 15 cases reported between Saturday and Sunday, and Friday’s 5-day average of 20 new daily cases. The five-day average of new daily cases on Monday was 12.2. Statewide, cases have continued to increase the past five days.

On Thursday, July 16, Governor Jared Polis announced a state-wide mask ordinance, which means that every Coloradoan older than 10 will be required to wear a mask or face covering in all indoor spaces.

The order goes into effect at midnight.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said Friday, July 10th, the city’s coronavirus numbers are moving in the wrong direction. Speaking at a virtual press conference Hancock reiterated the requirement that people wear face masks when in public spaces where social distancing cannot be observed.

“When you wear a mask you are demonstrating care for those around you,” he said.

The mayor said that with more businesses opening up, the city has seen an increase in non-compliance complaints when it comes to the face mask order.

Hancock said about 2,000 people are tested for the virus each day in Denver, and recently the positivity rate has increased from 3% to 4.5%.

Residents in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties will be required to wear face coverings when entering indoor public spaces as well as in outdoor public spaces when social distancing can’t be observed.

The requirement comes after a 5-4 vote Wednesday, July 8th, by the Tri-County Health Department‘s Board of Health.

Municipalities within the three counties will have the ability to opt out. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said Tuesday that he supports a mandate requiring face coverings, but he told the Aurora Sentinel that he would prefer keeping the Aurora Police Department out of enforcing the rule in favor of city code enforcement staff.

Wednesday’s vote comes after data from the state health department shows growing numbers of coronavirus cases around the state.

Adams County has almost 4,500 cases, Arapahoe County has almost 5,500 cases and Douglas County has more than a thousand cases.

Statewide there are more than 35,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with more than 1,700 deaths.

The Tri-County face covering order is similar to mandates already in place in Denver, Boulder and other Front Range municipalities.

Boulder County reported 16 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the county total to almost 1,500. While three outbreaks have been resolved in the county, state data shows that a new outbreak has happened at the Kidney Center of Longmont.

To date, 73 people in Boulder County have died of the coronavirus.

Residents in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties will be required to wear face coverings when entering indoor public spaces as well as in outdoor public spaces when social distancing can’t be observed.

The requirement comes after a 5-4 vote today by the Tri-County Health Department‘s Board of Health.

Municipalities within the three counties will have the ability to opt out. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said Tuesday that he supports a mandate requiring face coverings, but he told the Aurora Sentinel that he would prefer keeping the Aurora Police Department out of enforcing the rule in favor of city code enforcement staff.

Today’s vote comes after data from the state health department shows growing numbers of coronavirus cases around the state.

Adams County has almost 4,500 cases, Arapahoe County has almost 5,500 cases and Douglas County has more than a thousand cases.

Statewide there are almost 35,000 confirmed cases.

The Tri-County face covering order is similar to mandates already in place in Denver, Boulder and other Front Range municipalities.

On Tuesday, July 7th, Gov. Jared Polis extended the state’s disaster emergency order for another 30 days. Colorado Politics reports that it is the fifth time he’s issued that order since March 10.

The extension comes as there is no end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with outbreaks reported at more than 70 locations during June.

Last night on MSNBC, Polis said he worries about the growing outbreaks in Texas and Arizona, with people from those states traveling to Colorado.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports the average age of people in the state testing positive for the virus has dropped from the upper 40s in April to 32 years old now.

9News reports that age groups under 50 make up less than a percent of the statewide deaths; however, a state spokesperson said it’s only a matter of time before transmission in young people increases transmission in older and at-risk populations, because younger people are much less likely to show symptoms, and they can silently spread the virus.

Denver’s coronavirus testing site at the Pepsi Center closed its gates after noon yesterday as demand grew so high that city officials were concerned that lab capacity – which is already limited – would delay test results further.

The Denver Post reports that the early closure of the site is the latest indication that testing capacity in Colorado remains fragile with cases surging in parts of the U.S. and shortages of testing supplies nationwide.

Meanwhile, a new study shows that more than twice as many women than men dropped out of the labor force in Colorado as the pandemic forced business closures and layoffs earlier this year.

The state’s unemployment rate peaked at around 12% in April, and has since dropped to 10%. Colorado Politics reports that before the pandemic, the gap between male and female workforce participants was less than four percentage points. But now, the difference is greater than seven percentage points.

An author of the new report – done by the nonpartisan Common Sense Institute in Greenwood Village –  said one of the largest drops in the labor force was seen in women over the age of 35.

After a two-week break without meetings, Boulder City Council reconvened Tuesday night, July 7th, and received an update on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting local residents.

Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach said the county’s five-day average of new COVID-19 cases is back down to the low levels reported in late May. According to Zayach, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts cases will continue to level off for most age groups.

The local health department issued a press release Tuesday reminding parents that children older than two years of age should wear face coverings, noting that kids can carry and transmit the virus to others, including vulnerable adults. Zayach said face coverings for children younger than 12 were not mandated at the start of the pandemic but they are nonetheless recommended.

As of July 7th, Colorado is still seeing elevated numbers of coronavirus cases.

The Denver Post reports that for a third consecutive week the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have begun to creep upward for the first time in months.

While the state is not seeing surges at the rate of other states like Arizona and Florida, the number of positive cases has climbed since the first week of June according to figures released by the state health department.

Ahead of the July 4 weekend, managers of local parks and open space areas are reminding people to wear face masks and practice social distancing on trails.

Boulder County is reminding people that the face covering ordinance has been extended. People are asked to bring a face covering with them to open space properties and wear them at the trailheads, when passing others, and anytime it is not possible to keep a safe 6-foot distance from others. Face coverings are not necessary when on the trail away from other people.

Other open space areas in the Front Range will be closed this weekend due to overuse.

Clear Creek in Golden has been closed for the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend due to COVID-19 fears.

All access points to the creek have been fenced off and side streets near the creek have been blocked to all non-local traffic. The trail alongside the creek will remain open but the city of Golden is requiring masks to be worn not only at the creek but on all city property.

According to City Manager Jason Slowinski the decision was made after crowds of people on Clear Creek last weekend were seen not using social distancing and very few wearing masks.

With Colorado’s coronavirus caseload going up, city officials were concerned that visitors from neighboring states, that have even faster increasing cases, would bring infections to Golden. Clear Creek will remain closed until further notice.

Starting Monday, July 6th, Longmont will see some lane closures on Main Street as part of its efforts to support businesses opening during the COVID-19 pandemic. The closures will allow restaurants and retailers to expand outdoor dining and shopping beyond the sidewalks in front of their businesses.

The Times Call reports that crews will begin installing concrete barriers and traffic-diversion barrels on Monday. It will close stretches of northbound and southbound Main Street lanes through downtown Longmont.

The original plan was to have included a complete closing of some lanes between Sixth and Third Avenues. Businesses in that stretch however expressed concerns to the Longmont Downtown Development Authority about the impact on curbside parking in that area and the impact on their businesses, particularly those that offer curbside pickup.

On Thursday the LDDA announced that the closing of a southbound Main Street lane will now start in the middle of Main’s 600 block and end at Fourth Avenue.

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment is offering food pantries and other nonprofit organizations grants of between $5,000 and $50,000 to help them fight hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting July 2nd applications are being accepted for the Denver Emergency Food Relief Fund. About $1 million in federal money is available for Denver based nonprofits, food pantries and emergency food providers.

The funds will provide groceries and prepared meals to people impacted by COVID-19 and must be spent before the end the year. Applications will be accepted through July 15.  Nonprofits must be located within the City and County of Denver and serve Denver residents with the grant funds.

Food pantries have seen demand increase by as much as 10 times during the pandemic.

The Denver public health department says it’s focusing on vulnerable populations, including communities of color, people experiencing poverty or homelessness, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQ and veterans who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

The Colorado Supreme Court on Wednesday, July 1st, overturned Governor Polis’ executive order allowing petition signature collection to be done by mail or email during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ruling means that signatures must be collected in the presence of a petition circulator.

Wednesday’s ruling overrides a lower court decision that upheld the order.

The lawsuit challenging the executive order was brought by a coalition including Colorado Concern, a group made up of wealthy business owners, and Dan Ritchie, the former University of Denver chancellor and CEO at Westinghouse.

When signing the executive order in May, Governor Polis said he didn’t want the COVID-19 pandemic to be a barrier to democracy.

The Supreme Court decision now creates extra barriers for several measures who were seeking to get on November’s ballot. This includes an initiative announced last week to increase setback distances from new oil and gas drilling.

In a statement yesterday, Safe & Healthy Colorado, the coalition behind Initiative 174, said the Supreme Court decision “is a setback for the people of Colorado, our right to petition our government, and the democratic process that should ensure safe and equal access to the ballot for all citizens regardless of their means or the external threat of a pandemic.” They added that they were determined to move forward with the issue.

Monday, June 29th, Boulder County indefinitely extended its mask ordinance. The order requires face coverings for every person older than 12 years of age whenever in public anywhere in Boulder County that social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained.

However, the county says it does not have enough resources to police individual people who are violating the order. Instead, the county health officials are asking for the public’s help in normalizing wearing masks.

The Denver Public Schools will return to in-person classes this fall.

Superintendent Susana Cordova said at a Friday, June 26th, news conference that the district’s 92,000 students will move back to in-person instruction for the school year at all of the district’s schools.

School days will look a lot different for students with mandatory masks, health screenings upon entering schools and modified schedules that keep cohorts of kids together.

However, the Colorado Sun reports the district will also offer an online schooling option for grades K-12 to accommodate families uncomfortable sending their kids back to classrooms.

Some RTD workers picketed Denver transit stations this morning to ask passengers for help as RTD starts front-door boarding on Wednesday, July 1.

According to a statement from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001, pickets took place this morning at Central Park Station and Denver’s Union Station.

The statement says the biggest problem facing bus and train operators right now is passengers who are not wearing masks.

The union says that it wants RTD to return to front-door boarding and fare collection, but asks that it is done safely. They are demanding that shields to protect operators from droplets are installed;  personal protective equipment like disinfectants, gloves and the face masks be provided to drivers;  passengers must wear masks and proper social distancing be enforced.

This morning RTD released a statement saying it has implemented a variety of safety measures and will start a new effort by making face coverings available to riders as supplies last.

RTD’s safety protocols include:
·  Cleaning and sanitizing buses and trains daily.
·  Requiring operators and riders to wear masks.
·  Providing operators an ample supply of PPE, including face coverings, gloves, hand sanitizer, and face shields.

Speaking Wednesday, June 24th, Governor Jared Polis said that people should continue to practice social distancing and to wear face masks to ensure that the state doesn’t see a large spike in COVID-19 cases. Polis encouraged people to minimize contact with other people and to avoid large gatherings during the upcoming July 4 holiday.

“We don’t want our Fourth of July holiday in Colorado to be what Memorial Day weekend was in Arizona and Florida and lead to a renewed round of twenty times the level of virus, where you get to the point where it could be overwhelming our healthcare facilities,” he said.

There have been some outbreaks of COVID-19 around the state including Boulder, El Paso County and Eagle County. Governor Polis said that public health officials are closely monitoring these local spikes because any one of them could lead to a community wide outbreak but he said it’s a reminder that all of our gains could be lost if we don’t continue to practice social distancing.

On Wednesday, June 24th, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said that rate of COVID-19 infections in the city is stabilizing and staying low at 3%. He also said that hospitalizations are trending downward.

Speaking at a press conference this morning the mayor said that the city is continuing to focus on testing and contact tracing. He said on average the city is conducting more than 1,100 tests a day.

The Pepsi Center in Denver hosts the state’s largest COVID-19 testing site, people can get tested at the drive up facility for free.

On Tuesday, June 23rd, Eagle County public health officials announced they are investigating a cluster of COVID-19 cases among teenagers and young adults after at least 11 people tested positive for the disease following social gatherings.

The Denver Post reports, however, that investigators who are performing contact-tracing have found some individuals and families unwilling to isolate at home or share details of the events where people may have been exposed.

That information is important to prevent the spread of the disease, according to the county health department.

The new cases in Eagle county comes a week after local health officials announced a spike in cases in Boulder County following recent college parties, protests and travel.

Colorado reported 160 new cases of the virus on Tuesday — more than on the same day a week before, but still relatively low.

The Colorado Hospital Association reported 141 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of yesterday morning. No one was reported to have died of the virus Monday, though death reports can be delayed.

The City of Boulder announced plans Friday, June 19th, to implement an emergency order that will give the city new ways to address large gatherings on private property.

The move comes as the city has seen a spike in new coronavirus cases, many of which have been traced to parties on the Hill near the CU campus.

The order amends the definition of a Public Nuisance, and officials can now pursue abatement, if a property repeatedly has noise violations or hosts large gatherings.

According to a statement from the city, recent parties and subsequent increase in transmission of COVID-19, particularly among student and youth populations, suggest that warnings and education are not changing behavior.

The city claims that 12 residences have already been identified as repeatedly violating the public health orders on large gatherings.

If any of those 12 properties violate the code again, the city says the result is likely to include mediation with property owners and tenants to address the problem.

If there is still a failure to comply, it could result in revocation of rental licenses, which would also force tenants to vacate.

The Denver Public School District is facing a budget shortfall due to the coronavirus and its impact on the economy. As a result, the district is asking teachers to re-negotiate salary increases recently agreed upon.

Colorado Chalkbeat reports that on Tuesday, Denver Public Schools sent a letter to the Denver Classroom Teachers Association requesting to reopen their three-year agreement.

They will ask teachers, who make an average of $65,000 annually, to forgo their guaranteed cost-of-living pay increases. This would save more money than all other budget adjustments combined.

Both sides must agree to any changes to the contract.

The proposal aims to protect individual school budgets and the paychecks of low-wage workers to avoid layoffs.

The biggest cuts would come from what some call the district’s top-heavy central office. This would include salary cuts for the superintendent and deputy superintendents.

The district does expect to receive up to $65 million in the federal CARES Act but some of the money must be spent directly on COVID-19 related expenses such as cleaning classrooms or buying face masks.

The school board is set to hear public comment on the proposed budget on June 25. The school board must approve next year’s budget by June 30.

Boulder County Public health is reporting a spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases. Between Thursday, June 11th and Wednesday morning, June 17th, 108 Boulder County residents have tested positive for the virus. A statement released today says the majority of new cases are among college-age people living in the Hill neighborhood, although this does not represent all of the new cases.

Some of the people newly infected report recent out-of-state travel as well as attending large gatherings in Boulder including parties on the Hill and recent Black Lives Matter protests.

The new cases mean that Boulder County has gone from having the second lowest new case rate in the Metro Denver Area to having the third highest increase in new cases just after Denver and Adams counties.

Colorado lawmakers officially wrapped up the 2020 legislative session on Monday, June 15th.

The COVID-19 pandemic shortened the session by over a month and forced lawmakers to take a 10-week hiatus.

On Monday legislators focused on amendments on outstanding bills including one to extend a state reinsurance program. Lawmakers also voted to refer a nicotine product tax increase to voters in November.

Also on Monday, lawmakers approved a bill to allow part-time workers to earn paid sick leave to care for themselves and others.

The state’s budget was finalized with major cuts across nearly all sectors. $3.3 billion was cut overall including $621 million in cuts from K-12 education and $598 million cut from higher education.

Speaking on Monday afternoon, June 15th, Governor Jared Polis said that additional businesses in the state could begin to reopen effective June 18th.

Bars will be open up to 25% or 50 people indoors. Overnight camps of up to 25 kids outdoors and 10 kids indoors will also be allowed. Cosmetic services like facials, shaving and lip waxing can take place.

Indoor gatherings of up to 100 people and outdoor events of up to 175 can take place as long as social distancing guidelines are observed.

Governor Polis also said that we need to find a sustainable way to live with COVID-19 and that includes allowing for local variances.

By the end of this month local communities will have the ability to enter a new reopening phase called Protect Our Neighbors, if they meet thresholds like containing surges in cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 through testing, case investigation, contact tracing, and site-specific closures.

Under this phase much larger outdoor events of up to 500 people would be allowed. Governor Polis said there is even the possibility of some counties hosting county fairs.

The state is seeking public feedback on the Protect our Neighbors phase of reopening. Feedback can be made online at https://covid19.colorado.gov/ through June 18.

Denver City Council has extended the city’s COVID-19 emergency declaration until July 20.

The state of emergency was first enacted on March 12 and was set to expire on June 15, and means the city is eligible for federal relief money.

The city of Denver in partnership with public health officials, have created a Racial Equity Council, in response to the disproportionate number of People of Color dying from COVID-19. The council has helped to identify locations for Denver Public Health to increase access to testing in underserved communities.

The city already offers drive-up testing at the Pepsi Center. The testing is free but people must first register online or call 311.

Additional testing sites are now available in the city, specifically to make testing more available to communities of color.

On Thursday, June 18, testing will be available at the Sam’s Club on E. 35th Ave.

On Saturday, June 20, New Hope Baptist Church will host a testing site.

On Tuesday June 23, testing is happening at The Center for African American Health on Hudson St.

Locations and dates are listed at https://www.denvergov.org/, search for Racial Equity Council.

On Thursday, June 11th, Governor Jared Polis reinforced the need to maintain social distancing and the wearing of face coverings as the state continues to move to reopen during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference today, Governor Polis said there is growing evidence that face coverings make a significant impact in limiting the community spread of the virus.

The Governor also announced a new campaign to encourage employers to allow telecommuting to continue as much as possible. The Can Do Colorado Community Challenge is aimed at encouraging companies and local government entities to keep the momentum going on telecommuting. A website, CanDoColorado.org, has been created to offer resources and guidance for businesses.

The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to be mostly on the decline in Colorado. Gov. Jared Polis gave an update Tuesday, June 9th, praising Coloradans for continuing with practices like social distancing and wearing masks to limit the spread of the virus.

The number of cases is still growing in the state, but at a much slower rate than last month.

There have been more than 28,000 cases in Colorado and 1,292 people have died from the virus.

Three prominent restaurants in Boulder will permanently close. The Walnut Restaurant Group, which operates The Med, Brasserie Ten Ten and Via Perla, will permanently close those three eateries, according to a message posted Monday to the restaurants’ websites.

The message said that with the new economic pressures that the hospitality industry is facing, they simply cannot continue to run and operate the businesses with the level of quality and service that they are committed to providing.

Monday, June 8th, Gov. Jared Polis sent a letter to the Center for Disease Control asking for asked for federal help in obtaining flu vaccines. The letter, addressed to Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the CDC, says that one of the most significant threats to the state’s continued progress in battling COVID-19 is the upcoming flu season.

Polis said that his administration has been working to increase vaccination rates, but needs to do even more this coming flu season especially among older Coloradans and vulnerable residents, to reduce the number of flu patients in need of hospitalization and free up those beds for COVID-19 patients if needed. The letter asks that the CDC ensures that flu vaccines be widely available.

Governor Polis also asked that more Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, be available for healthcare workers and that additional federal resources be made available particularly for local public health departments that serve rural areas, senior living facilities and those who work with marginalized, hard to reach communities.

The city of Longmont has reopened playgrounds and picnic shelters.

Longmont parks staff is removing caution tape from playgrounds and shelters, starting today, along with reinstalling swings and other equipment that was removed during the closures.

A playground area that is still taped off should be avoided for now.

The city said the new Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines announced last Thursday remain in place for all Longmont parks, playgrounds, shelters and other facilities.

Some of the guidelines include avoiding the park if you are having flu-like symptoms, maintaining 6-foot social distancing, having face coverings, and no more than 10 individuals may be on a playground or in a shelter area at one time.

Officials told the Times Call that Longmont parks’ restrooms remain open and continue to be cleaned twice daily but please bring hand sanitizers and wipes when using those facilities.

Use of playgrounds and shelters is at the visitors own risk.

On Thursday, June 4th, Colorado governor Jared Polis announced a new public service campaign “Our Masks are Our Passport to the Colorado We Love.”

The new campaign was launched with updated guidance for different businesses and organizations to reopen in the state.

Churches, synagogues and mosques, along with outdoor swimming pools can reopen to 50% capacity or up to 50 people, whichever is fewer.

Playgrounds at parks can reopen to up to 10 people at a time.

The Boulder Creek Festival which had been rescheduled from Memorial Day weekend to late July has been canceled.

Organizers announced Friday, June 5th, that the 33rd annual festival would not take place at all this year. The festival is scheduled now for Memorial Day 2021.

According to organizers, the festival attracts over 50,000 people daily with over 300 vendors from across the state. And cannot go ahead due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

The festival has launched the Virtual Marketplace on BoulderCreekfest.com to continue to support small businesses and partners that had already signed up for the event.

Testing for the coronavirus is ramping up in Colorado with help from Americorps and Senior Corps.

On Tuesday, June 2nd, Governor Polis announced that 800 members of both programs will be helping the state,  primarily with contact tracing – tracking down people who may have been exposed to the virus and asking them to get tested themselves and quarantine if necessary.

On Wednesday, June 3rd, Colorado health officials gave updates on outdoor recreation under the state’s Safer at Home order which is in place until July 1.

Coloradans are encouraged to get outside – as long as they can maintain proper social distancing.

Pools and playgrounds will be allowed to open with restrictions, although an exact opening date has not yet been set. Final guidelines will be released tomorrow.

Boulder County continues a downward trend in reported coronavirus-related deaths and probable cases. Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach presented the latest report to Boulder City Council Tuesday night, June 2nd, and said the number of cases has increased by two since Monday of this week.

To date, the number of Boulder County coronavirus-related deaths remained at 62. In Boulder County, Longmont continues to have the highest number of cases and most severe rate of infection.

Across Colorado as of yesterday hospitalizations for COVID-19 fell to their lowest level since late March; However, deaths directly linked to the new virus jumped.  It’s possible though that delayed reporting accounted for some of the increase.

On Monday, June 1st, the City of Boulder announced more staff layoffs and furloughs due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Effective today the City will lay off 56 standard and fixed-term employees, end temporary roles with an additional 68 employees and furlough an additional four standard employees. 103 staff positions which are currently vacant will remain so through the end of 2020, for an estimated cost savings of $5 million, according to a press release from the city.

On Friday, May 29th, Gov. Jared Polis extended his previous order on housing protections for 15 days. The governor’s order limits evictions, foreclosures and utility disconnections. It also expedites the processing of unemployment insurance claims.

A release from the Governor’s office says he has also extended the suspension of some requirements for proposed ballot initiatives during the pandemic and authorizes the collection of signatures by email or mail.

The City of Denver will continue on with its own moratorium on evictions. Mayor Hancock said in March that Denver sheriff’s deputies would be directed away from evictions indefinitely during the virus outbreak.

A city spokesperson said in an email to The Denverite late last week that Denver’s order will not expire on May 31 and will stay in place until further notice.

Most of the 250 National Guard troops staffing some of Denver’s homeless shelters will pull out of their posts Monday, June 1st, leaving already understaffed nonprofits and the city to fill the gap.

The Denver Post reports that the city has tried to provide more space in their shelters to curb the spread of the virus but 341 people that are homeless have tested positive for COVID-19, six have died.

The city and partnering nonprofits, like the Denver Rescue Mission, are hiring staff to step in for the National Guard once they leave. They are looking for more people every day, especially volunteers who can work meal shifts.

Two months ago Gov. Jared Polis ordered the troops to staff existing homeless shelters. This allowed City officials and nonprofits in Denver to shift their workers from the existing shelters to the new group shelters at the National Western Complex’s Hall of Education and the Denver Coliseum.

The first cases of the virus hit the homeless population at the end of March. The homeless population makes up about half a percent of Denver’s population but accounts for nearly 7% of the city’s overall COVID-19 cases.

Denver Public Schools will likely require that students wear face masks when they return to school in the fall in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The Denver Post reports that class sizes will also be reduced to 10 to 16 people, including instructors.

Large assemblies will be discontinued and facilities will be disinfected throughout the school day.

On Wednesday, May 27th, after hours of debate, the state legislature approved new rules to allow lawmakers to cast votes remotely during a public health emergency.

The vote was along party lines with Republicans opposing remote voting.

The Colorado Sun reports that the new rules are expected to take effect for votes happening today in the House and Senate chambers.

Yesterday’s vote came a day after leaders in the House and Senate, both Democrats, confirmed that legislative committees will not accept witness testimony by video or telephone.

Thursday, May 28th, The ACLU of Colorado filed a class action lawsuit against Governor Jared Polis and the Department of Corrections seeking an emergency order to compel the DOC to protect medically vulnerable incarcerated people from COVID-19.

Erica Grossman, an attorney with the ACLU says the lawsuit asks the Department of Corrections to prioritize the release of people who are older, sick, or otherwise vulnerable to serious illness or death from COVID-19 and who pose no threat to public safety.

Governor Polis had issued an executive order, parts of which have now expired, ordering a relaxing of standards for release of prisoners during the coronavirus pandemic, with a view to creating more space in prisons and to facilitate more opportunity for social distancing.

The Denver Post reports that only 290 inmates were released over two months under the order, less than 2% of the system’s pre-pandemic population.

Nearly 600 prisoners in the state have tested positive for COVID-19 and 35 Department of Corrections employees.

The Sterling Correctional Facility has been identified as having one of the state’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with 539 confirmed cases. Two prisoners there have died as a result of the virus.

State officials are saying that, although recent data shows the curve of infections from coronavirus has flattened, cases could rise around mid-August, when schools usually re-open.

Colorado Politics reports that health officials and a University of Colorado researcher said Tuesday, May 26th, that an estimated 170,000 Coloradans — both symptomatic and asymptomatic — have had COVID-19, or nearly 3% of the population.

The number of new tracked cases has been on the decline since late April, and cell phone data show Coloradans shifted to “stay-at-home” behaviors in March and April, which the researchers credit for reducing the spread of the virus.

Dr. Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health said the state achieved approximately 80 percent social distancing during the governor’s stay-at-home order, and now the state is aiming for 65% social distancing during the current Safer-at-Home phase.

Even in best-case scenarios, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths will remain relatively level for months to come.

Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of the state department of health said that the data indicates that we’re still at the beginning of the epidemic.

Colorado lawmakers return to the state capitol Tuesday, May 26th, for the first time since the legislature shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first order of business will be to pass a budget. The state’s new fiscal year begins July 1st and the upcoming budget will look very different from when lawmakers first began considering it before the pandemic.

The state is facing a $3.3 billion shortfall as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic.

As they resume work today, lawmakers will not be required to wear face masks, but many are expected to. All others entering the building will be required to wear face masks and all people entering the building will have their temperatures checked.

Social distancing will be observed in both chambers. Lawmakers in the House are expected to utilize the public gallery to allow for more spacing.

On Tuesday, May 26th, CU Boulder announced its roadmap for opening the campus for the fall semester. In an email to students, faculty and staff, Chancellor Phil De Stefano said that on-campus testing for COVID-19 would be available for students and faculty to both continuously monitor for potential spread and to test individuals with symptoms.

Masks will be required for all students and employees. In-person classes will take place through Wednesday, Nov. 25, and then remote teaching will happen after Thanksgiving to allow students to travel home and remain there until the spring semester begins.

On Monday, May 25th, Governor Polis announced that restaurants could begin to offer in-house dining beginning Wednesday, May 27th, under certain strict restrictions. These include limiting the number of diners to half the facility’s occupancy.

A maximum of 50 people will be allowed in restaurants and groups will be limited to a maximum of 8. Outdoor seating will be encouraged where possible. Bars that don’t serve food will not be allowed to reopen.

Some restaurants around the state have come under scrutiny for opening for in-house dining early and were made close under state public health orders.

A restaurant in Castle Rock was shut down by health officials after a video went viral showing crowds in the restaurant on Mothers’ Day.

Now the owners of C&C Breakfast & Korean Kitchen are suing Governor Polis and health officials over having its license suspended.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Douglas County court and argues that the suspension of the restaurant license was unconstitutional and deprives them, “of their livelihood and ability to operate their business after they simply allowed customers onto their premises to serve food and beverages.”

On Monday Governor Polis gave more details on further reopenings in the state. Summer camps for children will be allowed to reopen on June 1 with several restrictions including limits on the numbers of children allowed to participate. Overnight camps will have to wait until July to reopen.

Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday, May 21st, that he anticipates restaurants will be able to reopen statewide by the middle or end of next week under new guidelines that will be finalized over the weekend.

Colorado Politics reports that Polis discussed the plans during an online town hall with restaurant owners.

Some of the guidelines that have already been drafted by the state include allowing limited indoor seating with tables being spaced 10 feet apart. Restaurants would be encouraged to create more outdoor seating in areas such as sidewalks and parking lots in accordance with local planning regulations.

Restaurants would have to take the temperature of every employee before shifts begin, anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 would be required to stay home. Parties would be limited to six diners, and employees would be required to wear face masks and gloves when interacting with customers and handling food.

A recent survey by the Colorado Restaurant Association estimated that the industry lost an estimated $975 million in April.

The city of Denver is announced Thursday, May 21st, a large scale free coronavirus testing site outside the Pepsi Center.

The Denver Post reports that Mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will be at the site later today announcing the logistics of the new testing setup which will be a drive-up facility.

Widespread testing for the coronavirus has been identified by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock as an integral part of the city’s path towards reopening.

Earlier this week Governor Polis announced that anyone in the state with symptoms of COVID-19 could get tested for free regardless of whether they have health insurance.

Speaking Wednesday, May 20th, With the Memorial Day weekend here Governor Polis and local authorities are asking people to recreate responsibly outdoors on local trails. People are asked to stay close to home and to maintain social distancing.

The City of Boulder said yesterday it would partially reopen some outdoor recreation services.

The Park-to-Park shuttle will begin its service to Chautauqua on May 23, 2020. The city says the shuttle has implemented safety measures to help prevent the community spread of COVID-19.

Larger, full-sized buses will be used to allow for social distancing. Only 10 riders will be allowed on the bus at a time. All passengers will enter at the rear door and Face coverings are required for all passengers.

Boulder Reservoir will re-open on a very limited basis only to boat and small watercraft permit holders, and those with existing reservations.

The Rocky Mountain National Park says it plans to increase recreational access and services on May 27.
Some campgrounds will partially reopen in early June.

Trail Ridge Road will remain closed in an effort to curb the number of tourists who could potentially spread the novel coronavirus. According to the park’s website Trail Ridge Road is closed to all travel until further notice due to COVID-19.

There have been 3 cases reported in Colorado of an inflammatory disease related to COVID-19 that specifically impacts children. Dr. Sam Dominguez said at a press conference on Wednesday, May 20th, that Children’s Hospital in Denver is able to treat Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome. He said it is quite rare, but advised parents to be on the lookout for symptoms including multiple days of high fever, rash and significant abdominal pain. He advised parents to contact their pediatricians if they are concerned about possible symptoms of MIS-C.

The panel charged with setting the state’s budget slashed nearly $500 million from Colorado’s higher education funding. The reduction amounts to a cut of almost 60 percent from the current budget.

The Joint Budget Committee decided yesterday to make the cuts, and as Chalkbeat reports, lawmakers are trying to address the state’s shortfall in revenue due to the pandemic.

However, the impact of the cuts to higher education will be softened by Governor Jared Polis’ Monday evening order to give $450 million from federal money to the state’s public colleges and universities.

In addition to falling state revenues, higher education is facing another challenge from the threat of enrollment declines.

The cuts to colleges and universities came after the end of a long day of agonizing decisions by the committee including discussions of potential cuts to K-12 schools. Any cuts in that area such as reducing base funding were put off.

Colorado’s college tuition is already high relative to other state’s public systems. During the last two recessions, the schools raised tuition to make up for a decline in state support.

There will be no tuition or fee increases over the coming academic year at the Colorado University System after yesterday’s Board of Regents vote.

Chancellor Philip DiStefano said in a release that they want to ensure access for students and families during this time. The Regents also decided to suspend employee merit increases for the next fiscal year.

So far the Boulder campus has notified about 450 employees that they will be furloughed on or before June 1.

On Tuesday, May 19th, leaders of the Boulder Valley School District told the Board of Education that its schools may be in better financial shape than initially predicted.

The Daily Camera reports that the system’s Chief Financial Officer, Bill Sutter, said that funding for K-12 cannot be cut beyond a certain level as a requirement of federal pandemic relief.

Sutter said that there’s a scenario where next year doesn’t look all that bad, an outlook that is very different from what it was recently.

The district is currently predicting no funding increase from the state and a slight decrease in enrollment.

Some Republicans are not pleased with the Governor’s executive order.  On Monday night, May 18th, Governor Polis along with Democratic leadership announced how the state will allocate more than $1.6 billion dollars in federal CARES Act funding – some of which, as noted, will ease the cuts to higher education and K-12 schools.

However, The Denver Channel reports that GOP leaders objected to the governor’s order saying that it was issued without input from their side of the aisle.

State Senator Bob Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale, said in a statement that, for the governor to announce the allocation without so much as consulting the Joint Budget Committee, is not only a lapse in leadership, but has eliminated the people’s voice over how their money is spent.

Other GOP members accused Polis of going back on his statement made in April that the state legislature decides how revenues are spent.  U.S. Representative Scott Tipton, a Republican from the West Slope said that the federal Treasury Department should look into the governor’s executive order to see if it meets the law’s requirements.

The Governor said in his order that he has the authority to direct the expenditures, and he has worked in a bipartisan way with the federal delegation ad legislative leadership.

The City of Boulder announced Wednesday, May 20th, it is closing part of Boulder Creek, close to Eben G. Fine Park, effective immediately in an effort to reduce the community spread of COVID-19.

Wednesday’s announcement comes after a newspaper photograph showing dozens of young people gathered Monday along the banks of Boulder Creek. None of the sunbathers wore masks or practiced social distancing.

The closures include all park land and creek bed north of the Boulder Creek Path from the eastern boundary of Eben G. Fine Park to the western boundary of the city of Boulder.
Eben G. Fine Park itself will remain open.

Today’s announcement comes after crowds of people gathered at Boulder Creek last weekend

The closures will be monitored by police and gatherings of 10 or more people will be asked to disperse.

Janitors and members of the Service Employees International Union staged a protest in downtown Denver on Tuesday, May 19th, saying that managers of large office buildings need to take care of the people who clean them.

Protesters circled the block around 1801 California Street – a high rise office building managed by Brookfield Properties.

The Denverite reports that the demonstrators blew car horns and waved signs in Spanish saying, “we want justice” as a small group chanted similar slogans on the corner.

A local leader of the SEIU said the pandemic has made janitorial services more essential than ever, and his union is demanding healthcare, personal protective equipment, higher wages and new training. The union represents about 2,400 janitors who work in about 800 buildings in the metro area. At least 80 percent of the union’s janitors are Latina women.

In an effort to get feedback from stakeholders, the state Department of Public Health and Environment has released preliminary guidelines for restaurants to reopen.

Under the proposed measures indoor seating must be eight feet apart, and all tables must have six or fewer seats. All employees must wear facial coverings and gloves. Customers when not eating or drinking would have to wear masks, and also as they enter or exit. And Restaurants would have to stop serving by 10 p.m.

On May 25, Memorial Day the state will decide if and when restaurants can reopen and under what rules.

Governor Jared Polis said Monday, May 18th, that anyone in the state who has coronavirus symptoms can get tested.

Polis said that when there weren’t enough tests in Colorado, the original message from state officials was that if people were sick, whether it was COVID-19 or not, they should self-isolate at home.

“That can still be your choice,” said Polis “but we are now encouraging you to get tested to see if it is COVID if you have flu-like symptoms.”

Polis said that there isn’t as much flu now in Colorado due to social distancing, which means that if you have flu-like symptoms there’s a higher chance that you could have COVID-19.

Polis said that testing is free whether a person has insurance or not. There is no copay or out-of-pocket fee, regardless of the type of health insurance someone may have.

Sunday, May 17th, Governor Jared Polis said that he expects many K-12 public schools will open this fall in Colorado and elsewhere.

He told Fox News Sunday that it’s not going to look like any other school year and things will likely be run in a “hybrid” fashion. Interactions in hallways and during lunchtime will be limited, and up to 20% of kids will continue with online classes at home, if that is the preference of their parents.

He said that schools could also close periodically when there’s an inevitable outbreak.

On Saturday, May 16th, The governor ordered that workers at essential government businesses and critical government jobs must continue to wear masks when at work until at least June 15th. The mask order has already been in place for 30 days, and Polis cited the continuing need to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Workers in grocery stores, restaurants, liquor stores, and food processing plants, among others, must wear masks and should also wear gloves if provided by employers.

While the general public in Colorado is not required to wear masks, at least 15 cities and counties including Denver and Boulder require face coverings for all individuals in public businesses and spaces.

It will be easier now for people to collect signatures for ballot measures. On Friday, May 15th, Governor Polis signed an executive order allowing the Secretary of State to create temporary rules so signatures can be collected by mail or email.

The governor also ordered that unaffiliated and independent candidates for office are allowed to gather signatures by mail or email.

The Denver Post reports that the fate of several ballot measures have been hanging in the balance including a proposal for paid family leave.

The change in rules has been a sensitive topic in the last several weeks.  Some say it’s necessary, and others argue it could open a Pandora’s Box.

In response to the Governor’s order, the Denver Chamber of Commerce said in a release that it was a violation of our constitution.

But a coalition of health and child advocacy groups applauded the governor’s action including those that back an initiative that would increase taxes on tobacco and nicotine products.

On Friday, May 15th, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment changed the way it reports deaths from the coronavirus. Now the state includes a tally of total fatalities among people who had COVID-19, but the disease was not listed as the cause of death on the death certificate.

As of Sunday, 1,215 people who had the virus have died, with 878 of those listed as succumbing due to the virus. The number of deaths caused by COVID-19 remained unchanged from the prior day.

And as of yesterday less than 500 remained hospitalized with the virus – the lowest number since the end of March.

Denver area hospitals report that the number of emergency room visits were down anywhere from 30 to 50 percent in April compared to the same month last year.

The Denver Post reports that the lower numbers could be due to fewer accidents from work or outdoor activities; but according to an emergency room physician, that doesn’t explain why hospitals are seeing fewer heart attacks and strokes.

Dr. Richard Zane of CU’s School of Medicine said that not a single day goes by that they don’t see people who have had symptoms with things like stroke or heart attack for days, but they delayed going in to the hospital.

Emergency responders and hospitals are encouraging patients to use virtual care options, if appropriate, and to seek emergency care should it be needed. They emphasize that they have measures in place to handle the coronavirus.

Boulder County health workers are having trouble getting some people to share the information needed to track the progress of COVID-19. The Daily Camera reports that such information is critical to public health and the key to the county’s recovery from the pandemic.

Chana Gousettis, spokesperson for the county health department, said that the problem is an increasing trend particularly among the Spanish speaking population.

She added it is possibly related to immigration status as well as concerns about joblessness – if someone is identified as exposed to the virus, then the belief may be their employer would fire them, even if they don’t have symptoms.

She also said that it’s likely some just aren’t comfortable making a public record of everyone they have been in touch with on a day-to-day basis.

Health officials emphasized that, in order to limit the spread its staff needs those who have been sick to recall and share the details of everyone with whom they have had close contact during the time they were infectious. The department says it does not share data with anyone.

About 30 people are working to get in touch with those contacts to inform them of their potential exposure as rapidly and as sensitively as possible.

On Friday, May 15th, Governor Polis gave the latest updates on the coronavirus in Colorado.

1,091 people have died from the virus statewide, but the governor says the number of serious COVID-19 cases appears to be steadily falling.

He also spoke about today being declared a day to honor those who have died from COVID-19.

The State Capitol, along with cities, counties and other organizations, will be turning their lights red at 7 p.m. to honor the more than 1,000 Coloradans who have passed. The state is encouraging buildings and businesses across the state to turn their lights red as well, and for police and fire departments to turn their lights on at 7 p.m. for one minute.

Coloradans can participate by wearing their protective masks for a minute of silence to show that they are doing their part to save lives.

Gov. Polis said that the main reason Coloradans will honor the over 1,000 lives lost here in the state was because victim’s family and friends were not able to have proper last rites and funerals for them. He added that this is also for friends and neighbors who are struggling in these trying times and to let them know that they are not alone.

Denver mayor Michael Hancock announced on Thursday, May 14th, that thousands of city employees would have to take 8 furlough days by the end year due to significant budget cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. First responders like police and firefighters would be exempt.
The furloughs are expected to save the city about $16 million. Overall the city is facing a $226 million shortfall.

The Denverite reports that the city anticipates a 10.5 percent loss of revenue for its general fund. The loss in the 2008-’09 recession amounted to about 6.5 percent.

12 of the 13 city council members and the mayor will take 8 voluntary furlough days.

Candi CdeBaca who represents Denver’s District 9 said in a statement on her Facebook page that she would not take voluntary furlough days because coming into 2020, Denver’s legislative branch had already been operating on an anemic budget. Now we are being told by a separate branch of government to cut our office budgets during a time when we must provide more support to constituents.

CdeBaca concluded her statement saying that her district has the highest concentration of homelessness and poverty in the city, and rather surrendering funds that won’t make a difference to the Mayor’s excessive budget, her office will use what would be furlough savings to continue giving back directly to those who need it most in the community.

Colorado colleges and universities have received millions of dollars from the federal coronavirus stimulus package to help students who are impacted during the pandemic. But the Trump administration has barred colleges from using that money to help undocumented students including DACA students. It’s prompting state colleges to find other ways to help the students.

Colorado State University, based on an assessment of student need, has given $1,500 grants to 400 students not included in the federal CARES Act, including 218 undocumented individuals.

Metropolitan State University of Denver said grants for its Dreamer population would range from $250 to $650 per student based on need, with $80,000 to help the university’s 381 undocumented students.

All of the University of Colorado campuses has set up a student relief fund. It is giving preference to students in the DACA program and others who are unable to get federal money. CU’s grants are also based on type of need. The University of Northern Colorado is looking at private philanthropy to help their undocumented student population.

There are 15,000 immigrants in Colorado enrolled in the Obama-era DACA program, which allowed people who came to the U.S. as children to stay in the country.

Governor Jared Polis met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday, May 13th, along with the Governor of North Dakota.

The two were told by Trump that they were doing an excellent job. Polis and other members of the Colorado delegation wore masks while Donald Trump and Governor Doug Burgum, a Republican, not wearing masks.

Governor Polis took his mask off during the meeting.

Polis told reporters that he and others, including Trump advisor Jared Kushner, met with the president for more than 20 minutes after the televised portion of the meeting discussing testing and the need to increase supplies at nursing homes, the governor said. Governor Polis told reporters after the meeting that his mission in Washington was seek more federal support, including testing supplies and protective equipment such as N95 masks.

Polis has avoided directly criticizing Donald Trump during the pandemic, although he has expressed frustration with the federal response especially around testing. On being asked by reporters after Wednesday’s meeting about his feelings on Donald Trump, he repeatedly said, “He’s the president that we have.”

One residential nursing home in Broomfield has seen deaths from COVID-19 more than double in the past week.

The Daily Camera reports that figures released Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, showed 9 confirmed COVID-19 deaths at Sunrise at Flatirons two more deaths have been identified as probable. A week earlier it had recorded four.

The Broomfield Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, another facility, has now recorded seven deaths resulting from the pandemic, up from five one week earlier. Residential Nursing facilities have been a hot spot for COVID-19.

1,062 people have died of COVID-19 in the state.

Boulder residents were allowed to adopt Safer at Home measures last Saturday after six-and-a-half weeks under stay-at-home orders to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. County health officials had mostly positive news for Boulder City Council last night.

Boulder County Director of Public Health Jeff Zayach told Boulder City Council that the growth in daily COVID-19 cases peaked on April 27 and has been dropping since. Zayach said as of Tuesday, there were 775 county cases, with 144 hospitalized, 297 recovered and 54 deaths.

Zayach told city council that the majority of deaths from COVID-19 are happening in long-term care facilities. He said the county an entire team working on that to support facilities and doing everything they can to control the spread in those facilities.

Zayach noted that the number of positive cases could increase as the county begins offering more testing. He emphasized that maintaining a distance of six feet from others, avoiding large gatherings and wearing face coverings is still recommended to avoid infection.

Restaurants expect to hear from Governor Jared Polis on May 25 about policies for how restaurants can operate going forward. With that in mind, city council discussed temporary right-of-way changes that would allow outdoor sit-down dining around town, with separation among patrons, and maybe even liquor service, if the state allows. Parking changes could also be adopted with some sections of streets or alleys closed to traffic to create more outdoor seating with the goal of getting restaurants back on their feet.

Lawmakers were advised Tuesday morning, May 12th, by the state’s joint budget committee that about a tenth of next year’s budget will be cut as a result of the pandemic.

The state will have approximately $3 billion less to spend next year. The drop is not just due to the coronavirus however, Colorado Politics reports that oil and gas revenue is declining also.

But it is the pandemic that is creating the biggest impact. General fund revenues which are made up of individual and corporate income taxes, and sales and use taxes, are estimated to be down more than $2 billion in 2020-21 as a result of the coronavirus.

Lawmakers will have to tackle the state budget when they return to the state capitol later this month.

On Monday, May 11th, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Constitution requires that the Weld County provide special protections to medically vulnerable people incarcerated in the Weld County Jail. The ruling comes after a class action lawsuit was filed by a team of ACLU and civil right attorneys. The suit asked the courts to compel the Sheriff to comply with public health guidelines. These include physical distancing — for all high-risk people being held at the jail.

The suit said that the sheriff’s department had failed to identify and provide heightened protections for medically vulnerable people, in violation of their constitutional rights. The court ordered that the Weld County Jail must identify incarcerated people who are medically vulnerable, socially distance them and provide them with single cells to the greatest extent possible, monitor them for signs of illness, adequately clean communal spaces used by medically vulnerable inmates, and ensure that medically vulnerable inmates have access to face masks.

Speaking Monday, May 11th, Governor Jared Polis said that there are nearly 20,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Colorado, but he said the actual number of positive cases is likely to be several times that number. 987 people have died of COVID-19 so far in the state.

Governor Polis said that public health officials are looking at the data for the last 2 weeks, since the state transitioned into the safer-at-home phase.
He said that they are seeing a decrease in the growth of diagnosed cases and a decrease in the number of hospitalizations.

The daily growth rate in Colorado is 0.9% daily growth rate, that’s the first time Colorado has been below 1% growth. Daily hospitalizations are down to 0.1% growth.

Approximately 1 in 10 people who contract the virus will need hospitalization.

Some updates were made today regarding the opening of certain facilities in the state.

Camping can resume in state parks, unless host counties don’t want it. Governor Polis said that camping is a safe activity with campsites set several feet apart. Campers are being accepted by reservation only at cpwshop.com.


Monday, May 11th, Governor Polis called out those who have not been adhering to the social distancing guidelines and particularly businesses that have broken the law in opening their establishments. On Sunday, C & C Coffee and Kitchen garnered national attention when it opened for dine-in services, attracting crowds of people into the restaurant. The Denver Post reports that today The Tri-County Health Department ordered the Castle Rock restaurant to close until it complies with the statewide COVID-19 public health order limiting restaurants to take out and delivery services.

A statement from the Health Department said that “If the restaurant refuses to follow Governor Jared Polis’ public health order, further legal action will be taken that could include revocation of the restaurant’s license.”

School Districts in the metro area may be winding down their online teaching courses with the end of the academic year approaching, however, they will still provide food assistance to families in need throughout the summer. Speaking at a town hall earlier this week, Julie Van Domelen, Executive Director of the Emergency Family Assistance Association, said school districts have helped reduce the pressure on local food banks.

Van Domelen says the Boulder Valley School District has stepped in and played and incredibly important role in food distribution. “We all see on the TV these lines and lines of cars trying to get food, we have not experienced that and I think part of the reason is that the school districts have stepped in with really significant distributions in multiple sites,” she said.

BVSD continues to distribute several meals’ worth of food items and fresh produce to families every Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Identification or paperwork is not be required to receive food.

Details on the location of food distribution is at bvsd.org.

Denver Public Schools said Thursday, May 7th, that the next academic year will begin as scheduled in August but will likely consist of a mix of in-person and remote learning.

The school district Superintendent Susana Cordova said in a letter to students and teachers that this is part of an effort to maintain social distancing and prioritize health and safety amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Cordova said that the plans haven’t been finalized yet but they will follow the guidance of health experts as they develop them.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday, May 6th, approved a request from Colorado and a dozen other states to allow online purchases using federal food assistance.

Colorado Politics reports that Before March of this year, only New York and Washington allowed recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to order food online as a pilot program. Between March and April, the USDA added four more states. In the majority of participating states, Walmart and Amazon are the only authorized retailers to accept online payments.

People are continuing to file for unemployment assistance in Colorado at record levels. The Department of Labor reported more than 28,000 people filed initial claims last week. That’s a reduction from the last full week in April which saw more than 38,000 initial claims filed. All of the top seven weeks for claims in state history have come since March 8.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife have extended indefinitely the current ban on camping in Colorado state parks.

The ban began six weeks ago and has been extended until further notice.

CPW said the decision was based on Colorado’s Safer at Home guidelines, along with advice from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Speaking this Wednesday afternoon, May 6th, Governor Jared Polis said that it is extremely likely that the coronavirus had been circulating in Colorado long before the first official case was actually confirmed.

Governor Polis reiterated the need for people to only go out in public when needed, to wear a mask in public and to maintain social distancing.

As the state transitions into the safer at home phase Governor Polis said people should significantly reduce their personal contacts with other people. He said people should have just a third of the social interactions that they would have had in January of this year.

Mayor Michael Hancock on Tuesday afternoon, May 5th, outlined the next steps for businesses and retail establishments who will begin to open up this Saturday, following the expiration of the city’s Stay At Home order.

Hancock said measures like special hours for vulnerable populations will be introduced as well as, six feet of physical distancing between people, symptoms and temperature checks, and frequent disinfecting of common spaces.

Mayor Hancock said that while many businesses will be able to reopen this weekend, several will still be subject to closure. These include restaurants and bars, except for curbside pick-up and delivery; gyms, yoga and fitness studios; music theaters and concert venues; outdoor recreation facilities like children’s playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts; libraries and recreation centers. Large gatherings of 10 or more people will still be prohibited through May 26 as per the state’s order.

Starting tomorrow, residents in Denver will be required to wear facemasks while in businesses, retail establishments or at bus stops.

Boulder County announced Tuesday, May 5th, that it will not extend its stay at home order beyond May 8th and instead the county will move into a safer at home phase.

In a statement today, Jeff Zayach, the Executive Director of Boulder County Public Health, said that he feels comfortable moving forward to the more relaxed Safer-at-Home phase on May 9 since progress has been made on testing access and staff has been added for contact tracing. Zayach also added that the county has been working with the business community to develop social distancing requirements.

Beginning May 9, every person older than 12 years of age will be required to wear a face covering when in public anywhere in Boulder County, where social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained.

Today’s announcement comes after a Public Health “Facial Covering” Order was approved over the weekend by the Boulder County Board of Health.

May 9th is the day after the county’s stay at home order expires. Boulder County follows a similar ordinance approved last week by Boulder City Council.

Boulder County’s order includes some exemptions, including people working alone in an office, anyone whose health would be negatively impacted by wearing a face covering, and children aged 12 years and younger.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will not extend the stay at home order for the city that is due to expire this Friday, May 8th.

The Denver Post reports that the city will instead slowly begin to relax restrictions that have been in place for over a month.

Residents of Denver will also have to wear facial coverings in public starting this Wednesday, May 6th.

Residents and employees will be required to wear face coverings while inside of, or waiting in line to enter, certain businesses, facilities or locations.

These include any retail or commercial business, at a bus stop or facilities offering health care services.

Other parts of Colorado without local extensions to the stay at home order entered the next step in the Safer at Home phase today. Starting today, offices can reopen at 50% reduced in-person staffing and child care facilities can also expand or reopen if they are following best practices.

Starting this morning, (Monday, May 4th) Clinica Family Health is offering COVID-19 testing to symptomatic members of the general public, not just Clinica patients. The testing site is located at 1735. S. Public Road in Lafayette. Tests are available Monday through Friday, 9am to noon. No appointment is needed. Testing is available to anyone currently experiencing coronavirus-type symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and who meets the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) criteria for testing: including health care workers with flu-like symptoms, those over 65 with symptoms and those with underlying conditions who have symptoms. More information is available at clinica.org

Residents of Denver will soon be required to wear face masks or face coverings in public. The Denverite reports that on a zoom call with local officials on Thursday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock indicated that he will soon issue an executive order on the issue.

During yesterday’s call Hancock said people will be able to comply by either wearing a face mask or a face coverings, like a bandanna. People who can’t wear masks due to health reasons would be exempt from the order.

This comes after Boulder City Council this week passed an ordinance requiring face coverings. The measure will require customers and clients of businesses to cover their mouths and noses in workplaces and spaces of “public accommodation” with a mask or other face covering such as a bandana.

Governor Polis signed several executive orders late Thursday, April 30th, related to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Denver Post reports that one order cuts government spending in the state by more than $228 million.

The cuts don’t impact salaries or cause layoffs, rather they seek to minimize travel for conferences and could lead to some projects being delayed.

The other executive orders limit evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs during the pandemic.

Governor Polis has not supported a rent freeze despite a call from Denver City Council and growing numbers of non- profits to enact one. The executive order instead gives increased protections to renters including stopping landlords from assessing fees for nonpayment; directing landlords to notify tenants in writing of their federal eviction and foreclosure protections, and it directs state agencies to work with property owners and landlords on creating new agreements to allow tenants additional time to repay rent.

Another executive orders signed last night increases government funding for residential nursing homes to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

A large homeless encampment in Five Points in Denver was cleared on Thursday, April 30th, despite guidance from the Center for Disease control that says not to break up camps as that disperses people who are potentially infected with COVID-19 into the community and severs their ties with service providers.

The Denverite reports that the city said they were concerned that the public right of way was being blocked and that health and safety was being undermined as the area became increasingly hazardous.

At least 200 people experiencing homelessness in Denver have tested positive for COVID-19, including some at the recently opened shelter for men at the National Western Center’s Hall of Education.

Advocates for the homeless and other groups including the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado had called for the cleanup to be cancelled as a matter of public health and human dignity.

They’re calling on Denver city officials to prioritize finding housing for those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figures released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Wednesday, April 29th, show that the JBS meat packing plant in Greeley is one of Colorado’s largest confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks.

245 workers at the plant have tested positive for COVID-19 and 6 have died of the disease.

This week Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to keep meatpacking plants in the U.S. open during the coronavirus pandemic.

The plant in Greeley reopened last Friday after being closed for 9 days for cleaning and restructuring to allow for more distancing between workers.

Last week the union representing the workers received a cease and desist letter from JBS over their speaking out to the media about worker safety.
Dustin Hibbs, a worker at the plant, told KGNU  there are not enough measures in place to protect workers.

He says that when workers go in they are given a mask and hand sanitizer, however, on the meat processing floor, Hibbs says workers are in close proximity to each other.

“There’s maybe 10 or 12 stations side by side to each other, and we have to work in those stations as the meat goes by and we bump shoulders, we bump arms and there’s no social distance on the floor which is a concern.”

Speaking Wednesday afternoon, April 28th, Governor Jared Polis expanded on what the new safer at home phase looks like for Colorado.

He said that we can expect to see a significant expansion in testing capacity for COVID 19. There should be  5000 tests a day happening in early May, increasing to 8,500 tests a day towards the end of May. That is up from the approximately 2000 tests per day that are currently happening in Colorado.

Governor Polis says testing will include targeting testing of people who are asymptomatic but who are working and in contact with vulnerable people, for example, workers in residential nursing homes.

Testing is currently being done across the state at hospitals, at community sites and at mobile state run test sites. Governor Polis says this will continue as will partnership with private entities like this week’s pop up testing site on the Auraria campus in Denver done in partnership with King Soopers pharmacy.

Boulder is expected to ease stay-at-home restrictions on May 9th, but the use of face coverings will be required inside local businesses. Boulder City Council approved the emergency ordinance Tuesday night, April 28th, with the support of local health officials trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Find the full story here.

As health experts try to predict the severity and length of the coronavirus pandemic, economists try to predict how local governments will fare.

Boulder City Council heard from Rich Wobbekind with the CU Leeds School of Business on Tuesday, April 28th. While complete data for the first quarter of 2020 won’t be available for a few more days, Wobbekind said that prior to the pandemic, Colorado had the nation’s third-lowest unemployment rate. Now its 31st at 10-point-seven percent, with 300-thousand unemployment claims in the past five weeks and more expected.

Optimistically, he noted that Colorado was on strong economic footing prior to the COVID-19 crisis, but its heavy reliance on hospitality and tourism jobs could make recovery painful. He also worries about how willing some people may be to resume normal activities that feed the economy.
On a side note, Wobbekind’s presentation showed that in Colorado, more women than men are filing unemployment claims.

The state has received more than $10 million from the federal government to fun epidemiological work and lab testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the money is coming from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act.

The money was received by the state last week and will be spread over a two year period. It will go toward contact tracing and outbreak response especially in high-risk settings and among high-risk populations.  It will also help strengthen and enhance laboratory testing.

Testing and contact tracing have been a challenge for the state with supplies like swabs and test kits being in short supply. Currently, there is a capacity of 2000 tests per day for the entire state. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has said that he would like to see 1000 tests a day done in the city before he considers loosening current stay at home orders.

Governor Jared Polis announced Monday, April 27th, that Colorado is joining other Western states in a regional pact that seeks to coordinate approaches to lifting stay at home orders.

The other states who are part of the Western States Pact are California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada. The governors of all these states are Democrats.

The Denver Post reports that the pact operates under three principles: that health concerns come first; that health outcomes and science, not politics, will guide decisions; and that the states are more effective when working together.

Similar pacts have been made in other regions like the Mid-West and North East.

Many public health and government officials say a regional approach is needed due to interstate travel and commerce.

Free COVID 19 drive-thru testing is being offered at the Auraria campus in Denver this week (April 27th – May 1st).

The tests will be self-administered in people’s cars and will be happening between 10am and 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. Approximately 500 people will be tested.

The testing is a partnership between the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center and King Soopers pharmacy.

People must register in advance at krogerhealth.com/covidtesting, where a virtual screening tool based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines will be used to determine eligibility for testing.

Testing remains an issue in Colorado. Last week Denver mayor Michael Hancock said that he would like to see 1000 people tested a day in the city before he lifts the stay at home order, which is currently expected to expire on May 8th.

This week, state lawmakers and budget writers will start reviewing recommendations for potential spending cuts across all agencies. The Colorado Sun reports that the Governor’s budget office is projecting lost revenue of $3 billion for the current fiscal year and the next.

The possible cuts could be as much as 20 percent forcing hard choices for legislators that will impact most Colorado families. The challenge facing lawmakers is that the impact of lower tax revenues is expected to continue for many years to come.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced Friday morning, April 24th, that he was extending the city’s stay at home order until May 8th, almost two weeks after the state’s stay at home order expires.

Mayor Hancock said that he made the decision after looking at the data on infections and hospitalizations in the city.

He said that while they were flattening the curve, Denver’s specific metrics of new infections, new hospitalization rates and mortality rates suggest that Denver was not out of the woods.

He said the city needs more time to scale up testing and tracing capacity and to provide residents and businesses the type of specific guidance they’re asking for.

Mayor Hancock emphasized during a press conference today that the Governor’s guidance has been helpful for the entire state.

He said that all elected leaders are looking at the situation and making decisions that are best for their own communities.

A major component of Denver’s decision to extend the stay at home order is testing.

Public Health Executive Director Bob McDonald said today that the city is working on getting a workforce in place to provide citywide testing.

This would include 100 people who will be trained in the next few weeks. Mayor Hancock said today he wants to ramp up testing to 1,000 tests a day.

Denver Health will offer tests, as will sites throughout the city and metro area, within the next two and a half weeks.

How the pandemic is impacting those experiencing homelessness is still a major concern.

Advocates for the homeless say a sweep is scheduled to take place on April 30th of a camp in the Five Points area. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless says that shelters are nearly at capacity.

Britta Fisher, Chief Housing Officer for Denver, said today that the city is still working on providing shelter and facilities for those experiencing homelessness, including building more shelter space, sourcing hotel and motel rooms as well as providing other measures like expanded toilet and handwashing facilities.

Boulder County and Jefferson County announced Friday, April 24th, that they were also extending their stay at home orders until May 8th.

The City of Boulder says Most City buildings and facilities will remain closed through June 1.

Boulder County announced they will continue to keep buildings closed to the public through May 31st, with limited exceptions.

Those include limited public access to the Boulder County Center, the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters and the Treasurer’s Office in Boulder. Other exceptions include county employees who are performing in-the-field activities.

Boulder County will continue to provide online and phone services for county programs and services that do not require in-person interactions.

The Community Planning and Permitting Department has a new online application system allowing staff to accept planning and permitting applications online.

Another important exception is for those who are in an unsafe situation. You are encouraged to leave your homes in order to get help or to call for assistance.

The latest public health order for Colorado, mandating that workers at critical businesses wear personal protective equipment while on the job, takes effect today, April 23rd. Public Health Order 20 26 follows an executive order of a similar nature that Governor Jared Polis signed into action last Friday. The mandate requires employees of essential businesses to wear face coverings and gloves, especially if they work in close contact with each other or with the general public. Employees who handle food also must wear masks, even if they do not closely interact with customers or other employees.

The order encourages employers to support their workers by providing face coverings, and making accommodations for people to continue some form of work even if they cannot wear a mask for some reason. Additionally, workers in long-term care facilities and non-resident visitors must also wear masks.

Non-healthcare employees should wear non-medical masks, and use gloves in an efficient manner, so as to leave medical-grade equipment for hospitals. Currently, Colorado is not over capacity for personal protective equipment, but due to the urgency of the current situation, the state distributes new shipments of PPE to healthcare centers as soon as they arrive. Sarah Tuneberg, director for the state’s Innovation Response Team, emphasized in a press call today the difficulty of obtaining PPE in the first place, as states compete in bidding wars against one another, the federal government and even other countries.

The public health order is in place until May 17, though it may be extended, changed or revoked.

Data on coronavirus-related deaths will soon paint a more accurate picture of the impact of COVID-19 on the state. Probable deaths – people who did not officially test positive for the virus, but whose death certificate lists COVID-19 or a related cause – have not previously been included in data, but will soon be integrated.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment expects the statewide death count to rise by about one hundred and thirty as a result of this change. Increases in targeted testing efforts will also result in higher COVID-19 case numbers, though experts estimate that statistics will continue to underestimate the number of cases occurring. Neither the increase in death data nor the increase in case data necessarily indicate changes in the virus’ trend, but rather indicate more effective monitoring and reporting systems.

Additionally, death data going forward will be registered in the state’s database under the day the death occurred. So far, deaths have been counted based on the reported date, which may not be the same day as the death itself.

The Colorado Department of Labor says that they have received more than 30,000 claims since Monday, April 20th, which is when they launched a new online application to begin taking claims from self-employed, gig workers and those otherwise not eligible for regular unemployment due to COVID-19.

Speaking Wednesday, April 22nd, Governor Jared Polis gave more details on the “safer at home phase” that begins Monday, April 27.

Personal service providers, like hair salons, will be able to reopen on April 27, but measures must be in place, for example, hairstylists must wear masks. Child care can restart on April 27.

Retailers can offer curbside pickup and then they will have the option to open May 1, Polis said, as long as they have social-distancing policies in place. Offices can reopen the following Monday, May 4, he said, although he added telecommuting should be maximized as much as possible, particularly with older employees. Restaurants and bars will stay closed initially but can continue to offer take out and they may be allowed to open in mid-May.

The Governor said people should still continue to stay at home except when you need to leave to go to work or get groceries. For those over 65 or with an underlying medical condition, stay at home except when absolutely necessary.

Governor Polis said that testing and containment has been a major focus of the state’s response, but he says it’s only one part of a four-part strategy including social distancing, additional protections for the most vulnerable and wearing face masks in public.

More than a week ago, the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley announced that it was investing more than $1 million dollars in COVID – 19 testing kits for its employees. But Denver7 is reporting that promises by the company to provide testing have not been kept. Informed sources have said testing was stopped shortly after it started.

The state reports that at least 100 employees at the plant have tested positive for the disease, with four having died and two currently on ventilators.

The outbreak at the JBS facility attracted national attention on April 10 when Vice President Pence spoke about concerns during a White House briefing.

The state department of public health announced a two-week closure of the plant, but it is set to reopen this Friday.

Sylvia Martinez a spokesperson for Latinos Unidos of Greeley said that they can only assume the reason testing was stopped was that the company does not want the number to come out which would be bad PR. The state department of health, the Weld County department and JBS did not respond to the station’ request for information.

On Monday, April 20th, Governor Jared Polis announced plans for next week after the current stay at home order expires. He said, the state will now move to a “safer at home” phase.

There will be a gradual reopening of retail stores and personal services, such as salons, tattoo parlors, and dental offices, however this will only happen with strict social distancing precautions in place.

More details about the types of businesses that can reopen will be released by state officials later this week.

People are still being asked to practice social distancing and wear face masks while outside their homes.

Vulnerable populations, such as those over the age of 60 and with preexisting conditions, should continue to stay home, said the Governor.

In-person classes have been formally suspended for all K-12 schools through the remainder of the school year, although several large school districts, including Denver Public Schools, had already made that decision.

Health officials say there has been a leveling off of hospital admissions for COVID-19.

On Sunday, April 19th, protesters against the stay-at home restrictions gathered at the state capitol. Despite statewide guidelines to engage in social distancing and wear masks many failed to abide.

The Colorado Independent reports there were about 300 at the rally which brought together a range of people who defy scientific consensus, from anti-vaxxers to supporters of QAnon – a conspiracy theory that posits Washington elites are working against President Trump.

A reporter for Westword tweeted a picture yesterday of healthcare workers from a Denver area hospital standing in the crosswalk near the capitol temporarily blocking cars involved in the protest.

On Saturday, April 18th, Colorado Governor Jared Polis hinted that the state remains on track to reopen some parts of its economy a week from today after his statewide stay-at-home order expires.

The Governor tweeted that by keeping distance from each other, and wearing masks as we reopen from April 27th throughout May, we can avoid mass deaths that exceed medical capacity and devastating closure.

While the state’s stay-at-home order expires in a week, the city of Denver’s order is scheduled to end at the end of April.

Denver 7 reports that Polis is expected today to lay out a plan to reopen the state’s economy.

Last week the governor laid out a general outline with three phases: the first being the urgent portion we are now in; the second being a period of stabilization with testing; and the third would be the lifting of all restrictions.

In Boulder County Chana Goussetis – the spokesperson for the Public Health Department, emphasized that a key part of reaching the next step toward reopening is more widespread availability of testing. However, that’s still an unmet need and they still don’t know when that ability will be sufficient.

Goussetis told the Daily Camera that they have been working for weeks and weeks to identify who has tests, how many they have, and who is being tested. But what they see is very little supply mostly related to lack of swabs and the viral medium for the tests.

The plan, Goussetis said, is to have hospitals and clinics have testing available so residents can go to a hospital or their primary caregiver to be tested if they are symptomatic.

A motion was filed in Denver court the morning of Friday, April17th, calling for an immediate hearing in a lawsuit that would require hotel and motel owners in the state to open rooms for those experiencing homelessness during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Plaintiffs in the suit include different advocacy groups from around the Front Range including Denver Homeless Out Loud.

Friday’s motion says that since the plaintiffs filed the original suit on April 1, they have been contacted by various motel and hotel owners who say they are being prevented from offering accommodation to the homeless by local authorities. The suit is calling on the state health department to issue a state wide directive.

Protests are planned for this Sunday, April 19th, at the State Capitol in Denver with libertarian groups calling for an end to the stay at home orders.

The Denver Post reports that one event is called operation gridlock. According to a Facebook page for the event, it is co-hosted by the Libertarian party of El Paso. The event is asking people to drive to the Capitol in Denver and gridlock the roads in protest to the mandatory lockdowns. The page describes the stay at home orders as a violation of constitutional rights.

Another protest planned for later on Sunday is being organized by several local libertarian groups.

The Facebook page for that event says people will stand 6 feet apart and wear masks for everyone’s safety. They are calling for everything to open now.

The stay at home order started March 26, 2020 and lasts through April 26, 2020, however those orders may be extended or changed.

Earlier this week Governor Polis said that Coloradoans should expect some type of social distancing for months to come.

Yesterday state health officials said their goal is to increase testing, hinting that stay at home orders won’t be lifted until extensive testing is achieved throughout the state and the positive case count moves from a plateau into a decline.

he Boulder County Public Health Department has identified a disproportionate number of Latinx residents that have tested positive or probable for the novel coronavirus.

The Daily Camera reports that nearly 14% of the Boulder County population are Hispanic/Latinx but nearly one third account for those who have been hospitalized during their covid-19 illness.

These disparities in Boulder County are greater than the disparities statewide where Hispanic/Latinx represent about 22% of the population and over 28% of covid-19 cases.

These numbers released Thursday is the first analysis of the coronavirus’s impact on the county’s population by race/ethnicity.

About 79% of the cases in Boulder County have a known race and ethnicity which is slightly higher than the state’s 75% of the reported cases.

The city of Aurora announced Wednesday, April 15th, that it will furlough 576 of its employees, in anticipation of a decreased budget as a result of the pandemic.

The Aurora Sentinel reports that most of the employees are seasonal or temporary workers who remain on payroll until April 25, but the city has yet to set an end date for the furloughs. The city’s budget is largely funded through sales taxes, but as a result of stay at home orders to limit shoppers, and the closure of non-essential businesses, the city anticipates coming up six percent short of its budgetary goals.

Aurora is by no means the only city to consider or implement furloughs in response to the pandemic’s economic impact. CBS Denver reported that the city of Boulder announced Tuesday that it will furlough 737 employees, effective this Sunday. Most of those are also seasonal or temporary workers, though it includes 175 of the city’s standard employees. And last week the city of Broomfield announced it will furlough 235 employees, beginning on April 21. The city of Denver has yet to announce any furloughs, though Mayor Michael Hancock has said that it remains an option if necessary.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, public transportation in and around the Denver metro area will significantly decrease starting this Sunday, April 19th. The Regional Transportation District, or RTD, announced the specifics of service changes today, citing fewer riders as a result of the statewide stay at home orders. Many service lines will operate with so-called weekend frequency, which is usually about half as often as weekday frequency. In Boulder, lines with reduced frequency include the 205, 225, Bound, Dash, Skip, Jump, and Flatiron Flyer buses.

A few bus routes, including the 209 and 236, will be suspended temporarily, while some operations around the region, including the A Line light rail to DIA, will continue to run on normal schedules. The transit agency noted in a press release that it will reevaluate its services as ridership demands change.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment says there were more than 104,000 new unemployment claims filed the week ending April 11. This is 55,000 more than the week prior.

The total number of new claims for unemployment assistance in the state over the past four weeks is not more than 231,000.

The state labor department identified the industries where they’re seeing the most claims.

The accommodation and food services sector has seen more than 21,000 claims. Healthcare and Social Service has seen nearly 9,800 claims and the Retail industry has 7,400 claims.

Tuesday evening, April 14th, speaking at Boulder City Council meeting, local health officials gave council members an update on local numbers related to the COVID 19 crisis.

Boulder County Public Health Director Jeff Zayach said the death toll from COVID-19 in Boulder County, as of Tuesday, was 15, and added that 290 people have tested positive.

Zayach says that they know there are more people in the community who are positive that have not been tested, so officials expect to see more cases and then they would want to do more quarantine to hold down contact so those cases don’t end up in the hospital.

Governor Jared Polis extended Colorado’s stay-at-home order through the end of April, and he emphasized how important social-distancing will be in the next two weeks.

Even though new infections of COVID-19 have not stabilized, the number of coronavirus tests analyzed each day by commercial labs in the U.S. plummeted by more than 30 percent over the past week. Dr. Robert Vissers leads Boulder Community Hospital and said two-hours tests are starting to arrive at BCH.

Dr. Vissers said that they only received 30 test kits and because there is a limited supply. He added that the tests are being used where they need an immediate answer, for example, a woman coming in labor or a critically ill patient. He added that the hospital is hoping to get a larger shipment of tests later this week.

Statewide more than 39,500 people have been tested for the novel Coronavirus. 329 people in the state have died.

On Tuesday, April 14th, Longmont’s City Council learned they are looking at a shortfall of over $15 million dollars. The city has begun to look at possible solutions including tapping unspent money carried over from 2019 and some unappropriated balances.

Longmont city manager, Harold Dominguez, told the council last night that lost revenues are a significant financial issue for local governments.

The Times Call reports that a number of municipalities have already announced temporary staff cut backs including Broomfield and Nederland.

Officials in Denver say that furlough days for city employees could be used to cut costs until the crisis is over. The city is preparing to lose $180 million as it anticipates a 12 percent drop in tax revenue. The city’s spokesperson for the emergency Joint Information Center said in an email to Colorado Politics that right now they are not implementing furloughs, but they would be evaluated.

The Boulder Valley School District got its first look at budget scenarios for the coming school year. The Daily Camera reports that the board is facing the possibility of cuts, if the state reduces funding due to coronavirus shutdowns.

The state legislature has been suspended until the middle of next month, and by then the district’s Chief Financial Officer said they will have a much better idea of where things stand.

If the state were to cut the district’s budget by as much as 5 percent, Boulder Valley would have to cut nearly $4 million in its budget.

State health officials said Tuesday, April 14th, the number of coronavirus cases in Colorado may be plateauing. Speaking to reporters today, the state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said that over the next couple days the state will be able to determine whether the level of social distancing that has taken place in Colorado is enough to lead to a decrease in the daily case count.

Right now it appears that the curve has been flattened in terms of the number of people admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

Scott Bookman, the state’s incident commander for COVID-19, said today that the volume of patients seem to be relatively flat. He added that the state is not seeing exponential growth.

This is welcome news for medical providers in the state who have been scrambling to access enough personal protective equipment for front line medical staff.

The Denver Post reports the state is still continuing construction on emergency hospitals at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver and the Budweiser Event Center in Loveland. Scott Bookman said today that they may decide to scale back if the additional space is not needed.

The City of Boulder announced Tuesday, April 14th, it will furlough 737 employees as a result of the economic impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.

In a statement today, the city said these would be 175 standard employees and 562 seasonal and temporary workers.

Unpaid administrative leave for the furloughed employees will begin on April 20 and continue through June 28.  Decisions to recall staff to active service, extend the furlough, or layoff staff will be made by June 1.
City Manager Jane Brautigam said in a statement today that while the city is working to significantly reduce costs, the reality is that the financial impact requires immediate furloughs and may require future layoffs.

The town of Nederland announced this week that it is putting three town employees on temporary unpaid leave.

While on furlough, employees may be eligible for unemployment assistance.

The city of Boulder says it anticipates it will lose at least $28 million in revenue as a result of the pandemic. That amounts to about 10% of the city’s annual revenue. The City of Denver is expected to lose an estimated $180 million this year.

The Denver Post reports that more than 127,000 Coloradans filed unemployment claims between March 8-28.  That’s almost 4% of Colorado’s entire workforce.

It’s likely that many more thousands of workers have filed for unemployment assistance since March 28 as the pandemic impacts every aspect of the economy.

People can find information on how to file for unemployment assistance at coworkforce.com 

On Monday evening, April 13th, the Denver City Council unanimously passed a proclamation urging Colorado Governor Jared Polis to freeze rent payments for anyone unable to pay because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Denverite reports that The letter asks Polis “to use the full legal extent of his emergency powers to impose an immediate moratorium on residential and small business commercial rent payments for those unable to pay” through no fault of their own as thousands of city resident are impacted by the pandemic.

Council members also asked Denver’s congressional delegates and President Donald Trump to freeze mortgage payments for people who were affected.

Governor Polis has said that he does not support freezing rents, rather he’s asking cities to implement other measures like increasing rent subsidies.

Speaking Monday, April 13th, Governor Jared Polis said that 304 people in Colorado have died from the novel Corona Virus. Two people who have died were employees at the JBS meat packing plant in Greeley. The union representing workers there say more than 50 of the nearly 6,000 employees at the plant have tested positive. JBS announced today that they will close the Greeley facility until April 24 due to the outbreak.

The company has been criticized by workers for not providing protective equipment or enacting social distancing measures to deal with the spread of the virus. Governor Polis said today the company is working with state and local health officials on testing and containment.

Governor Polis said today that members of the National Guard will be deployed to help with testing of workers at JBS.

On Friday, April 10th, the Denver Public Health Department released data that shows black residents in the city have been impacted by COVID-19 at higher rates than whites or Latinx residents.

It is important to note the small size of sampling numbers, but Denver’s black population has been represented at higher numbers of total infections, hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus.

Thirteen percent of those with confirmed infections in Denver have been black, while the city’s black population is only 8%.

Infection rates of whites and the Hispanic or Latinx population in Denver are less than their proportionate shares of residents. Rates of hospitalization and deaths show the same disproportionate effects on blacks.

State Representative Leslie Herod, a Democrat of Northeast Denver – has been calling on the state to release more data detailing the race of people testing positive for COVID-19 and wants the state to provide a response focusing on people of color.

The Denver Post reports that the initial data from Denver reflects much of what has been seen in other cities like Detroit and Milwaukee.

On Thursday, April 9th, Governor Polis and the state’s agricultural commissioner wrote to the US Department of Agriculture requesting federal funds to help Colorado agriculture that has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The letter asks for federal funds to provide immediate relief to independent local food producers impacted by the crisis. It says federal money should be invested in Colorado agriculture as it is a vital part of the food system.

At the Boulder City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 7th, concern was raised about the number of people visiting open space and mountain parks. City staff monitoring the trails reported that only 25 to 30 percent of users were wearing recommended masks.

The city’s Open Space Department is considering several options to reduce the number of visitors. They include limiting parking capacity at trailheads; weekend closures of targeted locations when the weather is nice and requiring one-way directional travel on several popular trails. Boulder City Council did not take action on those recommendations during the meeting.

You can find KGNU’s full coverage of the meeting here.

On Monday evening, April 6th, Governor Jared Polis addressed the state and said he was extending the current stay at home order for 2 weeks. The order was set to expire on April 11 and now remains in effect until at least April 26.

“If there’s any way to safely end it sooner I will,” said Polis, and he added that if Coloradoans aren’t staying at home and the numbers of dead and dying continue to pile up, the stay at home order could be extended for longer.

On Monday evening, April 6th, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced that he was extended the city’s stay at home order until April 30.

The Denver order has been in effect since March 24th and was also set to expire on April 11th.

On Monday, Hancock thanked Denver residents for staying home and cited current data and advice from experts about the spread of COVID-19. He added that extending the stay at home order would protect the health of as many people as possible.

The Denverite reports that to date the city has issued 14 citations for violations of the stay at home order, issued more than 1700 warnings and made over 6000 contacts with businesses and residents over compliance.

There are over 760 confirmed cases and 20 fatalities as a result of COVID 19 in Denver alone.

Statewide there are more than 5100 cases and 150 people have died. But public health officials estimate that between 17 and 18 thousand people in Colorado actually have COVID-19.

On Sunday, April 5th, Colorado health officials finalized guidelines for who should receive care – including ventilators – if a surge of coronavirus patients overwhelms hospitals.

The guidelines provide that triage teams with four-members would make decisions. The triage teams would comprise an ethics or palliative care expert; a critical care doctor; a nurse; and a hospital leader. Those teams would not include a patient’s immediate medical caregivers.

The Denver Post reports that the teams will rank patients based upon a combination of the severity of their symptoms, any chronic illness and how long they’re likely to survive.

If some patients rank equally then care would be prioritized for children, health care workers and first responders. Then the teams would weigh whether patients were pregnant or sole caregivers – and how many years of life could be saved.

Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Director of the state Department of Public Health and Environment, said that they hope they don’t have to use the crisis-of-care standards.  But she added that COVID–19 has been spreading quickly and it could overwhelm the hospital system and intensive care units.

Sunday, April 5th, state officials also made public the projections of infections, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus that have been given to the governor.  The projections vary significantly.  If people don’t engage in physical distancing, there could be as many as 33,000 deaths by June 1st, but alternatively, fatalities could reach less than 400 by that date should social distancing be maintained.

Infections range from a high of nearly a million by May 7th, or a low of about 40,000 by November.

Officials said that they are using the projections to guide their decision making.  The team making the projections includes experts from the CU School of Medicine, CU Boulder and Denver.

Speaking Friday, April 3rd, Governor Jared Polis donned a cloth face mask as he urged Coloradoans to wear them when they go outdoors for essential activities like grocery shopping. “We’re asking all Coloradoans to wear non-medical cloth face masks.”

The Governor said that at this point a cloth face mask or scarf should be part of everybody’s personal hygiene practices. Governor Polis said that masks can be made from old t-shirts or other cloth that people have at home. He said masks must cover your mouth and cover your nose and must be washed frequently. Governor Polis that combining handwashing with wearing a face covering will help in reducing the spread of the virus. Governor Polis today reiterated that medical supply masks must be reserved for medical workers, but encouraged the widespread use of cloth face masks for the general public.

State public health officials say that even if you wear a mask, you should still practice social distancing. Information on how to make a home-made mask is available at www.coloradomaskproject.com

Colorado will receive about $285 million from the Federal Transit Administration to support local transit in the COVID-19 crisis. Westword reports that the bulk of the money, $232 million, will go to Denver’s Regional Transportation District. RTD will cut service significantly on April 19 due to the drastic fall in ridership in recent weeks. The federal money can be used for any operations costs associated with COVID-19.

The current statewide stay at home order is in effect until April 11. On Tuesday, March 31st, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said he will extend the city’s stay-at-home order through April 30.

Some Colorado businesses have received citations for remaining open in defiance of the order.The Denver Post reports that Hobby Lobby stores in Denver shut down this week after being cited by city inspectors for violating the order.On Wednesday, April 1st, the state’s attorney general’s office directed the founder and chief executive officer of Hobby Lobby to close all of its stores in the state. The Post reports that The Appliance Factory Mattress Kingdom store remains open despite repeated citations. Citations can result in a $999 fine or jail time.

COVID-19 is present in 4 Boulder County senior living facilities. The Daily Camera reports that three residents of The Bridge at Longmont have tested positive for COVID-19 and all are hospitalized – one is in intensive care, while two more are listed as stable.

Two residents of the Frasier senior residential facility in Boulder have tested positive for COVID-19, but they reportedly have recovered and are doing well.

One resident of Balfour Cherrywood Village in Louisville has also tested positive and three people who live or work at Boulder Manor have tested positive as well.

Tuesday, March 31st, the Denver City Council passed three bills to help the residents get through the pandemic.  A release from the city says that 13.5 million dollars will be allocated – with 10 million going to fund for services and supplies like PPE, overtime pay for personnel, and the purchase of beds and medical equipment and 3.5 million dollars will go to help businesses support their employees. A third bill will allow the city to donate surplus computers to a group called PCs for People to be used by low-income families.

Also Tuesday, Governor Jared Polis sent a letter urging the federal government to automatically extend work authorizations for all Deferred Action Childhood Arrival recipients set to expire this year.

The policy started in the Obama administration, allows eligible immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children to receive a renewable two-year authorization to work and study. In his letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Polis said that the extension of DACA would provide some needed stability to the state’s businesses and residents who benefit from the program.

On Monday, March 30th the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) announced the Center is working with communities across the state to prepare for an expected major increase in the need for intensive care unit (ICU) beds as a result of COVID-19.

According to a press release, “The SEOC is partnering with local public health organizations, health care facilities, the Colorado Hospital Association, and federal and state agencies to prepare for a potential medical surge by:

Identifying all current hospital beds in the state by type of care.
Helping health care facilities with plans to free up ICU beds and transfer patients.
Identifying and preparing alternative care sites that could be repurposed to provide medical care.
Identifying and redeploying additional ventilators to areas of need with the goal of increasing ICU bed capacity.
Current estimates are that Colorado has 1,849 ICU beds across the state. The state’s goal is to add 1,000 beds by May, and to add another 5,000 by the summer.

In the meantime, each health care facility is working to move patients out of ICUs, when possible, into acute care beds and lower-needs beds in order to prepare for increased demand in ICU settings.”

More information on how local and state hospitals are preparing for a surge in cases of COVID-19 here.

This week the NAACP Boulder County Branch sent a letter to the Boulder City Manager voicing concern over lack of bathrooms and hand-washing stations near local homeless shelters, lack of capacity at shelters resulting in people being turned away, lack of day shelters and how the Severe Weather Shelter could increase capacity for housing but is not being used unless weather criteria is met. The NAACP letter encouraged the city of Boulder to keep shelters open everyday for the duration of the pandemic.

On Friday, March 27th the Boulder Director of Housing and Human Services announced the Boulder’s COVID-19 Recovery Center (CRC), an operation that offers COVID-19 testing, along with limited shelter and care for unhoused individuals showing sign of COVID-19 illness, is expanding the CRC service. The expansion includes additional transportation from shelters, where symptomatic persons are first screened, to the CRC in East Boulder. The Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and Bridge House are also working in conjunction with the city to ensure bed space is optimized.

In addition, the city is announcing, “The Severe Weather Shelter facility on 30th Street in Boulder will be open every day from April 1st, 10:00am to 2:00pm, for facility access that will include hand washing, bathroom facilities and limited shower availability.  Bridge House will also be conducting an additional thorough cleaning each day in order to support this service. To address the concern of sheltering generally during this public health emergency, SWS shelter will be open every night through the end of April.”

Official CDPHE Press Release on the Colorado Stay-at-Home Order:

In accordance with Governor Jared Polis’ executive order and because the transmission of COVID-19 is widespread throughout the state, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) enacted a public health order requiring Coloradans to stay at home, except to do limited necessary activities as outlined in the order. The order is intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, saving people in Colorado from severe illness and death. The order minimizes contact between people, limiting exposure to the virus.

Colorado must act now to “flatten the curve” of increased cases, which will help hospitals to prepare for the expected surge of COVID-19 patients. Based on global COVID-19 rates of hospitalization and death, public health experts predict that without measures like the stay-home order, Colorado hospitals will be unable to handle the surge of sick people, and many in the state could die. Even with these extreme measures, hospitals likely will reach their maximum capacity to care for people with severe symptoms. The stay-at-home order aims to slow the rate of spread of the virus, giving our health care and emergency management systems additional time to grow capacity. Each and every person in Colorado plays a part in slowing the spread of the virus.

The public health order requires people in Colorado to stay at home, except when doing necessary activities including:

  • Obtaining food, medicine, other household supplies.
  • Going to and from work if you are a critical employee (Please see list of critical businesses below).
  • Seeking medical care.
  • Caring for family, household members, and animals.
  • Caring for a vulnerable person in another location.
  • Participating in outdoor recreation at a legally-mandated safe distance of six feet or more from other people and by your home.

The order went into effect at 6 a.m. on March 26, 2020, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on April 11, 2020. The order may be changed or extended.

“The sacrifices that Coloradans are making will pay off in the long run,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “It will take everyone acting together to slow the spread of the illness to a level that our health care systems can absorb, but countless lives will be saved through these measures.”

The critical workplaces that are exempt include:

  • Health care operations.
  • Critical infrastructure, including utilities, fuel supply and transmission, public water, telecommunications, transportation, hotels, organizations that provide for disadvantaged people, and food supply chain.
  • Critical manufacturing, including food, beverages, chemicals, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, agriculture.
  • Critical retail, including grocery stores, liquor stores, farms, gas stations, restaurants and bars for takeout/delivery, marijuana dispensaries (only for medical or curbside delivery), hardware stores.
  • Critical services, including trash and recycling, mail, shipping, laundromats, child care, building cleaning and maintenance, auto supply and repair, warehouses/distribution, funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries, animal shelters and rescues.
  • News media.
  • Financial institutions.
  • Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations.
  • Construction.
  • Defense.
  • Public safety services like law enforcement, fire prevention and response, EMTs, security, disinfection, cleaning, building code enforcement, snow removal, auto repair.
  • Vendors that provide critical services or products including logistics, child care, tech support, or contractors with critical government services.
  • K-12 public and private schools for the purpose of providing meals, housing, facilitating or providing materials for distance learning and providing other essential services to students.
  • Postsecondary institutions including private and public colleges and universities for the purpose of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions.
  • Pastoral services for individuals who are in crisis or in-need of end-of-life services.
  • Houses of worship may remain open, but must practice social distancing or use electronic platforms.
  • Professional services, such as legal, title companies, or accounting services, real estate appraisals and transactions.

All services included in the public health order are subject to social distancing requirements and are still encouraged to implement telework options and staggered schedules when possible. Businesses that have temporarily closed under the order can continue Minimum Basic Operations to protect assets.

To read the latest version of the public health order, click here. To see frequently asked questions, click here.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

On Thursday, March 26th, in partnership with Mile High United Way, the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center activated 2-1-1 Colorado to connect Coloradans with human service resources statewide. Coloradans can reach 2-1-1 Colorado online at 211Colorado.org, by dialing 2-1-1 or texting your Zip Code to 898-211.

2-1-1 Colorado is a confidential and multilingual service connecting people across the State of Colorado to vital resources in their local community. 2-1-1 serves as one central location where people can access over 7,500 health and human service resources.

2-1-1 provides navigation services to resources such as:

  • Housing, including shelters and transitional services.
  • Rent and utility assistance.
  • Applying for SNAP benefits by phone.
  • Childcare.
  • Food/meals.
  • Transportation.
  • Clothing/personal/household needs.
  • Mental health and substance use disorders.
  • Employment.
  • Education.
  • Medical clinics.
  • Dental clinic.
  • Other government/economic services.

2-1-1 will work in conjunction with The Colorado Health Emergency Line for the Public (CO HELP), a toll-free hotline for the latest public health information. If Coloradans are looking for general information about COVID-19, such as the number of cases in Colorado, the list of symptoms, or how you can protect yourself, they can call CO HELP by dialing 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911.

On Wednesday evening, March 25th, Governor Jared Polis issued a stay at home order for the entire state that goes into effect Thursday March 26th at 6am. Polis said that the order comes because despite previous orders on social isolation, people in the state are not taking enough measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Read the full order here. Watch the press conference here.

On Wednesday, March 25th, Boulder County Public Health (in coordination with public health departments for Adams, Arapaho, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties) instituted Stay at Home Order, effective March 26 at 8 a.m. The order requires all individuals anywhere in Boulder County to stay at home (also known as shelter in place) except for certain defined essential activities, work, and services. The order is in place until April 17, 2020, although it’s possible it may be extended.

A full and updated description of the Boulder County Stay at Home Order can be found here.

Tuesday, March 24th officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) urged Coloradans not to engage in open burning activities during the current COVID-19 response.

According to the CDPHE press release, “The COVID-19 virus poses a particular threat to individuals with a history of heart or respiratory illness. Smoke from open burns could put a strain on already vulnerable populations. “Open burning” is any fire outdoors where smoke is released directly into the open air without first passing through a chimney or smokestack.”

On Monday evening, March 23rd, The City of Boulder announced a new public health order for the City of Boulder directing individuals to stay at home. The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24. The order is in effect through April 10 and may be extended as needed.

The order, which will be discussed at the March 24 virtual City Council meeting, requires that all people in the City of Boulder stay home and for businesses to implement work from home policies and delivery of goods to the greatest extent possible. All individuals are encouraged to conduct only essential activities necessary to promote health and safety, such as getting groceries, obtaining medical supplies, and getting outdoors only if strict social distancing is observed. Businesses that cannot implement work from home policies and which provide essential services, should continue to implement social distancing for all workers, and personal protection equipment is recommended for those employees.

On Monday, March 23rd, the City and County of Denver issued a new Public Health Order with an explicit stay at home directive for the City and County of Denver that will go into effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 and continue until April 10. “The order requires that all people in the City & County of Denver stay home and businesses implement work from home policies and delivery of goods to the greatest extent possible. The order also calls for Denver Metro regional municipalities to follow the broad consensus among public health professionals that every effort should be made, by all persons, to conduct only those essential activities necessary to promote health and well-being, such as getting groceries, obtaining medical supplies or medication, and/or engaging in outdoor activities like walking, hiking or running, continuing the strict observance of physical distancing practices.”

-Read the Update and Public Health Order-

Watch the press conference:

Posted by Michael B. Hancock on Monday, March 23, 2020

On Monday, March 23rd the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) began shipping supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile across Colorado to help communities respond to COVID-19. The Strategic National Stockpile is “the nation’s largest supply of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.” Colorado will receive the following materials:

49,200 N95 masks
115,000 surgical masks
21,420 surgical gowns
21,800 face shields
84 coveralls

CDPHE estimates that these supplies are sufficient for approximately one full day of statewide operations.

On Friday, March 20, a COVID-19 Recovery Center (CRC) for unhoused individuals will open at the East Boulder Community Center to serve homeless individuals from Boulder and Longmont. Individuals who appear to show symptoms of COVID-19 and who will require further testing will be transported from homeless shelters to the CRC. At CRC, symptomatic or positive COVID-19 tested individuals can be in isolation for 10 to 14 days. Homeless shelters have begun daily screenings for clients and will be identifying individuals who require further care. (More information on the KGNU COVID-19 Resources page)

Thursday, March 19th, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced measures to help businesses hurt by social distancing. At a press conference Thursday afternoon, the mayor said the city will create a $4 million grant program and waive late penalties for business taxes this year.

Colorado will open up a special enrollment period beginning today March 20th, lasting through April 3 during which Coloradans who are currently uninsured can enroll for a state insurance plan that would kick in starting April 1st. Individuals with already-existing plans through Connect for Health Colorado will not be able to change their plans but spouses and children who are also uninsured can enroll, even if one spouse or a child’s parent is already insured.

Thursday, March 19th, Governor Jarod Polis suspended elective and non-essential surgeries and procedures because to limit strain on medical personnel and supplies.

Governor Polis also extended the public health order closing bars, restaurants, theaters, gyms and casinos to the end of April, and included nonessential personal service facilities, horse track and off-track betting facilities statewide. Nonessential personal services also include hair or nail salons, spas, and tattoo or massage parlors, according to the order.

In addition, the Governor updated an executive order for in-person contact during the state’s elections.

Also Thursday, Gov. Polis’ office announced the state’s application for federal disaster area designation has been approved so Colorado small businesses impacted by COVID-19 can now seek up to $2 million in low-interest federal loans from the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

On March 18th, Governor Jarod Polis announced the launch of a Colorado COVID-19 relief fund, Help Colorado Now, that supports coronavirus prevention, impact and recovery efforts through financial donations and volunteer opportunities. Polis also announced a system of emergency childcare for essential workers like hospital workers, public safety workers and those who support the critically at-risk population (More information at covidchildcarecolorado.com). The Governor is also ramping up unemployment insurance and small business relief measures. Colorado’s second coronavirus fatality (in Weld County) was also made official.

Watch Governor Polis’ March 18th press conference below:

I’m here, with proper social spacing, to provide an update on COVID-19 relief efforts and how you can help our fellow Coloradans. #DoingMyPartCO

Posted by Governor Jared Polis on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

On Tuesday, March 17th Boulder County officials announced four additional Boulder area residents tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 11 people in Boulder County. While the disease investigations are still being conducted, two of the recently tested people had not left the county, confirming that there is community spread of COVID-19 in Boulder County.

Late Monday afternoon on March 16th, Governor Jared Polis announced that all restaurants and bars in the state must close except for take-out and delivery. He also ordered all gyms, theaters, and casinos to close.

Also on Monday, the Longmont City Manager Harold Dominguez declared a local disaster emergency and announced that the city was closing three more buildings to public access.
Effective this morning the Civic Center, the city’s main administrative office building at 350 Kimbark St., as well as the Development Services Center at 385 Kimbark St. and the Longmont Service Center at 1100 South Sherman Street are all closed to the public.

In addition, Denver mayor Michael Hancock announced that all restaurants and bars in the city would close for in house dining for 8 weeks. Take out and food delivery services will continue.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says they will resume testing on Tuesday, March 17th with a testing site outside Telluride. According to a press release from the agency, the state is prioritizing testing in mountain resort communities because of the documented transmission of the disease in these areas with a high number of tourists. Telluride is just the first location for these efforts.

On Monday, March 16th the Boulder City Manager signed an order effective immediately that no person shall organize, promote, or stage an event or gathering intended, or which can reasonably be expected to draw an attendance of 20 or more participants and any spectators in any park, parkway, recreation area, street, sidewalk, the Pearl Street Mall, or any other publicly owned space. (This does not include any public transportation waiting area).

Sunday, March 15th in Boulder County, officials announced four more residents tested positive for COVID-19 bringing the total in the county to seven. One of the confirmed cases is a student at CU Boulder.