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Colorado coronavirus latest May 20: 217% jump in cases at Denver city jail

The CDPHE has released a weekly update on COVID-19 outbreaks in the state.

COLORADO, USA — Denver's city jail now has one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the state, with 581 total inmate cases and three staff cases. That's a 217% growth since last week. 

Aurora is waiving fees on temporary permits for restaurants to create outdoor seating spaces.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Gov. Jared Polis are set to announce details Thursday on a new, drive-up COVID-19 testing site that's opening in Denver. The city said testing will be done on a large scale level and will be free of charge. 

The Colorado State Unified Command Group has received a second shipment of the experimental drug remdesivir, which has gotten emergency approval to be used in some circumstances to fight COVID-19.

> VIDEO: Some dental offices are charging for personal protective equipment (PPE).

The state has received 1,720 doses of the drug, according to the release, and it has been distributed to five hospital systems and three independent hospitals in Colorado.

Colorado has also seen three possible cases of a rare inflammatory syndrome that affects children weeks after they've contracted COVID-19. Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) issued a warning to parents during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. 

The City and County of Denver on Wednesday announced that it will use an initial allotment of $20 million in federal funds to support residents and businesses struggling with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The state of Colorado has released its proposed guidelines to allow restaurants to restart dine-in service, as part of an effort to solicit feedback from the businesses and customers involved.

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

WHAT TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Click/tap here to read updates from May 19.

Tuesday, May 19

2020 Arapahoe County Fair canceled

County officials, after weighing all economic and public health and safety considerations, decided to cancel the 2020 Arapahoe County Fair that had been scheduled for July 23-26. The county is finalizing details of hosting a limited 4-H competition and a virtual junior livestock auction.

Last year’s fair had a record number of visitors, more than 27,000 attendees across the four-day event, the county said.

More info: https://www.arapahoegov.com/civicalerts.aspx?AID=1670

Aurora issues guidelines for restaurants

Aurora released guidelines Wednesday to help restaurants operate in temporary spaces outdoors as soon as state and county public health officials allow the partial reopening of in-person dining services.

The city said it is waiving fees on expedited Temporary Use Permits, which would allow restaurants to use outdoor spaces adjacent to their buildings, such as parking lots and sidewalks, in order to keep patrons socially distanced. The permits would also loosen regulations on parking requirements and outdoor alcohol service (a separate state permit will be required for alcohol and is available at half its typical fee), the city said.

Restaurants can apply for a Temporary Use Permit as of today.

More info and links for permit applications: AuroraGov.org/AuroraRampsUp.

Citing shared street spaces, Boulder lowers speed limits

Following a vote by Boulder City Council on May 19, the default speed limit in the city – or the legal speed where no signs are posted – will be lowered to 20 mph, the city said. This change goes into effect on June 18.

The city said it will be lowering the posted speed limit on appropriate local, residential streets and currently plans to change the speed limit at 465 locations this summer.

Social distancing due to COVID-19 has underlined the importance of shared street spaces that are safer and more comfortable for walking and bicycling, the city said. The lower speed limits are a part of the city’s Vision Zero program which has a travel safety goal to eliminate all fatalities and serious injuries caused by traffic collisions.

Residential streets make up 70% of all streets in Boulder.

A map of street classifications in the city is available here.

Latest outbreak data released by CDPHE

There are now 90 confirmed COVID-19 cases among workers at grocery stores across Colorado, in ten stores. This is an increase of 27 confirmed cases from last week’s numbers.

Additional data released Wednesday shows that the Denver City Jail now has the second largest outbreak in the state, behind Sterling Correctional Center. 

The Denver jail has 208 positive cases of COVID-19 and 373 possible positive cases. 

The Sterling Correctional Facility has 440 confirmed cases and two deaths. 

Another outbreak includes Stephen Roberts Original Desserts in Aurora, where 104 employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

During a news conference on Wednesday, CDPHE leaders said efforts are underway to track and minimize outbreaks.

See the latest outbreak data from CDPHE here. 

Denver to announce free, large-scale testing site for COVID-19

Mayor Michael Hancock and Governor Jared Polis, city leaders and regional partners will provide an update Thursday on a new drive-up COVID-19 testing site set to open in Denver. 

Hancock and Polis are expected to provide more details on the free testing site during a 2 p.m. news conference Thursday at Pepsi Center. 

9NEWS will stream the update online and on our YouTube page. 

Health officials report 3 possible cases of inflammatory disease in children possibly tied to COVID-19 

The state of Colorado has seen three possible cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) announced during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

These cases are possibly tied to COVID-19, and are awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

“Young people who develop this symptom are sick enough to require hospitalization, but most recover well,” Colorado State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said during the news conference.

Herlihy said she could not release details about the patients with the disease, citing privacy concerns.

The syndrome affects blood vessels and organs, and symptoms include prolonged fever, abdominal pain and vomiting. Medical professionals say the syndrome appears to be an atypical Kawasaki-like disease, an illness that causes inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body. 

FULL STORY: Colorado sees 3 possible cases of inflammatory syndrome in children related to COVID-19

Colorado hospitals receive 2nd allocation of experimental COVID-19 drug

The Colorado State Unified Command Group has received a second shipment of the experimental drug remdesivir, which has gotten emergency approval to be used in some circumstances to fight COVID-19.

The state has received 1,720 doses of the drug, according to the release, and it has been distributed to five hospital systems and three independent hospitals in Colorado.

The recipients are:

  • Banner Health
  • Centura Health
  • HealthONE
  • Boulder Community Hospital
  • Children’s Hospital of Colorado
  • Denver Health
  • SCL
  • UCHealth

Decisions about who receives a dose of remdisivir will be made by physicians with recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

CDPHE provides update on COVID-19 response, testing 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) held a news conference Wednesday where officials discussed the state's efforts to allow parts of the economy to reopen while slowing the spread of COVID-19. 

Notably, the CDPHE said efforts are underway to increase testing in Colorado from 4,000 per day to 8,000 per day, as well as set up test sites in every county. 

Models show that around 3% of Colorado's population has contracted COVID-19, and that it would require 70% to achieve a level of herd immunity. 

Denver to inject $20M in emergency funding for COVID-19

Denver is deploying $20 million in CARES Act funds to support local residents and businesses impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City and County of Denver announced Wednesday. 

The funds will go to support residents with housing and food assistance, provide economic relief for local small businesses and non-profits, and to support widespread community testing and other public health programs and needs.  

According to the city, phase one emergency support funds will be provided for:  

  • Housing Relief: $6.5 million to support rent and utility assistance ($4M) and mortgage assistance ($1M) programs and rehousing strategies ($1.5M) for those impacted by COVID-19. 
  •  Food Assistance: $2 million to support food assistance programs, as well as city agencies conducting feeding programs for vulnerable populations, including Denver Public Schools. These funds will also be used for sanitization and retrofitting of food pantries across the city. 
  •  Non-profit and Business Relief: $6.5 million to support grants to non-profits ($2.2M) and small businesses ($4.3M). This is in addition to existing grants and relief funds provided by Denver’s office of Economic Development & Opportunity. 
  • Public Health and Safety Needs: $5 million to support continued public health programs and safety needs, including widespread community testing, sanitizing equipment for businesses, non-profits and nursing homes and personal protective equipment.

“Our residents need more relief, and these are programs we can deploy funding to right now to support people’s and family’s housing, food and job security, as well as our community’s public health, during this pandemic,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. 

 The funds are the city’s first deployment of the approximately $126.8 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) dollars received to address expenses related to COVID-19.

National Jewish employees asked to take off 80 hours

Employees at National Jewish were told Tuesday that many need to take off 80 hours either with vacation time or without pay as the hospital continues to navigate through financial hardships amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  

A letter to the employees says in part:

As we move forward, we now need to take additional steps to address our finances and ensure our long-term ability to provide exceptional care to our patients and stability for our employees. With that in mind, here are decisions we have made as leaders of the organization: 

  • Executive leadership and numerous faculty and managers have had their pay reduced between 10% and 25%. Other managers or faculty members may elect to reduce their pay during this June through August time period as well.
  • Effective June 1, 2020, we will discontinue the “Emergency Subsidy” pay practice.
  • All areas should flex staff work hours to match volume. Employees who do not have enough work hours to cover their FTE assignment must use vacation or Leave Without Pay.
  • Exempt (salaried) and all hourly staff other than those addressed above must take off at least 80 hours of leave (either vacation or Leave Without Pay) between June 1 and August 31. 
  • We will continue to have a freeze on non-essential travel and other non-essential recruitment and spending through September 30 and will reevaluate based on our performance and the state of the country over the coming months.
  • We are continuing the voluntary leave without pay initiative. Essential employees or faculty may take a day without pay as approved by their manager or chief.

The letter also said the emergency fund to assist employees will continue, employees may continue to apply for grants to help pay for essential expenses up to $1,000 per employee and people may donate vacation to fellow employees who are sick.

City of Aurora to distribute free meals beginning Wednesday

The City of Aurora will be distributing 1,000 free boxes of food — enough for about 9,000 meals — every week May 20 through Aug. 26 at various locations throughout the city.

The first event will be Wednesday, May 20, at Aurora Central High School, with the next occurring Wednesday, May 27, at Hinkley High School.

Additional dates for the mobile food pantry will continue through the summer. Location details will be announced soon at AuroraGov.org/MobileFoodPantry.

Photo ID or other proof of Aurora residency is required. All Aurora households are eligible and emergency food kits are also available for those experiencing homelessness.

State releases guidelines for how restaurants can reopen for dine-in service

Colorado has put out a first draft of guidelines for restaurants to reopen.  

Those guidelines include putting eight feet of spacing between tables, limiting party sizes to six people, offering online reservations as much as possible and wearing masks. 

Patrons would not be able to seat themselves, and bar areas will not be able to reopen unless there are eight feet between parties.

The guidelines ask that employees at restaurants attempt to wash their hands every 30 minutes, and stay at home if they are feeling sick.  

Restaurants are also asked to conduct daily temperature checks on their employees and give customers a “sign-in” option so they can learn about potential exposure.

Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) has previously said he expects to decide whether restaurants can reopen for in-person service by May 25 based on data regarding COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in Colorado.

RELATED: Here's a first look at how Colorado could allow restaurants to reopen for dine-in service

RELATED: Denver unveils program to help restaurants, bars navigate COVID-19

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 22,797 people have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, up from 22,482 the day prior.

Fatalities

CDPHE reports:

  • 1,299 deaths among people with COVID-19
  • 1,001 deaths due to COVID-19

The day prior, 1,257 people had died, 968 from COVID-19

The majority of deaths — 55% — 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.

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

Date of death may not be available for all 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, 3,990 hospitalizations have been reported, up from 3,955 the day prior.

As of 3:05 p.m. on May 19, 463 patients were hospitalized with the disease, according to the most recent data from the Colorado Hospital Association. Within the last 24 hours, 43 patients have been transferred or discharged.

Note: 93% of facilities reported data on May 18. 

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.

Testing

According to CDPHE, 135,611 people have been tested, up from 131,837 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.

Positivity is the number of tests that come back with a COVID-19 result. Above 10% could be an indicator that not enough testing is being done and that only people likely to have COVID are getting tested.

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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