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Colorado coronavirus latest, May 15: Great Sand Dunes will begin phased reopening June 3

The health department will report two categories: those who died from COVID-19, and those who had COVID-19 and may have died from another cause.

COLORADO, USA — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on Friday changed the way it's reporting cases.

CDPHE will now break up reported cases in two categories:

  • The number of deaths among people with COVID-19, which represents the total number of deaths reported among people who have COVID-19 but for whom COVID-19 might not have been the cause of death listed on the death certificate.
  • The number of deaths among people who died from COVID-19, which represents the total number of people whose death was attributed to COVID-19 as indicated on a death certificate.

The change comes the same day that Gov. Jared Polis addressed a letter from Rep. Mark Baisley (R-Roxborough Park) requesting 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler investigate Jill Ryan, executive director of CDPHE. Baisley alleges in the letter that Ryan and CDPHE falsely inflated the number of COVID-19-related deaths by overruling death findings by attending physicians in cases where patients also tested positive for COVID-19.

At a news conference on Friday, Polis said state officials should rely on the ruling from the coroner or physicians and that "nobody behind a desk should ever second-guess a coroner or an attending physician that lists the cause of death on a certificate."

As of Friday afternoon, the state is reporting 1,150 deaths among cases and 878 deaths due to COVID-19.

FULL STORY: 'Not who died with COVID-19, but who died of COVID-19': Polis addresses questions about CDPHE death reports

Great Sand Dunes National Park announced they will begin a phased reopening on June 3.

In addition, Denver will resume some parking enforcement on June 1, and Jeffco Public Library will test curbside pickup this weekend. 

Those are among the coronavirus updates for the state Friday. More details are below, and we'll continue to post information as it comes in throughout the day.

> In the video above, 9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli talks about masks under development that could change color if they detect COVID-19.

WHAT TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Click/tap here to read updates from May 14.

Great Sand Dunes National Park to begin phased reopening

Friday, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve announced a plan to begin a phased reopening on June 3. 

On that date, the dune field, main park road, Medano Pass Primitive Road (including established campsites), trails and picnic areas will open. 

By mid-June, the park said they expect to reopen the Pinon Flats Campground and begin issuing backcountry permits. 

The visitor's center will remain closed until further notice, according to the park. 

City of Loveland implementing more furloughs, reduced hours

Due to revenue losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Loveland said they will be implementing more furloughs and reduced work hours for city employees. 

The cuts affect more than 40 employees in the city’s recreation, cultural services and library operations, according to a release. 

Denver to resume some parking enforcement on June 1

The Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) plans to restart some parking enforcement June 1, but it won't look quite the same as it did before the stay-at-home order.

DOTI will take a revised approach to help support access to businesses that are resuming operations for the first time since March, according to a release.

Starting June 1:

  • People parking downtown must pay parking meters between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. and adhere to posted time limits during those times. Downtown parking meters will be free from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
  • Outside of downtown, parking meters and posted time limits return to normal.
  • Residents who are eligible for residential parking permits should apply at parksmartdenver.com. For those who are eligible but can't provide necessary documentation due to COVID-19, DOTI can issue a 90-day temporary permit.

Starting July 1:

  • Street sweeping will resume, along with the enforcement of posted parking restrictions that go along with it.
  • Enforcement of 72-hour parking limits will resume. Residents should move vehicles that are parked in one spot for three days.

Areas where enforcement will remain suspended:

  • Large vehicle parking on the street in non-residential areas.
  • Parking in school bus loading zones.
  • Booting: Cars won't be booted until further notice.
  • Street paving: DOTI won't issue citations to people whose vehicles need to be towed for street paving operations.

Group protesting Tri-County Health Department on Friday

According to a Facebook event titled "End Tri-County's Attack on Citizens," a protest was planned against the Tri-County Health Department at noon Friday.

"They have repeatedly threatened peaceful restaurant owners with fines and imprisonment for nothing more than trying to save their businesses and homes," the details section of the event reads.

The Tri-County Health Department services Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

Jeffco Public Library to test curbside pickup this weekend

The Jefferson County Public Library plans to test curbside services this weekend by appointment only at the Standley Lake Library, according to an email sent by the library system.

Patrons who have materials on hold at the Standley Lake Library, at 8485 Kipling St. in Arvada, were sent emails inviting them to schedule an appointment for a curbside pickup. Those patrons will receive information on where to park, how to verify their library card information and steps on how to pick up their materials.

The Jeffco Public Library says that the Jefferson County Department of Public Health reviewed the process. The library system hopes to expand the curbside service to eight libraries by the end of May. The plan on how to return checked-out materials is coming next week, the library system says in the email.

Coronavirus cases in Colorado

CDPHE on May 15 changed the way it was reporting data in two ways:

  • The number of deaths among people with COVID-19. This represents the total number of deaths reported among people who have COVID-19, but COVID-19 may not have been the cause of death listed on the death certificate. This information is required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is crucial for public health surveillance, as it provides more information about disease transmission and can help identify risk factors among all deaths across populations.
  • The number of deaths among people who died from COVID-19: This represents the total number of people whose death was attributed to COVID-19 as indicated on a death certificate. This number is determined by the CDC and is updated daily for dates through the previous Saturday.

In Colorado, CDPHE reports 21,232 people have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, up from 20,838 the day prior.

Fatalities

CDPHE reports:

  • 1,150 deaths among people with COVID-19
  • 878 deaths due to COVID-19

The day prior, 1,091 people had died.

The majority of deaths — 54% — are among people over age 80; 23% of deaths occurred in people between ages 70-79 and 13% were in people ages 60-69.

The graph below shows the total number of people in Colorado who have died after a COVID-19 diagnosis, since the first death happened on March 13.

The median number of new deaths per day is 16 for the first 11 days of May. For the same time period in April, a median of 15 more people died each day.

This graph shows the number of people who died on a specific day.

Date of death may not be available for all deaths. As of Tuesday, CDPHE knew the date of death for 92% of COVID-19-related deaths. 

The numbers for each date may change. The totals will rise as we learn of new deaths. 

Hospitalizations

Of those who tested positive for the disease, 3,842 hospitalizations have been reported, up from 3,789 the day prior.

As of 2:45 p.m. on May 14, 514 patients are currently hospitalized with the disease, according to the most recent data from the Colorado Hospital Association. Within the last 24 hours, 46 patients have been transferred or discharged.

This graph below shows the number of people currently hospitalized with a COVID-19 diagnosis and the number of people who have been discharged within 24 hours. This is a key metric because it can be an indicator of whether or not Colorado’s hospital system is being overwhelmed by the virus. 

Those currently hospitalized dropped 19% from last Monday.

Testing

According to CDPHE, 119,759 people have been tested, up from 115,996 the day prior, and 60 counties are reporting cases, the same number as the day before. 

This graph below shows the number of tests the state processed in a day. This is another key metric because the state’s ability to reopen will depend on the number of tests Colorado can run each day. As testing improves, the number of cases will rise because the more tests that are conducted, the more cases will be found.

Colorado processed a median of 1,851.5 tests a day for the first 10 days of April. Now the median is 3,385 for the first 10 days of May.

Credit: CDPHE

Please note that there may be a lull or spike in reported case data due to how it's reported. CDPHE data changes as labs, hospitals, facilities and local agencies report their own data. For example, a spike in the number of deaths does not necessarily mean that many more people died within 24 hours, but rather is indicative of when the data is entered into the system. New data is released daily at 4 p.m.

> See the latest numbers from the state health department.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus that first appeared in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most patients develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

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