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Colorado coronavirus latest, April 6: King Soopers limiting number of shoppers

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

Monday, April 6

Denver’s Pop Culture Convention delayed

Denver’s Pop Culture Convention, which was scheduled for July 3 - 5, has been postponed to Nov. 27 - 29.

The news came after Mayor Hancock announced that the Colorado Convention Center will be converted to a 2,000-bed field hospital to help relieve pressure on the medical system in addressing COVID-19. The event was scheduled to take place in the convention center.

The Denver Pop Culture Con promised to continually provide updates as they become available.

Gov. Polis extends statewide stay-at-home order to April 26

Gov. Polis in a statewide address Monday night announced the extension of the statewide stay-at-home order from April 11 to April 26.

“We all want this to end as soon as possible,” he said.

Polis encouraged Coloradans to continue to do their part, stay home, wear a mask when going out for critical items and practice social distancing. 

"The federal government is literally paying us to stay home," Polis added.

RELATED: What you can and can't do under Colorado's stay-at-home order

Two Denver hotels deny Mayor Hancock’s request to house the homeless

The City of Denver announced that both Denver’s downtown Hyatt and the Westin at the Denver International Airport, both on land owned by the city, have declined Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s request to provide shelter to the homeless.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock wrote an open letter to Denver’s hotel and motel owners Monday, asking that they “consider, or reconsider [their] involvement in this humanitarian mission” by housing homeless during the pandemic.

He added that Denver’s hotels “sit under-utilized at best or entirely empty at worst.”

According to Hancock, an additional hotel 3,300 rooms are needed to meet the anticipated needs of people experiencing homelessness and local hospitals.

King Soopers implements limitations regarding the number of customers allowed in stores

King Soopers will limit the number of customers allowed in its stores starting Tuesday to ensure that social distancing guidelines are being upheld in response to COVID-19.

The stores will allow only 50% of its calculated building capacity at a time. The new capacity limitations will reduce the number of customers from one for every 60 square feet to one for every 120 square feet.

The number of individuals will be monitored by technology that tracks customers entering and exiting the stores.

The safety measure comes as an addition to the grocery store’s other COVID-19-related precautions, which include the introduction of plexiglass partitions, educational floor decals and in-store radio messages reminding customers how to stay safe and healthy while shopping.

Additional safety measures taken by King Soopers now include:

  • Encouraging associates to wear protective masks and gloves, which have been ordered nationwide
  • Asking that associates actively monitor their health by taking their temperature before coming into work
  • Testing one-way aisles in select stores across the country
  • Waiving delivery fees for prescriptions
  • Reducing Easter hours to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CDPHE responds to questions about sharing recovery rates

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Colorado’s Epidemiologist, said typically the state will only collect data at the beginning of someone’s COVID-19 illness and not through their outcome. 

“So there’s some challenges in trying to get recovery data,” Herlihy said. 

Herlihy indicated the state is working on getting discharge data from hospitals so it can give an idea of the percentage of people who’ve been able to go home after an infection.

Colorado Convention Center to become field hospital

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in a letter to hotel operators and owners said the Colorado Convention Center will be converted into a 2,000-bed field hospital this month to relieve pressure on the medical system responding to the COVID-19 outbreak 

He said, however, hotel rooms are needed now while the facility is prepared for patients. He added that an additional 3,300 rooms are needed to meet the anticipated needs of people experiencing homelessness and local hospitals. 

"I implore you to consider or reconsider your involvement in this humanitarian mission while your properties sit underutilized at best or entirely empty at worst," he said. 

CDPHE gives update on Colorado cases

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) held a virtual news conference Monday to give an update on the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, Colorado had 5,172 cases of COVID-19, with 976 hospitalizations and 148 deaths, according to CDPHE. Cases have been reported in 54 counties, and 26,875 tests have been conducted.

Jill Ryan, CDPHE executive director, said those numbers don't reflect the reality of infections in the state. She estimated that 17,000 to 18,000 Coloradans have had COVID-19, which is 0.02% to 0.03% of the state's population.

She said the numbers indicate widespread community spread of the virus and that there are signs of stress on hospitals. Dr. Eric France, CDPHE's chief medical officer, said they expect 30% to 40% of Coloradans eventually will be infected with COVID-19.

Social distancing seems to be making a difference, though. State epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said the time in which the number of cases doubles has dropped from every two days in early March to every four-to-five days this past week. The impact of the statewide stay-at-home order should come in the next few days.

It's too soon to know when cases will peak in Colorado, though it will happen between May and summer, Herlihy said. The models used by CDPHE, which are done by the Colorado Public School of Health, show that the timing of the peak will depend on social distancing efforts. Ideally, CDPHE wants the curve to flatten and the peak to come later because that would put less stress on the state's health-care system.

Denver stay-at-home order extended

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock extended the city's and county's stay-at-home order to April 30. It had previously been enacted until April 11.

With the extension of the order, the city will conduct additional outreach and enforcement as the mayor urges all residents to stay home except for essential business or essential activities, and stay safe by observing the public health order guidelines amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. 

As of today, Denver has had:  

  • 6,090 contacts with businesses and residents about compliance with the stay-at-home order.
  • 1,796 warnings issued.
  • 14 citations issued. 

The city is also extending its ban on mass gatherings through April 30 and will begin posting its daily Emergency Operations Situational Report to denvergov.org.  

RELATED: What you can and can't do under Colorado's stay-at-home order

RELATED: FAQs: Your questions about Colorado's stay-at-home order — answered

RELATED: How to report businesses that aren't complying with the stay-at-home order

State health officials provide update on COVID-19

Representatives from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will provide a brief update and answer questions about COVID-19 during a media briefing Monday afternoon. 

You can listen live in the video player above starting at 2 p.m. 

Elected officials call on state to assist with people experiencing homelessness

At-Large Denver Councilmember Robin Kniech joined other elected officials Monday to ask that the state provide more resources to assist in keeping people experiencing homelessness safe. 

The officials called on the state to implement four things:

  • Establish a housing site and deploy national guard.
  • Make hotels and motels available to house those who have no where else to go.
  • Include homeless service providers in those getting PPE.
  • Provide expended testing among people experiencing homelessness.

Kniech said shelters are crowded and providing adequate housing that implements social distancing is not an issue the city can handle on its own. 

Brad Meuli, president and CEO at the Denver Rescue Mission, said the organization had to close the Holly Center at 5725 E. 39th Ave. in Denver due to decreasing staff. 

"It is not lost on me that every day, I send our staff into the fire of no social distancing, with no PPE, to try to take care of the most vulnerable population," Meuli said.

WATCH: Advocates want Polis to ask National Guard for help housing homeless

AAA Colorado offers free roadside assistance to healthcare workers, first responders

AAA Colorado announced Monday that the auto club will provide free emergency roadside assistance to all first responders and health workers traveling to and from their work duties.  

The offer will apply to eligible workers anywhere across Colorado throughout the duration of Gov. Jared Polis' stay-at-home order, according to AAA Colorado. Workers do not need to be a AAA Colorado member to get the free service.

To receive help, motorists should call 1-800-AAA-HELP and tell the local rescue center that they are a healthcare worker or first responder who broke down as they were headed to or from work. A technician will then be dispatched to either repair the vehicle at the site of the breakdown or transport it to a destination of the motorist's choice within 100 miles. 

State health department updates crisis standards of care

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updated the state's crisis standards of care guidelines, which are meant to tell hospitals which patients they should treat in which order if the COVID-19 pandemic causes patient needs to exceed available resources, such as ventilators and intensive care unit beds.

It recommends a tiered approach. Tier one is a scoring system based on the severity of the illness and likelihood of survival. Tier two is pediatric patients, health care workers, and first responders. Tier three is for special considerations like if a person is pregnant or a sole caregiver. Tier four is random allocation.

Coronavirus cases in Colorado

In Colorado, 5,172 people have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and 150 people have died. Of those who tested positive for the disease, 994 have been hospitalized.

According to CDPHE, 26,875 people have been tested and 54 counties are reporting cases. There have been 41 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities.

See the latest numbers from the state health department.

  • Denver: 847
  • Arapahoe: 652
  • Jefferson: 540
  • Weld: 504
  • El Paso: 441
  • Adams: 367
  • Eagle: 355
  • Douglas: 227
  • Boulder: 189
  • Larimer: 158
  • Gunnison: 95
  • Broomfield: 50
  • Garfield: 47
  • Summit: 47
  • Pueblo: 42
  • Pitkin: 39
  • Montrose: 34
  • La Plata: 32
  • Routt: 29
  • Mesa: 25
  • Chaffee: 22
  • Morgan: 19
  • Teller: 11
  • Logan: 11
  • San Miguel: 10
  • Baca: 9
  • Elbert: 9
  • Montezuma: 8
  • Clear Creek: 6
  • Archuleta: 6
  • Delta: 5
  • Rio Grande: 5
  • Park: 5
  • Kit Carson: 5
  • Grand: 4
  • Alamosa: 4
  • Otero: 4
  • Moffat: 3
  • Saguache: 3
  • Costilla: 3
  • Lake: 3
  • Phillips: 3
  • Fremont: 3
  • Yuma: 2
  • Mineral: 2
  • Custer: 2
  • Ouray: 2
  • Rio Blanco: 1
  • Las Animas: 1
  • Hinsdale: 1
  • Huerfano: 1
  • Crowley: 1
  • Washington: 1
  • Lincoln: 1
  • Out of state: 26
  • Unknown or pending: 276

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.

RELATED: What you can and can't do under Colorado's stay-at-home order

RELATED: FAQ: Dr. Kohli answers your questions about the coronavirus

To help prevent the spread, people should:

  • Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when they are sick.
  • Cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

If you are feeling ill with symptoms similar to those associated with COVID-19 the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) recommends the following:

  • Manage your symptoms at home the same way you manage other cold symptoms. To the extent possible, people with flu-like symptoms should remain at home.
  • If you need medical care, contact your primary care provider and schedule a visit. Let them know that you are concerned you might have COVID-19.
  • Only contact 911 for emergencies requiring immediate life-saving care and let them know if you are concerned you might have COVID-19.
  • Restrict visits to the hospital emergency room or urgent care — only individuals needing immediate care should visit these facilities. If you must visit an ER or urgent care facility, call ahead and let them know that you are concerned you might have COVID-19.

RELATED: Data show which communities COVID-19 is impacting most in Colorado

CDC's testing guidance includes three types of people:

  1. Those who have symptoms such as fever OR lower respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) and have had "close contact" with a confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of their first symptoms.
  2. Those who have fever AND/OR lower respiratory symptoms, require hospitalization and have traveled to areas impacted by the epidemic in the last 14 days.
  3. Patients with fever and severe, acute lower respiratory symptoms who require hospitalization, and for whom no other diagnosis has been found — such as the flu. No travel or contact exposure is needed.

DDPHE said it's working with city leadership to ensure that public health and safety measures are ready to be implemented in the event of a local outbreak with community transmission.

Those measures could include limiting large gatherings and encouraging employers to allow employees to work from home whenever possible.  

Members of the public with general questions can call CO HELP at 1-877-462-2911 to be connected with a local public health representative. They can also visit denvergov.org/dphe.

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