Coronavirus in Colorado – 2020 Updates

As coronavirus spreads in Colorado, KGNU is committed to keeping you informed about the virus and connected to local resources.

Boulder County is currently at Level Yellow: Concern  

According to the CDPHE, 424,677 positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Colorado with 5,925 deaths among cases (5,860 due to COVID-19)


De acuerdo al CDPHE, se han reportado 424,677 casos positivos de COVID-19 en Colorado con 5,925 muertes entre los casos (5,860 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:

Feb 25, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Inequity Continues to Challenge Boulder County

Boulder County Public Health Emergency Management Planner Chris Campbell revealed that community ambassadors will help educate minority communities about the virus and vaccinations.

The Daily Camera reports that the community ambassadors will be trained in vaccine safety and effectiveness. They will also support the minority community to find mobile and vaccine clinics.

Campbell said the key issues about the vaccine in these communities is that mistrust is deep-seated in political influence, the rush in creating the vaccine, side effects, and long-term effects.

BCPH Executive Director Jeff Zayach said that the county reported 64 new COVID-19 cases but no new deaths or hospitalizations and the county is trending down into the blue zones on the state dial.

The county also announced that the new mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics will provide less than 250 coronavirus inoculations a week for those with limited mobility, which includes those in independent living accommodations and mountain communities.

Information for residents with limited mobility in need of transportation to COVID-19 appointments can be found at the Boulder County website.

Feb 23, 2021
Vaccine Eligibility to Expand Next Week

Colorado state health officials announced today that starting late next week more Coloradans will become eligible to receive a vaccine.  The Colorado Department of Health and Environment says it is expecting to move into Phase 1B.3 of its COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan “on or around March 5.”

Currently, anyone who is 65 or older, as well as first responders, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and those working with the public in health care, child care, or K-12 education are eligible for vaccines.

The new phase will open eligibility to “essential frontline workers” in the following industries:
Grocery stores
Food and agriculture
Manufacturing
U.S. Postal Service
Public transit
Public health
Human services (including services to homeless populations)
Faith communities
Journalism

Feb 17, 2021
Vaccine Deliveries to Colorado Delayed

The severe weather across the country has delayed the delivery of COVID-19 vaccine doses that were expected to arrive in Colorado this week. The winter storm impacted a distribution hub in Tennessee, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Over 130,000 doses were expected to arrive between Tuesday and Thursday; but, the Denver Post reports that it’s unknown when they will get here.

The state health agency said it is working with vaccine providers and local public health departments to make sure appointments and clinics for the shots aren’t canceled this week.

Boulder County Cancels Wednesday COVID-19 Virtual Meeting

Boulder County Public Health canceled its weekly virtual COVID-19 community meeting scheduled for today. The agency cited a lack of new information to share.

The weekly virtual meeting is expected to return next Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

Boulder County yesterday reported two new COVID-19 deaths and 36 new cases. And officials said it’s uncertain if the weather could impact the next delivery of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the county. The University of Colorado Boulder announced on its dashboard that during testing on Monday, there were 12 positive test results.


Feb 16, 2021
COVID Hospitalizations Continue to Drop

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to decline statewide. 462 people were in hospital Monday for confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The Denver Post reports that the number is the lowest for hospitalizations since Oct 19. Overall case numbers are also at their lowest levels since October. Many counties loosened some of their virus restrictions around business capacity in early February…but health officials say it takes two to three weeks after a policy change to see what impact it’s had on the number of people sick…so it’s too early to tell if the more relaxed rules will translate to more cases. Boulder County on Monday reported 17 new COVID cases and one death.

And state health officials have confirmed 67 cases of more contagious COVID variants in Colorado.

Feb 10, 2021
More Vaccines to Arrive in Colorado

Colorado will receive more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in its weekly allocation starting next week. Gov. Jared Polis announced yesterday that the federal government will increase the amount by 9,000 over a three-week period.

The Denver Post reports that the state was receiving about 70,000 does a week but has received more than expected recently.

So far, about 660,000 people in Colorado have received their first dose of vaccine and more than a third of those have received their second shot.

The governor also said he has rejected a request from the city of Denver to speed up vaccinations for people experiencing homelessness.

Mayor Michael Hancock and the city’s joint task force sent a letter to state officials last week presenting a vaccine strategy that would target people living and working in shelters, motels, managed campsites or unsanctioned encampments, no matter their age. The letter cited a hospitalization rate for people experiencing homelessness at three times that of the general population.

But the Governor did not approve:
Polis: “It would cost lives to divert the vaccine from people that are in their seventies to younger healthier people just because they happen to be homeless. We give the same prioritization for homeless as we do for any Coloradan who has a home. That is everybody who is 70 and up who’s homeless is already eligible. [They] should have been vaccinated. If they are 65 and up they are now eligible whether you have a home or don’t have a home.”

9News reports that homeless advocates in Denver are upset with what they believe is a lack of consideration for an especially vulnerable population.

Feb 9, 2021

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Decline Statewide

COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline in Colorado. State health department data released on Monday showed 535 people hospitalized for the virus in the state. That’s about a quarter of the people who were in the hospital for COVID-19 in December. But it’s still considerably higher than last summer’s low hospitalization rate.

There were also about 8400 reported cases of the virus statewide as of Sunday…the lowest weekly total since October. Health officials attribute the decline to people observing the recommendations on wearing masks, washing hands, and limiting face-to-face interactions. The reduction in hospitalizations and overall cases led to easing of some restrictions in Boulder, Denver, and other metro area counties. But officials warn that continued caution is required, particularly as new more contagious variants of the virus spread.


Feb 8, 2021

Metro Area Moves to Level Yellow

On Saturday businesses, including bars and restaurants around the metro area started operating at the less restrictive Yellow Level on the state’s COVID-19 dial. Establishments in Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, and Jefferson counties are now allowed to operate at 50% capacity up to a maximum of 150 people.

Eligibility for Vaccine Increases Today But Availability Limited

As of today, more than 400,000 people have become eligible for a coronavirus vaccination in Colorado.

People aged 65 to 69, workers in K through 12 education and child care, and a small number of government officials are included in what the state is calling Phase 1b.2 of its vaccination plan.

The Colorado Sun reports that these new groups add to the more than 800,000 people who are already eligible for a vaccination. This means that more than a quarter of Colorado’s adult population is able to get the shot.

But being eligible to get the vaccine does not mean one can get it – people need to have an appointment, and the supply of vaccines in the state is still limited. Colorado is expecting 90,000 doses to arrive this week. And, while the state is roughly two-thirds of the way to the goal of vaccinating 70% of those 70-and-older by the end of the month, that still leaves more than 100,000 people in that high-risk group looking for their shots.

The state has a list of vaccine providers by county, but people can also cross county lines to get vaccinated. Health officials have been encouraging everyone to sign up online instead of using the telephone, if able to do so.

Vaccination Event Overrun on Saturday

A COVID-19 vaccination event in Denver was overrun Saturday. It was focused on giving shots to people of color and low-income seniors in the neighborhoods around the National Western Complex.

Then Jefferson County Public Schools alerted 14,000 of its employees that 200 extra doses of vaccine were available to those who could get to the complex within an hour.

The Denver Post reports that hundreds of people rushed there. Traffic backed up at exits and into Interstate 70. Some people leaped from their cars and ran the final stretch to the building.
About an hour after the first notification, the Jeffco district sent another message, telling anyone who was not already in the building to go home. As many as 500 district employees may have received the vaccine.


Coors Field Vaccination Event Draws Thousands

Nearly 10,000 people were vaccinated against COVID-19 over the weekend in a parking lot at Denver’s Coors Field.
The drive-through clinic was open by appointment only to people 70 and older along with some remaining health-care workers.

UC Health spokesperson Richard Zane told 9News the shots were administered over 6 hours each of the two days, and he hopes the playbook that they and their partners created over the weekend could help future mass vaccination sites.

Governor Polis Announces Those 65 and Older and Teachers To Be Vaccinated Starting Next Week

On Friday, Gov. Jared Polis said that Coloradans 65 and older, as well as teachers and child care workers, will have access to the coronavirus vaccine starting a week from today.

Polis, said it was an “easy call” to move the age group up in line to receive the inoculation.

The Colorado Sun reports that people ages 65 to 69 were initially in Phase 2 of Colorado’s vaccine distribution plan, set to begin in the spring; however, they are now in a newly formed Phase “1B.2”.

The governor estimated it will take about two or three weeks to administer first doses to all K-12 educators who want to be vaccinated. School support staff, like bus drivers, will also have access to the vaccine starting next week.

Scott Bookman, Colorado’s coronavirus incident commander, said educators and child care workers will sign up to receive the vaccine through their employers.

Polis said 90% of health care workers and first responders have been vaccinated.

State Legislators Vaccinated

Colorado state lawmakers, their staffers and the journalists who cover them at the Capitol received early access to COVID-19 vaccines in January.

The Denver Post reports that the state sent 240 doses of the vaccine to UCHealth to vaccinate legislators and their staff, however the governor’s office does not know how many actually received the shots. A governor’s spokesperson said that the legislature’s ability to conduct its session safely as soon as possible is necessary to the state’s successful response and recovery.

Sluggish COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout in Colorado

As of Thursday, 410-thousand Coloradans had received one vaccine for COVID-19. Another 109,000 have had two vaccines. That leaves a couple million of eligible state residents without a jab, as new strains of the virus believed to more infectious are discovered. Colorado’s vaccination plan has three phases. Frontline healthcare workers were the first to receive vaccines, followed by Coloradans over the age of 70. Essential workers, including teachers and grocery store employees, are next in line, followed by Coloradans over age 60 and those with preexisting conditions. The general public isn’t expected to begin receiving vaccines until the summer.

Hospitalizations Dropping in Colorado

The Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment reported Monday that 706 people are hospitalized for the virus. That is about one-third the number who were hospitalized in early December.

New cases of COVID are also at about one-third the number reported back in late November. Although the declining numbers are good news, health officials cautioned that those numbers are still three times higher than they were last summer when cases were at their lowest. State epidemiologist Rachel Herlihey told the Denver Post that Coloradans need to continue with precautions while the push to vaccinate continues.

Boulder County Will Receive Less Vaccines This Week

Boulder County will receive fewer doses of the Covid-19 vaccine this week and the state reports that teachers and child care workers will be the first to be vaccinated among essential workers.

Boulder County Public Health reported Monday local COVID-19 vaccine providers will only receive 800 vaccine dosages from the state instead of the typical 3,000 weekly doses. Meanwhile, the county reported six new deaths, 56 new cases, and 10 new hospitalizations. The deaths were residents in their 70s and 90s.

The Daily Camera reports that no explanation was given for the vaccine shortage but that 800 doses will be enough for residents who need their second dose this week.

The same allocation of 800 doses is expected for the next three weeks but is supposed to increase by mid-February.

The Denver Post reports that the state has prioritized vaccinating people 70 and older but that the first essential workers to be vaccinated will be teachers and childcare workers.

The consensus about prioritizing teachers and child care workers in the essential worker groups was based on the importance of reopening child care, preschools, and K-12 schools.

If the state meets its goal of vaccinating 70% of the Coloradans who are 70 or older by Feb. 28, essential workers could begin getting their shots in late February or early March.


Vaccinations at Coors Field on Sunday

In a parking lot outside Coors Field in downtown Denver on January 24, about 1,000 people over the age of 70 received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19.

The effort was part of a UCHealth drive-thru event that served as a practice run before a much bigger effort planned for next weekend when they hope to vaccinate as many as 10,000 in two days.

The Denver Post reports the vaccine is given to those with appointments, and others who show up are turned away.

The trial run went smoothly with traffic flowing steadily to 18 individual tents where drivers were vaccinated.

White Coloradans More Likely to Have Been Vaccinated

Meanwhile, state health officials released new data on Friday that shows Coloradans who are white are more likely to have received a coronavirus vaccine than those who are Black or Hispanic.

White Coloradans have accounted for close to 70 percent of those receiving at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine so far. That’s roughly equal to white representation in the state’s overall population.
But the Colorado Sun reports that Black and Hispanic Coloradans have been under-represented in vaccinations so far. Nearly 4% of Colorado’s population is Black, but they account for less than 2 percent of those vaccinated. The state’s Hispanic population represents nearly 22% of residents, but just over 4 percent have received the vaccine.

The numbers are incomplete because some vaccine providers had not been recording pertinent data. About 1 in 5 vaccinations have been recorded as having “unknown” race or ethnicity — meaning it’s possible the state’s racial and ethnic disparities could be even wider than the new data show. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has now begun asking providers to collect racial and ethnic information.

Governor Jared Polis said Friday that it’s clearly unacceptable to have this kind of disparity here in Colorado.

Local health officials have begun expressing concerns that communities of color are being left behind in the state’s vaccination drive.

The Metro Denver Partnership for Health is calling for the identification of under-vaccinated neighborhoods and expanding vaccination sites to target those areas. It also called for more tailored communication approaches to reach often-overlooked populations.

Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of the CDPHE, said her agency is working to do exactly those kinds of things. She said they are working to identify neighborhoods that could be “vaccine deserts” because they have no medical facilities or pharmacies where vaccines would traditionally be dispensed.

Boulder County reported 64 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, but no new deaths. CU Boulder reported there were 12 positive results found during Friday testing.


COVID-19 On Decline in Most Colorado Counties

In the past two weeks, fifty counties including Boulder County have seen a decrease in COVID-19 cases. According to state data, the overall COVID-19 positivity rate is slightly more than 5%. The highest positivity rate in the state is for Jackson County, in the northern part of the state – which is has had a 21% percent positivity over the past two weeks.


BOCO Continues Vaccination Rollout with Limited Supply of COVID-19 Vaccine

Boulder County has reported 67 new coronavirus cases, but no new deaths, and the county, as of Tuesday, has vaccinated nearly 17,000 residents with the first dose. 2500 people are fully vaccinated with two doses.

Chris Campbell, Boulder County Public Health emergency manager and vaccine lead, said that there are 31 vaccine providers in the county who are able to provide 20,000 vaccines weekly but, because of the limited supply, in the last week there were just 3500 vaccines given.

The Daily Camera reports that people can sign up to receive the vaccine on the county’s Covid-19 vaccine website page. Those without internet access can call Boulder County at 720-776-0822 to find vaccine providers.

Clinica Family Health, which has five clinic locations, offers bilingual and Spanish services.

In the state, as of Wednesday, 78 schools serving K-12 students and eight universities have current coronavirus outbreaks. Most of those outbreaks predate the 12 new outbreaks that occurred in the first three weeks of January. The state defines an outbreak as two or more cases linked to a place or event.

Temp Hospital at Colorado Convention Center to Close

The state announced Tuesday that it will close the temporary hospital it set up last year at the Colorado Convention Center. The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says the state’s hospital capacity is expected to meet the needs of COVID-19.

That’s based on modeling data and information from hospitals. Two other emergency sites in Pueblo and Westminster will remain open. The state converted the convention center to a hospital last April. It had a 2000 bed capacity but never treated a single patient. A spokesperson for the state emergency management department told the Denver Post it was an essential insurance policy for the state.

More Colorado Seniors to get Coronavirus Vaccine

Another change in vaccination plans means 40,000 older Coloradans will get their first shots earlier than expected. Governor Jared Polis on Monday directed hospitals to stop holding back doses for people who need second shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Both vaccines require two shots spaced a few weeks apart. Instead of stockpiling some doses for second shots, the state now wants to use most of the current supply to get older people their first shots.

Colorado is expecting to receive about 80,000 new doses this week. Some of those will then be used as second shots for people who have already received their first dose. Polis told the Denver Post that the state is trying to vaccinate people 70 years old and up as quickly as possible. The goal is to have 70% of all state residents who are 70 and older vaccinated by the end of February.


Delivery of Colorado Vaccine Slowed

Gov. Jared Polis on Friday said he was “shocked” to learn that Colorado will be receiving far fewer doses of coronavirus vaccine this week.

The Colorado Sun reports that the state had anticipated an increase in doses after the Trump administration’s promise to speed up distribution, but that turned out not to be true.

Polis said bluntly, “We were lied to,” and he said he was told by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, and Vice President Mike Pence that an increase in doses was coming.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that the nation’s vaccine reserves had already been exhausted when the Trump administration vowed to release them and push out more doses.

Colorado was expecting to receive 210,000 doses of the vaccine this week. But the Governor said on Twitter that now they have learned the state will get less than 80,000.

Boulder County Health Data

Boulder County on Sunday reported 74 new coronavirus cases, but no new deaths. CU Boulder reported on its online coronavirus dashboard that there were 14 positive tests as of Friday.

State Health Department Takes Steps to Assure Non-Citizens Will Get Vaccinated

Meanwhile, on Sunday Colorado’s public health department sent a letter to providers across the state directing them not to require government IDs or other documentation before people are inoculated against COVID-19. The action seeks to ensure that non-citizens will get vaccinated.

Medical facilities and local health agencies that do not follow the state’s directive may lose access to their vaccine supply, according to Scott Bookman, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

In his letter, Bookman wrote that whether someone is a U.S. citizen or not, we are all in this together, and if you would like a vaccine, you will be able to get one according to what vaccine phase you are in.

The Denver Post reports that providers who are now authorized to vaccinate members of the general public 70 and older, can ask a person’s name, date of birth and address, but recommend they operate on an “honor system” with regard to people’s ages rather than asking to see an ID.

Health officials expect to get to essential workers in the second half of Phase 1B, including teachers and grocery store employees, some officials in state government, and frontline journalists — in March.

Phase 2, which includes people 60 to 69 and those with preexisting health conditions, will follow later in the spring, with the rest of the public eligible by summer.

COVID-19 Vaccination Priority List Changes Again

Colorado Governor Jared Polis said Tuesday that the state will soon announce more changes to its priority list for the coronavirus vaccine, with people between the ages of 65 and 69 and possibly others being moved up.

The Colorado Sun reports the changes are in response to new guidance from the federal government, and they will also recommend giving greater priority to adults of any age with serious underlying medical conditions.

Polis said those aged 65 to 69 will likely become eligible in a couple of weeks to receive the vaccine. But his office later announced that the state will release a new priority list next week and was more cautious on the timing for when the new priority group would become eligible.

Dr. Richard Zane, chief innovation officer for UCHealth, says vaccinating people over 70 should still be a top priority because that age group has the highest COVID death rate.

Polis did not answer a question about whether the new priority structure will bump teachers and other essential workers further down the list.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Fall as Cases Rise

Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Colorado have kept falling since the deadly surge last fall, but new cases are up for a second straight week.

Beth Carlton of the Colorado School of Public Health told the Denver Post it’s not totally clear why the two are moving in opposite directions.

She added that new hospitalizations tend to lag behind the number of new cases, so it’s possible they could rise in a few days, but Carlton noted it’s possible the spread of the virus at holiday gatherings was not enough to cause a major spike.

On Monday, the number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 was less than half the fall peak that occurred in early December.

Boulder County Public Health reported Tuesday two new COVID-19 deaths that involved residents of long-term care facilities.

The two residents were in their 80s and 90s and bring the county’s coronavirus death toll to 203. The county reported 47 new cases on Tuesday.

Denver in Middle of COVID-19 Spike

The city of Denver is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases which is likely related to the holidays.
Denverite reports that infection rates were on the steady decline in the city after reaching record highs last fall.

But last Tuesday, over 1,000 new cases were recorded in Denver, while the previous day saw less than 200. That was the same day Governor Jared Polis eased restrictions on restaurants allowing them to reopen on a limited basis.

During a press conference on Friday, Governor Polis said many people weren’t tested over the holidays, so the new record set last Tuesday was probably an over-correction once people finished their end-of-year celebrations.

However, Denver’s positivity rate – the ratio of tests taken compared to tests that came back positive – grew in the last week, which means the spike is about more than people rushing to get tested.

Boulder County Has New COVID Cases but no New Deaths

Boulder County on Sunday reported 95 new coronavirus cases, but no new deaths. However, On Friday the county reported an additional 14 COVID-19 deaths, according to Boulder County Public Health spokesperson Chana Goussetis. In a notice, she said that 9 of those deaths involved residents of long-term care facilities, that happened over the holidays. She added that the deaths were in the age ranges of their 50s to their 90s.

Schools in Colorado to get Rapid COVID-19 Tests

School districts in Colorado will receive 1 million rapid COVID tests, Governor Polis announced Wednesday. The tests will be distributed to school staff, students, and families. The state says the tests will help with rapid identification of positive cases so that schools can respond quickly to control outbreaks and keep in-person learning going.

Colorado is one of three states participating in a public-private partnership to get rapid tests in schools.

Polis on Wednesday also defended his administration’s push to rollout vaccinations before many county health departments were fully prepared to implement vaccine programs.

“We want to convey that this is a crisis, extreme times call for extreme measures,” he said. “The chaos is not desirable but the fact of going as quickly as possible, the benefits of going as quickly as possible to get it into the arms of folks, far outweighs any benefit of delaying until everything is lined up.”

Boulder County Explains Vaccine Distribution Plan to Educators

Boulder County Public Health reports 100 new coronavirus cases since Tuesday and a letter was sent Wednesday explains the distribution plan to educators who await their inoculation.

Since Tuesday, there have been 100 cases, no new deaths and, as of Wednesday, the county has 51 people hospitalized.

The Daily Camera reports that Jeff Zayach, executive director of Boulder County Public Health, said that 1 in 92 Boulder County residents is contagious. Zayach suggested people can sign up for the state’s exposure app that can alert individuals if they’ve been exposed to a known positive person.

St. Vrain Valley and Boulder Valley school districts had elementary students back in the classroom this week. Both districts’ second-semester plan will have elementary students attend four days a week. Secondary students will start remotely and phase into a hybrid plan.

The letter to educators released Wednesday said that based on current vaccine supply, anticipation to complete the vaccination for moderate risk health care workers, first responders, and adults 70 and older will be around early March. The state said that the county cannot start to vaccinated educators without the state’s approval.

33 Counties Move from Red to Orange on COVID-19 Dial But Health Officials Urge Caution

Monday marked a return to lower levels of coronavirus restrictions for 33 counties in Colorado —including all of the metro area. But a member of the state’s virus modeling task force says the relaxed rules come at a challenging time. Dr. Jon Samet, Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, told the Denver Post that the lower restrictions will have to be watched carefully. He says loosening the rules on things like indoor dining, while school districts also plan to return to remote learning, could pose a challenge to health systems if the virus surges again.

Under the return to what is called “Orange Level” restrictions, restaurants can reopen for in-person dining at 25% capacity. Fitness centers can also reopen with 25% capacity. And in-person gatherings of up to 10 people from two different households are also allowed again. But COVID-19 cases are still high in Colorado. The state reported more than 14,000 new cases last week—that’s a slight increase after three weeks of declining case numbers.

Hospitalizations have also decreased but are still at the highest numbers of the pandemic. Some health officials expressed concern about easing the dining and other restrictions while case numbers remain high.

Boulder County Has Rolled out Its New Community Vaccine Notification Program.

Under the new program, Boulder County residents can now sign up to be notified when they are able to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

The Daily Camera reports that to be notified when the vaccine becomes available for your priority group, sign up at the county’s website, Bouldercounty.org.

Phase 1 of the distribution first goes to the almost 30,000 county residents who are 70 years old or older as well as teachers, grocery store employees, and other front-line workers.

County spokesperson Chana Goussetis said Goussetis said that the new notification system is separate from the notification system for health care workers and first responders.

She also added that the county has been receiving 500-700 doses each week.

Since the vaccine’s supply remains limited, it will be months before every Boulder County resident in Phase 1 receives the shot.

Boulder County reported Monday that there have been 155 new coronavirus cases and two new deaths. The two people who died were in their 70s and 90s and were residents of long-term care facilities.


Many Counties Move from Red to Orange on COVID-19 Dial

On Monday January 4, all of the 33 counties that have been in Level Red on the state’s COVID-19 dial will move back down to orange. Under Level Orange, restaurants can allow customers back inside. Capacity limits will be capped at 25% or 50 people.

Governor Jared Polis made the announcement on Twitter last week. Denver along, with the rest of the Front Range, will be allowed to take small steps back toward normal.
Davin Helden owner of Liquid Mechanics Brewing Company in Lafayette told KDVR that it was a pleasant surprise to hear that they could go to Level Orange.

Helden had made investments in expanding the restaurant’s indoor taproom, and now with the move to Level Orange, he is hoping it will pay off, by allowing the brewery to have 20 tables instead of the nine they had before.

In Boulder County, the health department reported Sunday that there were 107 new coronavirus cases, but no new deaths. New cases of COVID-19 among Boulder County residents in the past two weeks is about 334 per 100,000.
State Revises Vaccination Plan

Colorado is revising its vaccination plan to accelerate giving shots to more people over 70.
In a press conference Wednesday, Governor Jared Polis explained that expanding early vaccination of older Coloradoans should have a big impact on the COVID death rate and lower hospitalizations.

In addition to increased early vaccination of people in their 70s, the state is also prioritizing more health care staff, teachers, grocery store employees, and other essential workers. These folks are now part of what the state calls “Phase 1B” of the vaccination program. Phase 1A included health care workers who have direct contact with COVID patients as well as high-risk individuals.

It’s not clear when all these people in Phase 1B will be vaccinated.

Boulder County Develops Its Vaccination Plan

There were 99 new cases and 2 deaths reported in Boulder County on Wednesday.

The Daily Camera reports that Boulder County Public Health said that there will be more information about the county’s vaccination plan next week. They will have to take into consideration that there are an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people in Boulder County 70 years old or older.
The county’s five hospitals are nearly finished distributing the phase 1 vaccine doses to high-risk staff members.
In the discussion of opening up schools full time, the county will take into consideration that data shows there’s little risk of students 10 and under transmitting the virus to adults, but those same children are at high risk of decreased learning while learning remotely. For secondary students the risk is higher of transmitting the virus, the health department continues to recommend a hybrid of online and in-person classes to reduce class sizes and allow for more social distancing.
Residents can follow the health department for updates by signing up for news releases at Bouldercounty.org.

Colorado Relaxes Some COVID-19 Restrictions

The state also announced relaxed rules for some counties that were at Red level restrictions. In a social media post on Wednesday, Governor Polis said he asked the Colorado Dept of Public Health and the Environment to move counties that are in the Red zone back into the Orange zone starting next Monday. Polis cited the decline in COVID cases over the past two weeks. Orange level restrictions include allowing gatherings of up to ten people from two different households and in-person dining at restaurants up to 25% capacity.

But Polis emphasized that the looser restrictions do not go into effect until after the New Year’s holiday and he again encouraged people to stay home tonight.

40 New Cases But No New COVID-19 Deaths in Boulder County

Boulder County on Sunday reported 40 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths. The death toll remains at 174.

The county said that the rate of new COVID-19 cases among Boulder County residents during the past two weeks is above 370 per 100,000. The Daily Camera reports that rate is down from November when the state and county tightened restrictions; however, Boulder County remains at Level Red, which indicates severe risk.

COVID-19 Deaths Dropping in the State

COVID-19 deaths in Colorado are dropping, according to data released Wednesday.   State epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy told reporters that deaths from COVID-19 peaked last week and have been declining since then.  Overall cases and hospitalizations are also dropping.

State officials continue to urge Coloradoans to celebrate the holidays at home only with people they live with and to avoid crowded stores and public places.  There were three new coronavirus deaths and 104 news cases reported in Boulder County Wednesday.  Two of the new cases were elderly people who lived in long term care facilities.

Boulder County Begins Administering Vaccine

The Boulder County Public Health Department began administering the Moderna coronavirus vaccine Tuesday.

Mike Stratton, communications specialist for the department, told the Daily Camera that about 175 outpatient health care workers, from 12 facilities across the county were given the vaccine – including those who work in hospice care facilities, nurses from the Boulder County Jail and workers at the Hopelight Medical Clinic in Longmont.

Stratton said the plan is to reach all the outpatient health care workers in the county quickly.  The county doesn’t have a specific goal or deadline for reaching health care workers, but the next step will be identifying all such workers in the county.

Boulder county recorded four new deaths from the virus and 95 new cases.  The four people who died were residents of long-term care facilities. The deaths bring the county’s total to 171.

Denver to Apply for Less Serious Restrictions

The City of Denver has started the process to apply to the state so that businesses can operate under less serious COVID-19 restrictions.

Denver public health executive director Bob McDonald said Tuesday that the city meets certain metrics in order for a county to be eligible for the 5 Star State Certification Program, which includes having two weeks of sustained case rates dropping, a positivity rate below 10 percent or improving, and under 90 percent of ICU beds in use or declining in use.

Denverite reports that the city got a “report card” from the state’s health department showing it had met those requirements.

Right now, Denver is under Level Red in the state’s dial, which is the second-worst level.

If Denver were to participate in the 5 Star program, businesses in the city and county would be allowed to apply to operate under Level Orange. This would mean, for example, that restaurants in Denver could allow indoor dining again.

McDonald said the local businesses could start applying for the program as early as next month.

However, Councilmember Robin Kniech said the city has been approaching the program backward.  She said she has serious concerns about allowing restaurants to reopen under the program and whether its impact could jeopardize the Denver Public School’s plan to allow in-person learning next year

Kniech said there are many unanswered questions, and the responsible thing would be to publicly discuss the trade-off between cases rates and public health and the economic goals.

Meanwhile, as of Monday morning, 134 restaurants in Summit County were approved to reopen their indoor dining areas under the new guidelines.  The Denver Post reports that Summit is the only county where the application for the 5-Star program has been approved.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Dropping but Virus Continues to Disproportionately Impact Communities of Color

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are dropping, according to state data released Monday.  But health officials warned that it’s too early to let up on restrictions that limit the spread of the virus.   The Colorado Dept of Public Health and the Environment reported about 17, 600 new virus cases last week.  That’s the lowest level since October.  In Boulder County, the five-day rate for coronavirus positive tests is 3.8%–also the lowest number since mid-October.

The virus continues to have a disproportionate impact on people of color.  Of the 477 virus cases reported in Boulder County last week, 36% were Hispanic or LatinX people who make up less than 14% of the county population.  Health officials urged Coloradans Monday not to become complacent.  They emphasized limiting social gatherings during the holidays only to people within the same household…in addition to continuing to wear masks, maintain social distancing and wash hands.

State Epidemiologist Says There Are Improvements

The state’s top epidemiologist said Friday that there are starting to be some clear improvements, despite infection rates being high.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy said there has been a sustained, two-week downward trend in cases and hospitalizations are decreasing as well.

During a news conference with Governor Polis, Herlihy said Coloradans’ actions and Colorado’s policies have made a difference.

Buck Says He Won’t Get Vaccine

U.S. Representative Ken Buck, a Republican from Weld County, said on Friday that he won’t be getting the coronavirus vaccine.

During an appearance on Fox Business, Buck said that it’s his choice and he has the freedom to decide if he’s going to take the vaccine or not.  Buck said he’s more concerned about the safety of the vaccine than “the side effects of the disease.”

The Colorado Sun reports that Buck said in a later tweet that his point was at-risk individuals should be prioritized before members of Congress. He also said that he encourages frontline workers, health care professionals and at-risk people to get the vaccine.

Health care experts say the coronavirus vaccine is safe, though some people may experience side effects consistent with a mild cold after receiving it.

Boulder County Jail Experiencing Staffing Reduction Due to Virus

The Boulder County Jail has been dealing with a significant reduction in staff caused by COVID-19 quarantine protocols. The Daily Camera reports that three inmates, an employee and two contract workers had tested positive for the virus.

Sheriff Division Chief Jeff Goetz said that with 24 workers also under quarantine, the jail has been running at roughly 60% of its usual staff.

Goetz said the jail has been in communication with the District Attorney and the courts in the hopes of finding opportunities to reduce the inmate population during the outbreak.

Boulder County Public Health spokesperson Chana Goussetis said that the agency and the jail have been working in partnership to manage the outbreak. However, as of the middle of last week, the jail is not listed on the state’s website as experiencing an outbreak.

Colorado Restaurants Ease for Counties That Meet Requirements

Meanwhile, a program to allow restaurants to operate with fewer COVID-19 restrictions has been finalized by Colorado health officials. The program would apply to restaurants that meet health and safety requirements and are certified by their local public health agency.

The Denver Post reports that the so-called “5 Star Program” would give restaurants and other businesses the opportunity to operate under less-restrictive conditions, depending on their county’s level on the state’s COVID-19 dial. Restaurants in Level Red counties would only be eligible to be certified for the program if their county sees a two-week decline in cases, positivity rate, and hospitalizations.

Each restaurant or business would still need to be certified, even if their county metrics meet those initial requirements. Only counties that reach Level Purple on the state COVID-19 dial would not be eligible for the program. No counties are on Level Purple. Boulder County remains at Level Red on the dial.

Boulder County Health Workers Receive Vaccine Tuesday

Six health workers in Boulder were given the coronavirus vaccine Tuesday. Boulder Community Health received 970 doses of the vaccine, according to Rich Sheehan, spokesperson for Boulder Community Health.

The Daily Camera reports that starting today 200 health care workers will be vaccinated each day. Sheehan said he’s not sure when the second round of vaccinations will be delivered or how many will arrive. A vaccine produced by Moderna, based in Massachusetts, is also slated to arrive at a Boulder Community Health facility next week.

Meanwhile, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said Tuesday that if you’re planning to celebrate Christmas by gathering with your extended family, it’s time to start quarantining. He added that it’s safest to celebrate virtually or to plan “Christmas in July” parties after more people have received the COVID-1 vaccines.

Pueblo County Sets Up Mobile Morgue

In Pueblo County, the Coroner’s Office said yesterday that it has set up a mobile morgue in a semitrailer to store extra bodies as coronavirus deaths continue to climb across Colorado.

The use of the refrigerated truck reflects just how deadly the third wave of the pandemic has become even as the vaccine arrives. The Denver Post reports that Pueblo County has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in Colorado, recording 141 fatalities per 100,000 people. In Denver, the COVID-19 death rate is near 85 per 100,000 people.

The state health department reported 132 new deaths reported yesterday and the number of patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of the virus decreased by 21.

First Vaccinations to Be Given Monday Afternoon

This morning Colorado will receive its initial shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Denver Post reports that Governor Jared Polis and other state officials are scheduled to accept delivery of the first vaccine shipment at a location that has not been publicly identified. According to the governor’s office, the first doses will be administered to frontline health care workers during an event in Fort Collins this afternoon.

Colorado is due to receive almost 47,000 doses of the vaccine in the first shipment following federal regulatory approval of Pfizer’s vaccine Friday night.

Next week, state health officials expect to receive nearly 96,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine, provided it, too, receives emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The state plans to spend the winter administering the vaccine to health care workers and first responders during Phase 1 of its distribution. Phase 2, which may begin in the spring, will cover people 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions. Phase 3 is scheduled for the summer and will include Coloradans aged 18 to 64.

Governor Says Health Orders Remain in Place and Urges People Not to Travel for Holidays

On Friday Governor Polis said the state cannot let up on current health orders and social distancing actions because of how widespread the virus is among communities, even though recent data has been promising with cases appearing to reaching a high plateau.

Polis said that the normal way we socialize would lead to additional levels of loss of life with now just over 3,000 having paid the ultimate price.

9News reports that the governor urged people not to travel for upcoming holidays; but, if they do plan to gather he asked people to quarantine for 10 days prior to avoid contracting the virus and potentially spreading it at those gatherings.

Colorado Revises COVID-19 Vaccine Plan

Colorado released a revised framework Wednesday for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.  Two populations will be first in line:  health care workers at risk of exposure and people with existing risk factors that make them vulnerable

The revised plan further clarifies that incarnated individuals will only be prioritized for the vaccine if they have health conditions that place them at risk.  Correctional facilities and homeless shelters are no longer prioritised in the plan, despite being the site of some COVID outbreaks.  Governor Jared Polis said yesterday that the current plan does prioritize people who work at prisons but not the people incarnated unless they are at-risk:

State health officials say vaccination priority will not be determined by where someone lives– only how susceptible they are to the disease.    Critics say that approach to vaccination may protect the most vulnerable people in congregate care facilities like prisoners and jails but it won’t help control outbreaks in those facilities.

Weekly Coronavirus Updates Scheduled for Local Residents

Boulder County will provide residents weekly, virtual COVID-19 updates starting next Wednesday. Boulder County Public Health said the updates are designed to help the community feel more informed and give residents an opportunity to ask questions. The first update is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 9. It will include an overview of the coronavirus vaccine distribution plans for the state. The online meeting is set to begin about 3:40 p.m.

Special State Legislative Session Wraps Up With Millions Committed to COVID Relief

The Colorado legislature wrapped up their special session Wednesday with final approval of over $300 million in pandemic relief programs.  There was bipartisan support for ten different bills.   One of those provides $57 million to small businesses and arts organizations.  But it conditions payments on counties following COIVD-19 restrictions.  If a small business is in a county that is defying public health orders, they may not get the aid.

Other bills approved include assistance for child care centers and food pantries as well as an expansion of internet access for remote learning.

There’s also close to $60 million set aside for housing and utility assistance.   The state estimates that hundreds of thousands of Coloradoans are vulnerable to eviction or foreclosure.  Previous housing relief money expires this month.

Governor Jared Polis is expected to sign the bills as early as today.  He says the state is doing the best it can to help with limited funds but, as the pandemic drags on, more federal help is needed.

The legislature also approved $100 million for a disaster relief fund that will help with public health spending.  The Denver Post reports that the state is expecting that money to be reimbursed by the feds.

Boulder County could receive vaccine in 10 days as a death and 209 new cases reported Wednesday 

Boulder County Public Health spokesperson Chana Goussetis said that Boulder County hospitals may receive doses of the coronavirus vaccine by December 12th. The Daily Camera reports that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the vaccines are for hospital staff and they weren’t sure yet how many doses the county will first receive.

Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas and Larimer counties are also prepared to receive the vaccine between Dec. 11 and 14.

Goussetis also said public health is concerned about hospital staffing shortages. Data shows 40% of county hospitals are experiencing a staffing shortage or expect a shortage in the next week.

The Wednesday report of 209 new cases brings the county to 11,642 cases.

Public health warned Monday that the five-day average of new daily cases should start increasing following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Special Session of State Legislature has Begun

Colorado lawmakers began their special session on Monday.  The focus is a $328 million package of COVID-19 relief.

Proposals include help for small businesses, child care providers, renters and landlords among others.  The session comes, in part, as a response to the lack of action at the federal level on additional COVID assistance programs.

Some Republican lawmakers declined to wear masks at times despite protocols in place at the State Capitol requiring masks.

The legislature expects to conclude its business later this week.  They will convene again in early January for their regular 2021 session.

Coronavirus Hospitalizations Continue to Rise in Boulder

Data reported Monday by Boulder County Public Health shows 131 residents now hospitalized with COVID-19.

Statewide hospitalizations are above 1800.  The overall case numbers are going down in Boulder County.  But health officials say cases may rise again as a result of people gathering over Thanksgiving.

Special Session of Legislature Begins to Address Pandemic Relief

The Colorado legislature starts meeting in a special session, Nov. 30th, to consider coronavirus relief bills.

Democrats unveiled their plans on Sunday which include direct payments to small businesses, tax forgiveness, grants for childcare centers and money to expand broadband access.

The Colorado Sun reports that the aid totals about $200 million and is aimed at providing a bridge until a much larger congressional stimulus measure is approved.

The largest proposal in terms of dollars centers on direct payments to small businesses hit hard by capacity limits.  A bill would provide $37 million in relief to restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses that have been unable to reopen or hurt severely by mandates.

Counties that are under Colorado’s red- or purple-level coronavirus restrictions, would get the relief money first and those that are in compliance with state public health orders would also be prioritized. Weld County’s commissioners, for instance, have vowed not to enforce state mandates.

Another bill would allow restaurants and bars to keep up to $2,000 per month in state sales taxes they are required to collect.

Lawmakers will also consider emergency housing assistance to renters and homeowners with more than 45 million dollars going to landlords whose tenants can’t pay rent and to renters with income below a certain level.

$500,000 will go toward providing legal representation for people facing eviction.

Lawmakers concede that the money isn’t a silver bullet, and business leaders say it’s unlikely to revive businesses that are at the edge of failing.

Senator Faith Winter, a Democrat from Westminster said that the relief money is not going to be enough to help everyone, but it’s the money they have.

Polis and First Gentleman Test Positive

On Saturday night, Nov.29th, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced on Twitter that he and first gentleman Marlon Reis have tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement, the governor said that they are both asymptomatic, feeling well, and will continue to isolate in their home.

Polis said he will work remotely and “continue to fulfill his duties and responsibilities.”

The Denver Post reports that Polis began quarantining Wednesday after learning he was exposed to a person who tested positive.

The coronavirus has been surging in Colorado and the state estimated last week that one in 41 people here are contagious. The governor urged every Coloradan to limit public interactions, wear masks, wash hands regularly and stay 6 feet from others.

On Saturday Polis also extended an executive order that provides a one-time state payment to workers who have collected unemployment benefits because of the pandemic.

Coronavirus Data Update

On Sunday, Nov. 29th, the state Department of Public Health and Environment reported that there were, 1,749 patients hospitalized in Colorado, and the seven-day, moving average positivity rate of virus infections increased to just over 11 percent [11.02%].

Positivity is an important indicator of the status of COVID-19 in the state. To contain the virus the World Health Organization recommends that the positivity rate be at or below 5%.

Boulder County on Sunday reported 87 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths. The University of Colorado Boulder reported on Friday 23 positive tests out of 377 diagnostic tests.

On Saturday the county reported 159 new coronavirus cases and four new deaths — a single-day death toll not seen since May.

Denver Mayor Returns to Denver

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was back in Denver on Saturday, Nov. 28th, after spending four days on a family visit to Mississippi for Thanksgiving that put him in the national spotlight.

The Mayor has been widely criticized for his decision to travel contradicting his public warning that people should stay close to home for the holiday.

On Saturday, Hancock told 9News that his decision to travel was not wise and he should not have made the trip.

The mayor flew from DIA to Houston on Wednesday and then traveled to Mississippi to visit his daughter. His wife was already there.

About 30 minutes before the flight, Hancock sent out a message on Twitter saying, “avoid travel, if you can” in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The mayor also wrote an email to city staff on Nov. 18, saying that, even though we all long to be with our families in person, with the rise in coronavirus cases, he urged them to refrain from travel this Thanksgiving holiday.  He added that for his family that meant canceling the traditional gathering of their extended family.

On Saturday Hancock admitted that making the trip was hypocritical and a mistake that he deeply regrets and apologizes for.

The mayor said he will quarantine for 14 days and work remotely during that time.

Boulder County COVID-19 Case Update

Boulder County reported 130 new coronavirus cases Thursday, Nov. 26th. That’s a slight increase from the number reported Wednesday, Nov. 25th. Most of the reported cases are in the county’s two largest cities. About 4,500 total cases have been reported in Boulder and 3,500 cases in Longmont.

Colorado Unemployment Claims Continue to Rise

Unemployment claims in Colorado increased last week. Data from the Department of Labor shows that over 15,000 people filed for unemployment last week. That’s up 69% over the previous week and it’s the highest weekly number since May. The rise in claims in the state tracks with the rise in COVID-19 cases. Filings also increased nationwide.  Last week, 775,000 people in the U.S .filed for unemployment.

Polis Warns Businesses Over Refusals to Comply with COVID-19 Restrictions

Governor Jared Polis warned Colorado Tuesday, Nov. 24th, that their refusal to comply with COVID-19 restrictions could result in the loss of their licenses.

At an afternoon press conference, Polis said that new cases of infections appear to have stabilized in the last few days, with one in every 41 residents of the state being contagious.

However, hospitalizations have continued to increase, and more than one-third of hospitals report they are short-staffed.

The Denver Post reports that currently, 22 counties are in Level Red on the state’s COVID -19 Dial, including most of the Front Range. Most businesses can operate at only 25 percent of capacity with gyms and offices limited to 10 percent. Indoor dining is prohibited.

Polis said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment can suspend or revoke the licenses of restaurants that don’t take steps to avoid spreading diseases.

Weld County commissioners are defying the governor. They say they won’t enforce the Level Red restrictions, and some business owners in Larimer County announced yesterday morning that they would ignore new restrictions when their county is moved to the higher level. Polis says businesses that fail to observe the new rules could lose their license.

9News reports that five restaurants in Douglas County were forced to close on Monday after the Tri-County Health Department said they violated public health orders by allowing dine-in service. Douglas County is one of the counties that has been moved to the stricter category.

The establishments were ordered to remain closed until the health department determines they are in compliance with the Level Red order.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s epidemiologist, said yesterday that it’s too early to be sure if the lower cases of infections in recent days are a sustained trend; but even if they are, she said it’s still important to avoid gatherings with people who don’t live with you and to wear a mask and stay six feet from others when you leave home.

Longmont Mayor Proposes Resiticting Medical Services to Weld County Residents 

Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley wants the city to restrict the ability of its two hospitals to provide medical services to residents of Weld County as long as that county’s commissioners refuse to enforce the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

The Times Call reports that it’s not clear the city can legally impose such a restriction.

In an email, Bagley directed staff to prepare an ordinance that would make it illegal for Longmont United Hospital or UCHealth’s Longs Peak Hospital to provide medical services to any resident of a county or municipality where their elected officials have refused to comply with the governor’s emergency orders.

The mayor’s limitation would apply when a resident from a jurisdiction that does comply with health orders needs access to Longmont hospitals.

Bagley wrote that Longmont has complied with the governor’s orders and has

hospital beds and medical staff available; but, he said, Weld county points to that availability to suggest they can be used in the event Weld hospitals reach capacity.

A hospital’s refusal of emergency care may violate a federal law dating back more than thirty years.

Mayor Bagley, who is an attorney, said that he is raising the issue because the impacts of Weld County’s noncompliance with the state orders has the potential of damaging Longmont’s hospital systems.

Boulder County Virus Deaths and Infections Update

Boulder County recorded two new deaths and 152 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, Nov. 24th, as hospitalizations remain at a record high of 119. According to a health department spokesperson, the two recorded deaths were of residents both in their 80s.

Polis Announces “Back-to-School Task Force”

At his press conference Tuesday, Nov. 24th, Polis announced he has established a “back-to-school task force” to help districts offer as much uninterrupted in-person learning as possible in the second semester. Most districts have shifted to virtual instruction as COVID-19 cases rise.

The governor said that schools are one of the safer public places even while Colorado is at a height of infection.

Chalkbeat reports that the task force will meet for the first time today and Polis said it will work with parents, educators, school board members, and public health officials to look at protocols and “examples of what works.” He did not offer details about members or the process of selecting them.

The state does not have a statewide strategy for opening or closing schools during the pandemic. Instead, each district makes its own decision based on guidance from state education and local public health officials.  Polis said the task force is an attempt to “be more hands-on” in providing support to school districts.

Boulder County COVID-19 Hospitalizations Highest Yet

Daily hospitalizations for the coronavirus reached an all-time high in Boulder County Monday, as the number of cases topped 10,000.

According to the Boulder Daily Camera, the 157 new cases recorded yesterday brought the county to 10,130 cases, and the death toll remains at 115. County data shows there are currently 119 people hospitalized, 15 more than Friday’s current hospitalizations.

On Monday, Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order allowing at-capacity hospitals to transfer patients, and stop admitting new ones, to help them respond to a surge in COVID-19 patients across the state.

COVID-19 Updates

There was some good news on Sunday, Nov. 22nd, about COVID-19 infections in the state as the positivity rate from testing showed a decrease to just over 12 percent according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

But that rate is still way above the goal of 5 percent. As of yesterday, 1,539 patients are hospitalized in Colorado.

The Denver Post reports that testing sites in Denver are so swamped that public health officials are asking people who can safely delay getting tested to do so.

In addition, those who can get a private test should go that route, leaving the city’s four community sites for those with fewer resources.

The state announced late Friday that it is opening new testing sites in Golden and Lone Tree and will be operating mobile testing vans in various locations.

As of Friday 20 counties were moved to the red level of the state’s COVID-19 dial including  Boulder and all other counties in metro Denver.

The new Level Red bars personal gatherings of any size, forces restaurants to close indoor dining, limits office capacity to 10 percent, and recommends high schools and colleges switch to remote learning.

Boulder County on Sunday reported two new deaths and 159 new coronavirus cases. The University of Colorado had 13 positive tests on Saturday.

Governor Jared Polis said on Friday that what was always reasonably safe, is no longer reasonably safe, and that we are losing Coloradans every day to the virus.

He emphasized the importance of personal responsibility and suggested that the present challenges many small businesses face — laying off staff and cutting back capacity, if not closing altogether — are an unfortunate outcome of individuals’ lack of caution.

Weld County Commissioner Says No to Enforcement of Level Red Restrictions

Weld County is one of the 20 that have been moved to the Red Level, but the County Commissioners said Friday that they would not obey new restrictions.

In a news release, the Weld commissioners wrote that the county government will encourage residents and business owners to take individual responsibility and make decisions to protect themselves, their families, their community and their businesses.

The Denver Post reports that Weld County, in particular, has repeatedly chafed at instituting restrictions to curb the virus.

Governor Polis did not say how the state plans to address Weld County’s open flouting of the tougher, Level Red restrictions.

Emergency Alert Sent to Cell Phones Sunday

A COVID-19 safety alert was sent to some cell phones at 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning, Nov. 22nd, from the State Emergency Operations Center.

The alert targeted cell phones in counties that have moved to the red level meaning there is a “severe risk” of getting COVID-19 in those areas.

The state Joint Information Center said that the alert was to notify Coloradans about the direness of the COVID-19 situation in the state, with 1 out of every 49 people infected.

The Center said they need everyone to avoid gatherings outside their household including those for Thanksgiving. People should wear masks anytime they go outside their house; keep physical distancing of at least 6 feet from anyone they encounter.

Boulder County Moves to ‘Level Red’ on COVID-19

Due to a continued rise in cases, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has announced that Boulder County will move to a more restrictive level of recovery called, “Level Red: Severe Risk,” effective Friday, Nov. 20th at 5 p.m.

This is a transition from the county’s current status of “Level Orange: High Risk.” This will result in new capacity restrictions in Boulder County for some businesses. Under Level Red, community members should stay home as much as possible and public or private gatherings are limited to one household. There will be greater restrictions at the public library, recreation centers, and the police station lobby will be open for appointments only.

Restaurants will be the most severely impacted: under the order, restaurants may offer curbside and takeout until 10 p.m., delivery services, and in-person outdoor dining to tables with a single household. The last service of food, drink, and alcohol at restaurants is 8 p.m. The order also reduces or eliminates indoor capacity for most business sectors and strongly recommends remote work for all workers when possible.

CSU Announces Development of New COVID-19 Test

Colorado State University researchers hope to have a self-administered rapid antigen test they’ve developed for COVID-19 on the market by late winter or early spring. According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, the test kit is about the size of a deck of playing cards, and includes everything a consumer would need to test themselves for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Boulder County Sets More Virus Records

Boulder County set a single-day record Wednesday, Nov. 15th, for COVID-19 hospitalizations. The county reported 98 people are in hospital for the virus. Over the past two weeks, the county reported 795 new cases per 100,000 residents—that’s by far the highest levels of the pandemic.

Stricter regulations go into effect Friday, Nov. 20th, for 15 counties, including Boulder and all other metro Denver counties. The new rules include a ban on personal gatherings, no indoor dining at restaurants and very limited capacity at offices and gyms.

COVID-19 on the Rise Again in Colorado Nursing Homes

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said that 57 nursing homes were experiencing outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, as were 58 assisted living facilities.

Nursing home residents made up for a disproportionate share of deaths when the virus first arrived in the spring in Colorado, mainly because the odds of dying from the virus increase with age.

Colorado State epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said that with the virus spreading in all age groups, it’s primarily facility staff that have been exposed on the outside and unknowingly bringing it into the long-term facilities. Because of the infection being asymptomatic to some, the staff don’t develop the symptoms which are signs for them to stay home.

Colorado reported over 4000 new coronavirus cases Wednesday. Statewide, nearly 1,500 people were hospitalized Wednesday, Nov. 15th, with confirmed cases of COVID-19, breaking a record set the day before.

An outbreak isn’t over until four weeks have passed with no new cases linked to it.

St Vrain Valley School District Moves to All Remote Learning

The St Vrain Valley School District will join the Boulder Valley and other area school districts in the move to all remote learning. The district announced Wednesday, Nov. 18th,  that they will make the switch after the Thanksgiving break. St Vrain operated on a hybrid model for the past six weeks. Students attended school in person two days a week. The Daily Camera reports that the district will continue with remote learning at least until January.

The Denver Public Schools also announced Wednesday, Nov. 18th, that they will shift to all remote learning after Thanksgiving. DPS reports about 300 coronavirus cases per week now, compared to 13 cases per week in September.

Colorado Moves 15 Counties to Level Red Restrictions

By the end of the week (Nov. 20th), Colorado officials will impose tighter restrictions on 15 counties, including much of the metro area, in an effort to curb the accelerating transmission of COVID-19. But the state is not ordering a lockdown.

The new public health restrictions in the 15 counties were announced yesterday. They will encourage, but not order, people to stay at home, while prohibiting all personal gatherings outside of an individual’s household, barring indoor dining at restaurants and moving last call for alcohol to 8 p.m.

Governor Jared Polis said that the state must act now to save lives and to avoid a shutdown or lockdown.

The Daily Camera reports that the state’s system of determining the appropriate response to the pandemic is changing. The updated Level Red now indicates the counties where there is severe risk of COVID-19 spreading rapidly, but still allows some businesses to remain open at very limited capacity. The addition of a new purple level on the dial will indicate when stay-at-home orders will be implemented.

State officials said that they are adding the new purple level in response to the out of control spread of COVID-19 across the state.

Boulder County Moving to Level Red

Boulder County is one of 15 that will be in the Red Level as of Friday, Nov. 20th, including Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, and six others in rural areas.

The new restrictions that go into effect at the end of the week require the following steps:

  • Personal gatherings of any size will not be allowed, which is a reduction from the previous 10 people from two households
  • High schools are suggested to use hybrid or remote learning.
  • Restaurants will have to close indoor dining instead of operating at 25% capacity or 50 people. Take out, curbside delivery or to go will still be permitted.
  • Outdoor, open-air restaurant seating is allowed with a group from one household
  • Office capacity moves down from 25% to 10%; with remote working still strongly encouraged
  • Gym capacity moves from 25% to 10% capacity.

Tuesday, Nov. 17th, Boulder County added another 208 coronavirus cases, bringing the county to 8,910 cases to date, and 108 residents have died from the virus. Currently, 91 people hospitalized — the largest single-day number recorded in the county.

CU Boulder transitioned to fully remote learning Monday, and Boulder Valley School District transitioned to fully remote learning Tuesday, Nov. 17th.

Perlmutter Tests Positive

In related news, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Democrat from Arvada, has tested positive for COVID-19. In a written statement Perlmutter said that as of now, he is asymptomatic and feeling good.

He is in Washington D.C. and will isolate in his apartment while working and voting remotely. Representative Perlmutter said that the diagnosis serves as a reminder of the importance to take the virus seriously and that he has been taking precautions over the last eight months.

Tuesday, Nov. 17th COVID-19 Updates:

Starting Friday, November 20th the following counties are moving to Level Red:

  • Adams
  • Arapahoe
  • Boulder
  • Broomfield
  • Clear Creek
  • Denver
  • Douglas
  • Jefferson
  • La Plata
  • Logan
  • Mesa
  • Morgan
  • Routt
  • Summit
  • Washington

Governor Urges People to Work from Home as Virus Infections Spike

Sunday, Nov. 15th, hospitals in Colorado reported a spike in admissions due to the coronavirus. 220 new patients were hospitalized over the last 24 hours, leading to a record of nearly 1,300 people currently in hospital across the state.

Twenty-one people in Colorado died yesterday from the infection.

On Sunday Governor Jared Polis and local leaders, including the mayors of Denver and Aurora, urged Coloradans to work from home as much as possible in the coming weeks to stop the spread of the virus.

The Denver Post reports that Polis and other leaders are reluctant to issue new stay-at-home orders even as the virus surges.  They are concerned about the economic impacts of a second shutdown which would occur this time without supplemental unemployment benefits available from the federal government.

When Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order in March, he did so with the knowledge that federal coronavirus relief – including weekly unemployment benefits and small business loans – would support many residents who would be facing joblessness, hunger, housing instability, and mental health crises.

But things are even worse today than when most retail businesses were shut down for more than a month earlier this year.  This time there’s no federal financial safety net, since Congress has failed to agree on a new stimulus package.

Polis told the Denver Post that he could not have taken the steps he did to contain the virus in March and April without knowing that people would be receiving money from the federal government, rental assistance and loans to small businesses.

He added that it’s unfair to ask people to not to be able to pay rent and put food on the table.

In the meantime, the state is seeing more than 4,000 new cases on average every day, and on Sunday reported a 13% positivity rate among those who were tested — much higher than the recommended 5% ceiling.

On Saturday, Polis’s office ordered hospitals to create plans to increase their capacity by opening up unused space and augmenting their staffing.

The Daily Camera reports that he also ordered the State Emergency Operations Center to return to Level 1, which brings together all state agencies, federal partners and the voluntary organizations that serve the state’s communities in crisis.

Boulder Infections Hit Record High

In Boulder County, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases reached a record of 321 reported on Saturday, Nov. 15th, and CU Boulder showing 22 new positives tests on Friday, Nov. 13th.

New COVID-19 Restrictions for Boulder County 

Boulder County will be under new COVID-19 restrictions starting Saturday, November 14th.

According to state data, new cases of COVID-19 among Boulder County residents in the past two weeks are about 557 per 100,000 residents. The stay-at-home metric begins below that – at 350 cases per 100,000 people, and that means Boulder County is well into the “red zone” in terms of incidence. The Boulder County Public Health Department says cases are over 182 per day locally.

The new public health order will remain in effect until December 14, unless the county opts to extend it.

The order will mean further restrictions on restaurant operations and indoor events. Also, no spectators are allowed at any adult sporting events, high school games, professional league games or University of Colorado Boulder football games. Employers in Boulder County are being encouraged to allow employees to work from home as much as possible.

The order is just short of another stay-at-home order, which the governor has said he’s reluctant to impose. 

Masks Not Provided to Jail Inmates in El Paso County

Inmates at the El Paso County Jail – the site of the 2nd largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the state – were not consistently provided masks before they began falling ill.

The Denver Post reports that until last week, inmates generally were not provided masks unless they were walking through the facility or going to court. They were not provided masks to wear in their housing units unless the jail’s medical provider decided an inmate should have one.

The failure to provide masks is in violation of guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says states facilities should provide all inmates with masks at no cost and frequently wash them.

Boulder County Reports Second Largest Daily Growth in COVID-19 Cases 

Boulder County reported 290 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, Nov. 11th. That’s the second-largest one-day case number ever recorded in the county, slightly less than the 292 cases reported on Nov. 5th. As of this morning, Boulder County remains on what’s called the Orange Level Safer-at-Home but county officials plan to announce new restrictions Thursday afternoon.

BVSD Moves to Remote Learning, SVVSD Decision Coming Soon 

More school districts are moving to all remote learning due to the increase in virus cases, including the Boulder Valley Schools. The St. Vrain District has delayed that decision until next week. St. Vrain Superintendent Don Haddad says the district will make the decision at a special meeting on Nov. 18th. Haddad told the St. Vrain school board Wednesday that the district is not seeing high case numbers within the schools but the increasing caseload in the community means that going to all remote learning after Thanksgiving is a “very very real possibility.”

Colorado’s Economy Continues to Struggle from the Pandemic

Colorado business is showing more signs of a recovery from the COVID-19 economic slump.

Leeds Business Research Division at CU Boulder reports that nearly 39,000 new businesses filed initial documents with the secretary of state’s office in the third quarter of this year. This is up 24% from last year. While 150,000 businesses filed for renewals. That is up nearly 6%.

Filings for businesses that are closing also rose significantly.

Leeds also said that quarterly indicators are often early signs of jobs and business growth but the Colorado economy is not back to its prerecession status as the pandemic continues.

Panelists were leaning more on the pessimistic side but are feeling better about the economy than they did at the beginning of 2020.

Other figures show that Colorado’s unemployment picture continues to improve, with a rate of 6.4% in September, compared to 12.2% in April.

There are about 80% fewer oil and gas drilling rigs in Colorado than there were in October of last year.

And home price growth is slowing but still remains higher than wages and inflation.

Local Health Officials Urge State to Take More Aggressive Steps to Control the Virus 

Local public health officials are urging the state to take more aggressive steps to control outbreaks of the coronavirus including imposing stay-at-home orders.

The Denver Post reports that county health officers, including Jeff Zayak of Boulder Public health, and Bill Burman of Denver’s agency, say that the county-by-county approach worked earlier in the summer; but now, the transmission of COVID-19 is so widespread that it’s not possible to use those more local measures and be successful in controlling the disease.

However, state officials are reluctant to issue another statewide lockdown, preferring local governments to take the lead.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement that local agencies can enact guidance that is stricter than the state’s and they do not need approval to do that. The department said that it would support local orders to stay at home, if made.

Some counties have surpassed the threshold for level red that would impose a lockdown, but they have not yet been moved to that most severe level of restrictions.

The county health officers wrote that, while they appreciate that the state is being cautious, they fear the failure to impose stricter orders now will do more harm than good.

Colorado reported nearly 3,400 new cases of coronavirus Nov. 10th, and hospitalizations continued to reach record levels. More than 1,100 people with the virus are in hospitals, and 84% of the state’s intensive-care unit beds are in use.

Boulder County Officials Address Council About COVID-19 

The Boulder County Health Department updated the Boulder City Council on the status of COVID-19 in the community Nov. 10th and it wasn’t good. Like the rest of the state and country, cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health Executive, said local hospitalizations are consistently increasing.

“Unfortunately the news I bring you today is worse than the news I brought you last time. We are clearly headed in the wrong direction in Boulder County. This is obviously not a Boulder County, not even just a state problem or a regional problem. We are seeing this happen nationally, and we are coming to a critical juncture here in Boulder County. We are now in record new territory,” Zayach said.

Zayach noted that the number of new cases in Boulder County is the highest in Longmont, followed by Boulder. He said there were about 60 hospitalizations when the virus was at its peak in the spring, but is now higher, with 89 people hospitalized in Boulder County on Tuesday. He acknowledged that COVID-19 fatigue is real, and said he hears about calls to the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

“I want people to know I get calls from our Chamber. They talk about businesses that are calling up and they are in tears because they can’t make it another day, or another week. They’re losing their businesses, they’re losing their livelihoods.  They can’t meet the needs of their families and the individual decisions that people make are going to absolutely drive what happens in these communities, and it’s going to have a significant impact.  We have to take it seriously.  We have to social distance. We have to not gather. I know this is difficult going into the fall. But it’s critical and it’s really critical right now,” said Zayach.

The number of people in Boulder County currently infected by COVID-19 is one in 100 residents.

Boulder Valley School District Moving to Remote Learning 

The Boulder Valley School District will switch to all remote learning starting Nov. 17 because of “skyrocketing” coronavirus case numbers.

The Daily Camera reports that Superintendent Rob Anderson announced the move at yesterday’s school board meeting.

The district is now operating on a hybrid learning model, with elementary students attending four days in person, middle school attending two days and high school attending one day.

However, as of next Tuesday, Nov.17th, students will be using remote learning through at least Jan. 5 which is the end of winter break. After Thanksgiving, the district will review case rates and consider bringing back students with intensive special needs.

Anderson said case increases have stretched the contact tracing capabilities of both the health department and the district team, overwhelming the district to the point they can’t keep up — and likely can’t implement quarantines quickly enough to control spread.

Polis Extends Mask Rule, Implements Remote Work for State Employees and Discusses Vaccine

Governor Polis is extending the mandatory mask order for another thirty days. In a statement issued Monday, Nov. 9th, the Governor said again that wearing a mask is a scientifically proven way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The rule requires every person age 11 and up to cover their nose and mouth when entering and moving within a public indoor space. A mask is also required when waiting for and when using public transportation and transportation services like taxis and rideshares.

Many Colorado counties, including most in the metro area have implemented stricter mask requirements, including outdoors when within six feet of another person.

Polis also announced Monday the 9th that all state employees will work remotely through the end of November if they are in counties with high levels of the virus.

Polis added Monday that Colorado could receive up to 200,000 doses of a new vaccine by the end of the year. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced Monday that their new vaccine was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19. However, that announcement was based on interim testing results. More testing is required and the vaccine does not have FDA-approval.

Some Local School Switch to Remote Learning While Others Continue Hybrid Model 

The rise in COVID-19 cases in metro Denver has one large school district moving to all remote learning.

Adams 12 will move to all remote learning on Nov. 16th. The district includes Thornton, Northglenn and parts of Broomfield and Westminster. Adams 12 was already using remote learning only for grades six through 12 but they are now eliminating in-person learning for younger grades as well due to the rise in COVID-19.

Boulder Valley and St Vrain School Districts continue to offer a mix of remote and in-person classes but several individual schools have moved to remote-only in response to COVID-19 outbreaks. The latest is Monarch High School in Louisville which will move to all remote learning today, Nov. 10th. Boulder High and Eisenhower Elementary moved to remote learning in late October and Manhattan Middle School went all-remote last Wednesday.

With Record High Virus Hospitalizations Boulder County Considers New Stay-at-Home Order

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at a record high in Boulder County and overall case levels may put the county under a stay-at-home order.

County health officials said Monday that in the past 14 days, the COVID-19 case rate was 458 cases per 100,000 people. That puts Boulder County in the “red zone” under state guidelines and qualifies for moving to tighter stay-at-home restrictions. But that is only one of the measurements the state uses when determining the level of restriction. Boulder County health officials are expected to meet with state officials to discuss a mitigation plan.

Coronavirus Hospitalizations Rise to Highest Point in State

The number of coronavirus hospitalizations in Colorado jumped to more than 1,000 on Sunday, Nov.8th – the most the state has seen since the pandemic started.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the 7-day positivity rate of infections is above 11 percent which is nearly three times higher than it was four weeks ago.

Jon Samet, of the Colorado School of Public Health, said that the capacity of intensive care units could be exceeded in late December if the state stays on the same trajectory

Boulder County on Saturday reported 96 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths. CU Boulder reported 32 positive test results on Friday.

Curfew Measure Goes into Effect in Denver

In Denver a public health measure requiring people to be home by 10 p.m. is now in effect in hopes it will curb the spread of the virus and avoid another stay-at-home order.

According to the order, public and private gatherings of people who are not members of a single household are prohibited. The measure will stay in place from 10 p.m. through 5 a.m. daily, for a month; however, it will be temporarily suspended on Thursday, Nov. 26 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley School Districts Continue Hybrid Models

The Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley school districts are continuing to offer in-person classes using hybrid models after the County moved to Safer at Home Level Orange last week (Nov. 1st – 8th).

The state recently clarified that school districts have the final say on whether to continue with in-person options or move to 100% remote.

Along the Front Range, several school districts have decided to scale back in-person classes.

At least six Colorado school districts have reported outbreaks of COVID among transportation employees, and some of the outbreaks are larger than those reported in most schools.

Chalkbeat reports that while the trend hasn’t prompted a change of safety guidelines, it complicates the challenge of providing busing for students learning in person.

COVID-19 Cases Increase at Aurora Immigration Detention Center

At the immigration detention center in Aurora, more than 100 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19, with cases increasing 64% since the end of September.

The Denver Post reports that 31 detainees are currently isolated to prevent the virus from spreading.

ICE also reported two of its Aurora employees tested positive, but didn’t include employees of the GEO Group, which is contracted to run the facility.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has reported 22 combined staff cases, and Rep. Jason Crow’s office has tracked 28.

Courts in Boulder Will Postpone Civil Trials and Jeffco Halts All Trials

Boulder County has once again put a halt to all jury trials until at least January because of the surge of COVID-19 cases.

All civil jury trials except those involving child neglect will be continued until at least July 19.

District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in a statement that his staff has continued to take important criminal cases to trial.

A small outbreak of the coronavirus among court staff in Jefferson and Gilpin counties has led to the suspension of all jury trials until January 18.

Three court employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and 12 additional staff members have been quarantined.

Earlier this month Denver’s courts announced that jury trials will be on hold through the end of the year.

Boulder County Moves to Safer at Home Restrictions

Beginning Friday, November 6th, Boulder County will move to the strictest phase of Safer at Home restrictions due to rising coronavirus numbers, putting the area on the verge of a return to stay-at-home orders.

Meanwhile, the state reports that 10,700 new unemployment claims were filed in Colorado last week, the highest number since July. Colorado unemployment filings increased 25 percent this week as stricter rules were enacted to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Boulder County Public Health officials said the county was informed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that it would be moved to safer at Home Level Orange, formerly known as Level 3. According to state data, new cases of COVID-19 among Boulder County residents in the past two weeks is about 300 per 100,000 people. Safer at Home Level Orange begins at 175 cases per a 100,000 population and stay-at-home begins at 350 cases per 100,000 population. So Boulder County is very close to reverting to a stay-at-home order.

CU Boulder Responds to Virus Surge By Shifting to Remote Learning

As coronavirus cases surge locally, CU Boulder announced Thursday, Nov. 5th, that it will shift to remote learning for the remainder of the semester starting Nov. 16. Classes were scheduled to go remote after Thanksgiving but switching to remote learning earlier gives students the chance to return home before Thanksgiving.

State COVID-19 Outbreaks Continue Reaching Record Levels

Colorado is on track to set another record number of COVID-19 outbreaks this week.

The state health department reported 587 outbreaks Wednesday, Nov. 4th. That breaks the previous week’s record for the fourth week in a row.

An outbreak is defined as at least two cases linked to the same location or event.

The largest outbreaks are at universities, jails and prisons. These include CU-Boulder with over 1800 cases, including 45 new cases this week and Colorado State University with almost 700 cases, including 112 new cases. The El Paso County jail reported 755 cases and the Van Cise-Simonet detention center in Denver reports almost 750 cases.

Boulder County Increases Restrictions Due to Spike in Virus Cases

Boulder County is moving to tighten restrictions due to a rapid rise in new COVID cases.

The county health department on Wednesday, Nov. 4th, moved to what’s called High Risk Safer at Home Level Orange. That means new restrictions for businesses and a general recommendation to avoid all social gatherings if possible.

Personal gatherings are still limited to ten people from no more than two households. Masks and social distancing are required indoors and within six feet of others.

Businesses are now limited to 25% capacity or less depending on the size of their space. The new rules go into effect on Friday.

State data shows Boulder County reporting 312 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks. Level Orange restrictions kick in when there are 175 cases per 100,000.

In a statement, Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach called this new more restrictive phase “devasting” and urged all residents to avoid social gatherings, wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands.

For schools, Safer At Home Level Orange means remote, hybrid or limited in-person learning. Boulder County Public Health supports the current models in place in the Boulder Valley and St. Vrain School Districts.

 

More Coloradans Facing Hunger

About 30% of Coloradans in a new poll say they can’t afford regular meals, a rate that’s tripled since the start of COVID-19.

Advocates are urging lawmakers to increase food assistance programs to help. The survey on hunger in Colorado also shows that among people of color, almost 40-percent are struggling to put food on the table, compared to 25% of whites. Ellie Agar with Hunger Free Colorado, which released the report, notes that Blacks and Latinos were disproportionately affected by the pandemic on all fronts.

“They might have had underlying health concerns that led to higher rates of not only sickness, but actually death during the pandemic. And a lot of that does have some systemic roots, in just lack of access to regular food or healthcare,” she said.

Hunger Free Colorado is calling on Congress to boost SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, by 15-percent for the foreseeable future and continue emergency pandemic allotments, and to prioritize food assistance in any COVID relief package.

Denver Returns to More Restrictions to Fight COVID-19

Tuesday, Oct. 27th, the city of Denver moved to the second highest level of COVID-19 restrictions in an effort to curb the growth of the virus and avoid overwhelming hospitals. Most businesses will be allowed to operate at only a quarter of their capacity with a maximum of 50 people.

Mayor Michael Hancock announced that the state health department had asked the city to tighten its restrictions after weeks of climbing coronavirus cases and rising hospitalizations.

The Denver Post reports that Denver Public Schools announced that many of the district’s elementary students will go back to remote learning after they had just returned to their classrooms.

According to Chalkbeat Colorado, students in third through fifth grades will return to online learning beginning Monday and attend classes virtually through the end of November.

Hancock said that he does not believe that Denver is failing, but claims the resurgence on the lack of a national strategy to contain the virus.

State and public health officials repeated warnings Tuesday that Colorado’s hospitals are under pressure, and the number of patients could exceed available beds by the end of the year.

Governor Jared Polis said that if we don’t do better in the state, many more Coloradans will die unnecessarily.

On Monday, 98 people were hospitalized in Denver, which is more than twice the number at the start of the month. Seventy-seven percent of intensive-care beds were occupied.

Boulder County recorded 35 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, and the University of Colorado Boulder counted eight.

Boulder County May Face Stricter Coronavirus Orders

Boulder County may be facing stricter measures to curb increasing rates of the coronavirus.

In a press release on Monday, Boulder County Public Health reported that they may need to move the county to Safer at Home Level 3 on the state Dial. That would restrict the number of people who can be at a business, restaurant, or workplace. It would also decrease gathering sizes for events and fitness activities.

As of Monday, new cases of COVID-19 among Boulder County residents in the past two weeks is 174.5 per 100,000, up from 135.7 last Thursday, Oct. 22. Safer at Home Level 3 begins at 175 per 100,000 population. T

Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director, said Monday that “It’s no surprise that more Boulder County residents are testing positive for COVID-19 since we’re seeing statewide and national surges, unfortunately, this is pushing us toward the possibility of needing to restrict how many people can be in shared areas.”

Denver Considers Tighter Coronavirus Restrictions

Denver warned residents on Monday that there could be more stay-at-home orders due to rising coronavirus cases. The Denver Post reports that the warning came as public health officials said the odds any given person somebody encounters in Colorado is contagious with the coronavirus are now nearly as high as they were in April.

The Colorado School of Public Health estimated about one in every 292 people in the state is currently contagious.

Aurora Mayor Tests Positive for COVID-19

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said yesterday that he tested positive for COVID-19 and will quarantine until he is free of the virus.

The Denver Post reports that the news prompted Gov. Jared Polis — who was with Coffman on Oct. 15 — to consider quarantining, but state health officials determined he did not need to do so, because there was no risk to the governor of being exposed from the mayor.

Mayor Coffman said on Twitter that he did not feel well on Thursday with a very mild cold and cough.  A rapid test Saturday was positive.

The mayor’s results come as coronavirus cases are on the rise in Colorado and including Aurora.

On Friday the Tri-County Health Department announced it was increasing restrictions on businesses and residents — moving Adams county from a Level 2 alert to a Level 3  — because of “skyrocketing” cases.

Also on Friday, Colorado health officials issued an order limiting gatherings in the state to no more than 10 people, and those are limited to persons from only two separate households. The order goes into effect immediately and lasts for at least 30 days.

The Colorado Sun reports that residents were previously allowed to gather in groups of up to 25 people with no limit on how many households they could come from.

Under the new order, there is no limit on gatherings of members of the same household. But people must postpone–at least for the time being–gathering in parks, backyards or indoors with a few other couples to socialize.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Colorado’s top epidemiologist, has warned that if the trend in new cases is not reversed, the state’s intensive-care hospital bed capacity could be surpassed in the coming months.

CU Boulder Announces Plans for Next Semester

University of Colorado Boulder officials announced Friday that there will not be a traditional spring break next semester.

Not having the vacation is an effort to prevent a surge in cases similar to what happened this fall.

The Daily Camera reports that Chief Operations Officer, Pat O’Rourke, said that, students traveling for spring break could be very taxing on mental health, if they were to spread the virus and cause a spike.

Students are not returning to campus after Thanksgiving in November and will finish the semester through all-remote learning. The spring semester will begin Jan. 14, three days later than normal, and the campus will have two additional mid-week “wellness days.”

CU Boulder Cancels Spring Break for 2021

The University of Colorado in Boulder announced Thursday, Oct. 23rd, that the spring 2021 semester would go ahead in a similar model to the current semester where students will have a mixture of in-person, remote and hybrid courses. Spring break is canceled however and instead, the semester will start on Thursday, Jan. 14, three days later than previously planned, with two days off for students on Feb. 17 and March 25.

State Officials Say Virus Cases Continuing to Spike

Cases of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the state and  Colorado Governor Jared Polis is continuing to sound the alarm.

At a news conference Tuesday, Oct. 20th, Polis warned that the number of people currently hospitalized is equivalent to nearly a quarter of the state’s intensive care bed capacity. According to Polis, currently, hospitalizations have reached 417, their highest since May 23. The Colorado Sun reports state health officials say not all of those patients are in intensive-care beds. But statistics show the potential burden on the healthcare system should those people become more ill and should more people require hospitalization because of the disease.

The governor said the trend is worrisome because Colorado’s health care system could eventually be overwhelmed if it continues. Polis added the state cannot go on as it has and the status quo is not acceptable. He says residents need to do a better job of wearing masks around others, staying apart from others, and reducing social interactions.

Colorado’s seven-day average of new coronavirus cases — at just under 1,000 — has eclipsed anything the state has seen since the start of the pandemic.

The state’s test positivity rate is above 5%, indicating the virus is spreading at an alarming rate, and it’s not just that more cases are being identified.

In Boulder County, a new coronavirus-related death was recorded yesterday, while current hospitalizations reached their highest number since May 1.

Hospitalizations Due to Coronavirus Rise in Denver and Colorado

The number of people currently hospitalized in the state is 348, and the state’s seven-day, moving average positivity rate is well above 5 percent according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The City of Denver issued two new orders Friday, Oct.16th. Gatherings are now limited to five people and mask wearing is required in all outdoor settings.

Organized athletic programs — like college and high school sports, as well as organized youth and adult leagues — are exempt from the expanded order. People who are by themselves are also exempt.

The Colorado Sun reports that Denver’s announcement comes as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are rising in Denver and across Colorado. Health officials are sounding the alarm, saying if the trajectory isn’t altered hospitals could eventually be overwhelmed.

COVID-19 Cases Continue to Grow Statewide

State health officials say that Colorado has more active COVID-19 outbreaks now than any time since the pandemic began.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 274 active COVID-19 cases.

An outbreak is defined as two or more cases linked to the same location or event within two weeks.

State officials say we are now experiencing a “third wave” of the virus.

The Denver Post reports that as of Wednesday, there were 317 confirmed COVID-19 patients in Colorado hospitals — a 59% jump since Oct. 1 and the highest number since late May. Seventy-seven percent of the state’s available intensive care unit beds were in use Wednesday, though the state does not track how many of those are coronavirus patients.

City of Boulder Amends Public Health Order Governing Alcohol Sales

On Wednesday, Oct. 14th, the City of Boulder repealed its emergency order prohibiting on-premises alcohol sales after 10 p.m.

The order issued on Sept. 24,  prohibited alcohol sales at bars, restaurants and clubs between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. as part of a series of public health orders targeted towards 18-22-year-olds.

From 5pm Wednesday, on-premises alcohol service may now end at 11 p.m. in adherence to a State of Colorado public health order.

In a statement, the city says it will work in partnership with health officials to monitor and provide updates on COVID-19.

Polis Warns the State to Get Virus Transmission Under Control

On Tuesday, Oct. 13th, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said that residents need to take immediate action to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Colorado’s rate of positive tests has risen above five percent.

At a news conference from the governor’s mansion, Polis said that the state has to get the situation under control now, and we have to do better.

On Tuesday, Colorado recorded more than 1,000 new cases, which was preceded on Saturday when the state recorded more than 1,000 for the first time in a single day. The Colorado Sun reports that hospitalizations were 290 yesterday, their highest rate since May.

While the World Health Organization says that a positivity rate above five percent suggests a need for restrictions on people’s movements, Polis didn’t address a question as to whether he’s considering new mandates to slow the spread.

Instead, the governor asked Coloradans to change their behavior to reverse the trend — go out less, put off gatherings, wear masks more frequently and ensure they are washing their hands as often as possible.

The governor said the majority of Colorado’s new cases are in Denver and Adams counties, and he praised Boulder County for reversing its trajectory of rising cases stemming from an outbreak among students at the University of Colorado.

Boulder 18-22 Year-Olds Can Gather in Groups of 6

In Boulder County, the Public Health Department is relaxing some restrictions on 18- to 22-year-olds and allowing gatherings of up to six people.

The Daily Camera reports that the loosening of the previous two-person-gathering restriction comes due to the fewer coronavirus cases and lower positivity test rates. A surge in September had led to the stricter requirement.

Boulder County has seen a significant drop in new cases even in the past week, Health Director Jeff Zayach said. However, the county’s current positivity rate is slightly above six percent.

Officials at CU and the County said the progress made could easily be lost if members of the age group flaunt safety measures that prevent the disease from spreading.

Denver Public Schools Delay Reopening for Middle and High Schoolers

Denver middle and high schools will continue with virtual learning into November. The school district had planned to reopen schools to those students in a week.

But Chalkbeat reports that an internal memo says the district now plans to reopen middle and high schools on Nov. 9 at the earliest with two exceptions that will open in a week: programs that serve students with disabilities, and students new to the United States.

Denver elementary schools will reopen on schedule next week. The district has been gradually bringing back those younger students in recent weeks. Public health data shows COVID-19 infections are lower among young children than in teenagers.

In an email to staff yesterday, Superintendent Susana Cordova said that it was not an easy decision to make and she knew the delay would be a disappointment to many secondary students and staff.

Statewide Mask Order to Be Extended 

Governor Jared Polis said on Friday that he is the most worried he has been since mid-July about the upward trajectory in hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients.

Polis announced that he plans to extend the statewide mask mandate for another 30 days as hospitalizations continue to increase.

The governor noted that the recent growth in patients has been driven by white Coloradans while minority groups including Black, Hispanic and Native Americans have been overrepresented since the pandemic began.

Polis challenged Coloradans to reduce the number of people they see every day in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

All Deaths Increased During First Six Months of Pandemic

In related news, the number of all deaths in Colorado jumped twenty percent during the first six months of the pandemic.

An analysis by the Denver Post showed that almost 3,800 more residents died than would be expected. The number reflects the outbreak’s toll on human life even beyond those killed directly by the virus.

While the increase is largely due to COVID-19, other causes– including overdoses, cirrhosis, heart disease, diabetes and Alzhermers’–also saw significant spikes.

There are various reasons for the increased deaths.  Some people may have died from COVID-19, but were never diagnosed because testing, especially during the early days of the pandemic, was limited. Other deaths may include people who delayed getting care because they were afraid to visit a hospital or doctor’s office.

The increase in deaths across a broad range of illnesses and diseases, is an indication of the sweeping changes the pandemic has wrought on everyday life.

BVSD Changes In-Person Learning Timeline

Students in the Boulder Valley School District will return to in person school sooner than anticipated. The Daily Camera reports that at the school board meeting Oct. 8th the district superintendent announced the new timeline for students to return to classes in person.

Third through fifth grade, sixth grade and ninth grade students will now be back in person Oct. 20. The rest of the middle and high school students can attend in person starting Oct. 27. Elementary students are in person four days, middle schoolers two days and high schoolers one day.

K-2 students returned four days a week to in-person classes Sept. 29.

Families also will continue to have the option to keep their children remote only.

Public health officials from Boulder County and Broomfield County presented updated data at last night’s meeting showing that new cases of the coronavirus are significantly down at CU Boulder. Both health departments supported the district’s current plan.

Spike in Coronavirus Cases at ICE Detention Facility in Aurora

Aurora’s Immigration facility is confirming that cases of COVID-19 have about doubled this month among detainees.

The Sentinel reports that as of Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said there were 37 confirmed cases among detained immigrants. That’s up from 21 cases counted in a Sept. 30 report.

The office of Aurora Congressman Jason Crow originally reported GEO Group Inc., which runs the ICE facility, had ruled out the possibility that someone transferred into the facility brought COVID-19. Congressman Crow said he is left wondering how it get there.

Alethea Smock, a regional spokesperson for ICE, said that the count only pertains to detainees and did not say if the outbreak includes agency or GEO staff.

Colorado People’s Alliance, an immigrant justice group based in Aurora, condemned the outbreak Thursday, Oct. 8th, and are calling for the release of all immigrants detained in the facility.

In-Person Teaching to Resume at CU Boulder

CU Boulder announced Wednesday, Oct. 7th, it would resume in person classes next Wednesday October 14th. The announcement came on the same day that Boulder County Public Health announced two new public health orders targeted at college-aged people.

One order announced Wednesday is regarding gathering sizes for young adults aged 18 to 22 and the other for collegiate group homes.

The first order outlines four levels for gatherings among 18-22-year-old individuals in the City of Boulder, ranging from no gatherings at all, to gatherings of six individuals for a private gathering or attendance at regulated events. The rules do not apply to in person learning in schools and colleges.

The second public health order says that collegiate group homes, fraternities and sororities can be released from the stay at home order after October 12 if they submit a plan for isolation, disinfection and infection prevention. That plan must then be approved by Boulder County Public Health.

CSU Battles Spike in Coronavirus Cases

Colorado State University in Fort Collins is now dealing with a campus-wide outbreak of the coronavirus with 375 cases confirmed. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said last week that 33 cases at CSU were linked to six fraternities and sororities.

Statewide there are 23 outbreaks of the coronavirus connected to colleges including Colorado College in Colorado Springs and Regis University in Denver.

State Officials Concerned About Rise in COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Colorado officials expressed concern on Tuesday, Oct. 6th, about the alarming increase in the number of people hospitalized in the state with the coronavirus.

Governor Jared Polis cautioned that care for patients could be affected if the number of hospitalizations continues to rise.

As of Tuesday, close to 80 percent of the intensive care beds in the state were in use.

At a news conference, Polis said Colorado is at a critical juncture and cannot continue this trend. He said that the state must do better which means doubling down on wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, and keeping activities outside where possible.

As Thanksgiving and the holidays approach, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s epidemiologist, said that the position the state is going to be in during the season depends heavily on the level of disease transmission in the next couple of weeks.

The Denver Post reports that the number of new cases of COVID-19 dropped slightly last week, partly due to a decrease in infections among people ages 18 to 25. But excluding that age group, there is still a high level of transmission as new cases were flat compared to the prior week.

Boulder County Sees Encouraging COVID-19 Trends

In Boulder County there are some “positive data trends” on the pandemic, according to the Boulder County Public Health Department. Director Jeff Zayach told Boulder City Council Tuesday, Oct. 6th, that the huge spike among college students when they returned to the CU campus in late August is on the decline.

“We are seeing individual behavior change and that is indicated in some of the data we are tracking on a more frequent basis like looking at activity on the Hill, the number of referrals that are going into disciplinary at the University. Some of those kinds of things. So I just want to say how important it is that we continue this trend,” he said.

CU Boulder was the site of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in the state, but as of yesterday reported zero new positive tests, while Boulder County had 17 cases.

A CU spokesman said there has been a change in behavior among college students, noting that there were no referrals from police of health code violations last weekend.

CU leaders will meet with county health officials this afternoon to discuss whether students can return to in-person classes after a two-week ban that prohibited gatherings of 18-to-22-year olds and imposed strict stay-at-home orders on more than 35 properties largely affiliated with fraternities and sororities.

The number of people hospitalized in Colorado with the coronavirus rose to the highest level since July according to data released Monday, Oct. 5th, by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The figures also show that new cases of the virus may have leveled off after a four-week rise.

More than 3,694 new cases were reported in the state the week that ended Sunday, Oct. 4th, down 500 infections from the previous week.

As of Monday afternoon, Oct. 5th, 233 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19, a 67% increase from one month earlier.

On Monday, Oct. 5th, the Boulder County Public Health Department said the county is out of the “red” zone for the rate of coronavirus. 18 new cases and no new deaths were reported Monday.

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.