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Colorado coronavirus latest, April 24: RTD asks all riders to wear face coverings

COVID-19 is in Colorado — we'll continue to post updates and headlines on how Colorado is being affected by the coronavirus.

COLORADO, USA — Cases of COVID-19, a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus, began popping up in the United States in January. On March 5, the first case was announced in Colorado.

Each day, we will post a new blog that will track the daily changes in Denver and throughout Colorado as we get them.

RELATED: FAQs: Answering your questions on the coronavirus in Colorado

WHAT TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

> Click/tap here to read updates from April 23.

Friday, April 24

RTD asks all riders to wear face coverings

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is requiring everyone who rides its buses and trains to wear face masks. 

That includes both passengers and operators, according to a news release sent out by the agency on Friday. 

Other changes RTD has made amid the COVID-19 pandemic include: 

- Implementing rear-door boarding and exiting, and suspending fare collection, to create another layer of social distance between operators and riders and eliminate the need for contact with the farebox.

- Roping off the area behind the operators and wheelchair securement area, to ensure social distancing and protect our operators and customers from crowding.

- Limiting vehicle capacity to approximately 15 passengers per bus, 20 on larger buses and 30 on train cars. Bus operators seeing larger crowds forming along their route have been asked to call bus dispatch, to deploy additional buses as they are available.

Ride the Rockies cycling event postponed

The 34th annual Ride the Rockies cycling event has been postponed to June 2021, the event organizers announced Friday.

The event draws about 2,000 riders from around the world to cycle the Rocky Mountains each June.

“To ensure the health and well-being of everyone involved we feel strongly the postponement is the best course of action to take at this time," said Tour Director Deirdre Moynihan. "Ride The Rockies is a large, multi-day event, and it was important to work through our next steps with the many organizations, companies and communities involved."

The 2021 route will be the same as what was planned for 2020.

The 2021 dates are:

  • Prologue: June 11 - 12, 2021
  • Registration Day - Saturday, June 12, 2021
  • Day 1 - Durango Loop - Sunday, June 13, 2021
  • Day 2 - Durango to Cortez - Monday, June 14, 2021
  • Day 3 - Cortez to Norwood - Tuesday, June 15, 2021
  • Day 4 - Norwood to Ridgway - Wednesday, June 16, 2021
  • Day 5 - Ridgway Loop - Thursday, June 17, 2021
  • Day 6 - Ridgway to Durango - Friday, June 18, 2021

As a replacement for this year’s actual ride, Ride the Rockies has created several online events for the riding community to stay connected. Details about two online events on June 14th and June 19th will be announced on the website in the coming days.

For detailed information on this year’s tour, visit RideTheRockies.com.

Polis says Weld County 'cannot' reopen restaurants and supersede the statewide 'safer-at-home' order. 

During a brief remote question-and-answer session with reporters Friday, Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) said Colorado will use “absolutely every mechanism we have" to prevent Weld County from ignoring statewide public health orders – and that it “cannot” continue with its plan to reopen restaurants.

“They do not have any kind of unilateral ability to jeopardize the health of residents,” Polis said.

The city of Greeley, which is in Weld County and home to the JBS meatpacking plant, said it will follow the state's stay-at-home order. 

FULL STORY: Polis: Weld County 'cannot' proceed with plans to reopen restaurants

JBS plant reopens in Greeley

The JBS beef processing plant reopened Friday.

The plant had been closed for more than a week after a COVID-19 outbreak swept through a number of its employees, causing at least three deaths.

JBS said they will be temperature checking employees as they enter the facility. They said symptomatic workers will be tested on-site by the Weld County Public Health Department, too. Employees with a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms will be sent home immediately, according to the company.

JBS said it performed a deep-cleaning of the facility while work was stopped, along with installing a new ventilation system in its fabrication area.

Sterling Correctional testing

The Department of Corrections (DOC) said more than 135 inmates at Sterling Correctional have tested positive for COVID-19.

The DOC, with help from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), have tested 473 symptomatic and asymptomatic inmates at the facility. As of 12 p.m. Friday, 255 test results have come back. Those results are: 138 positive, 104 negative, 12 inconclusive and one unsatisfactory.

Sterling Correctional had previously had eight inmates test positive.

The facility has been on Phase III modified operations since April 14. That means inmates stay in their cells unless going to the bathroom or showering, and meals and medications are delivered to offenders in their cells.

Bike-To-Work Day rescheduled

The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) announced Bike-To-Work Day has been rescheduled. 

Bike-To-Work Day typically takes place on the third Wednesday of June, which would have been June 17 this year. It is now rescheduled for Sept. 22.

The event attracts more than 30,000 participants in the Denver region, making it the second largest Bike-To-Work event in the U.S, according to DRCOG .

Registration for Bike-To-Work Day will open in August. You can register here.

Counties extend stay-at-home orders; others considering it

Counties like Denver, Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson have already extended their stay-at-home orders even as the state transitions to safer-at-home. 

Others are still considering it.

FULL LIST OF COUNTIES: Counties extend stay-at-home orders as state transitions to safer-at-home

Denver extending stay-at-home order

The city of Denver is extending its stay-at-home order to May 8 and is attempting to expand its testing capacity for COVID-19 to 1,000 per day, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced Friday.

“I’ve said this before: I’m going to err on the side of saving lives,” Hancock said.

Bob McDonald, the executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, said the city will work in partnership with Denver Health to expand testing to 1,000 a day.

“We have built out and identified a workforce of over 100 people that we hope to train and will train in the next couple weeks in preparation for that,” McDonald said.

FULL STORY: Denver extends stay-at-home order to May 8

Aurora Walmart ordered to close after three COVID-19 deaths

The Tri-County Health Department ordered the Walmart Supercenter at 14000 E. Exposition Ave. in Aurora to close after a 72-year-old employee, her 63-year-old husband and a 69-year-old contracted security guard died of COVID-19, according to a release from the health department.

There are an additional six confirmed cases of COVID-19 among employees and three suspected cases, the release said.

“We are extremely saddened by this news and offer our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the three people we lost,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “These deaths underscore the severity of the highly-contagious coronavirus, and the need for diligent safety precautions to prevent any further spread, including the wearing of masks." 

The release said the health department issued an "Order to Close" this afternoon following a series of complaints from employees and shoppers regarding a lack of social distancing, too many people in the store at once, and employees not wearing masks.

Coronavirus cases in Colorado

In Colorado, 12,256 people have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and 674 people have died. Of those who tested positive for the disease, 2,366 have been hospitalized. 

Currently, 866 patients are hospitalized with the disease, according to data from the Colorado Hospital Association. Within the last 24 hours, 72 patients have been transferred or discharged.

According to CDPHE, 56,789 people have been tested and 56 counties are reporting cases. There have been 134 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities.

See the latest numbers from the state health department.

  • Denver: 2,385
  • Arapahoe: 2,030
  • Weld: 1,353
  • Adams: 1,252
  • Jefferson: 1,157
  • El Paso: 853
  • Eagle: 506
  • Boulder : 470
  • Douglas: 414
  • Larimer: 291
  • Morgan: 232
  • Gunnison: 123
  • Broomfield: 126
  • Pueblo: 116
  • Summit: 97
  • Montrose: 83
  • Garfield: 81
  • Pitkin: 59
  • La Plata: 56
  • Chaffee: 66
  • Routt: 52
  • Mesa: 37
  • Elbert: 27
  • Delta: 26
  • Teller: 26
  • Logan: 31
  • Fremont: 19
  • Kit Carson: 19
  • San Miguel: 17
  • Montezuma: 15
  • Clear Creek: 13
  • Baca: 10
  • Lake: 12
  • Alamosa: 10
  • Archuleta: 8
  • Rio Grande: 7
  • Otero: 8
  • Park: 7
  • Moffat: 6
  • Washington: 6
  • Ouray: 5
  • Phillips: 5
  • Grand: 5
  • Yuma: 6
  • Saguache: 3
  • Costilla: 3
  • Las Animas: 3
  • Hinsdale: 3
  • Lincoln: 3
  • Mineral: 2
  • Custer: 2
  • Crowley: 2
  • Rio Blanco: 1
  • Huerfano: 1
  • Unknown or pending: 103

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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