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When is it time for Colorado to reopen businesses fully? A Denver7 360 look

Posted: 10:38 PM, Mar 03, 2021
Updated: 2021-03-04 14:00:55-05
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DENVER — More than 8% of Americans and 8.5% of Coloradans are now vaccinated with at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. As more and more become immunized an important question follows: when can Coloradans get back to our normal lives?

In this 360, doctors, politicians, business owners and Coloradans answer when they feel is the best time to reopen.

"As spring comes, we're all excited for what's ahead," said Patrick Crawford, a co-owner of Denver Beer Company. On Wednesday his company unveiled a new beer called 'Love This City' to pay tribute to the good times ahead. But even he is reluctant to open too soon.

"I don't know when we should reopen, but I definitely think we need to look at the science behind it," Crawford said.

How soon should Colorado reopen? A Denver7 360 in-depth look

At least one of his customers agree.

"I really kind of value the way that Colorado is following what the science and medical doctors are saying and doing things in a safe way," Chris Norman said while in the Denver Beer Company taproom. "It really is gonna depend on the roll out of the vaccine and people continuing to social distance."

In the early days of the pandemic, the metrics for reopening were based on hospital capacity and infection rates. Now, those numbers are looking good. Cases of coronavirus are declining and vaccine supply is increasing.

But medical experts say it's not enough to open completely just yet.

"The vaccine is certainly going to help. But as you know that the vaccine is not in most people yet," said Dr. Eric Lung, the chief medical officer at Sky Ridge Medical Center. "The reason the numbers are where they are is because of what we have been doing for months."

Especially with new variants, Lung said Coloradans need to wait a little longer until more people are vaccinated before opening up fully.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the move to relax restrictions in states like Florida and Texas "risky" as new variants spread. National experts agree herd immunity will not be reached until at least 80% of the population is vaccinated or immune from the disease.

But many Republican politicians say any day waiting to reopen is too long.

"I think the time to reopen is now," Republican state Rep. Patrick Neville. "I think we're at a point now where we should actually start trusting our citizens and moving the goalposts on them."

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Coronavirus

Coronavirus in Colorado: COVID-19 updates for March 1-March 7, 2021

The Denver7 Team
6:45 AM, Mar 01, 2021

The philosophical difference in how to govern in a pandemic has played out for the past year. It has split along the lines of public safety versus individual freedom. But Rep. Neville, who sued Gov. Jared Polis over the statewide mask mandate, said they are not mutually exclusive.

"In general terms, it seems like there's an authoritarian approach on this," Neville said. "I think a better approach is actually trusting the individuals to make better decisions for themselves."

Polis said in a press conference on Tuesday that 'normal' may come soon enough.

"We are very hopeful that people who want the vaccine will be able to access that in April and May — in time to have a summer that allows them to enjoy everything that Colorado has to offer," he said, highlighting the importance of continued vaccinations. "The things that have saved lives and prevented disease transmission these last 12 months are even more important now than ever before."

Editor's Note: Denver7 360 stories explore multiple sides of the topics that matter most to Coloradans, bringing in different perspectives so you can make up your own mind about the issues. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at 360@TheDenverChannel.com. See more 360 stories here.

More than 428,000 people in Colorado have tested positive for COVID-19 and 23,476 have been hospitalized as of Sunday afternoon, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

READ MORE: List of Colorado businesses that are open

Click here for the latest update on the number of cases, the age, gender and location of presumptive positive, indeterminate and confirmed cases from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Below, we're updating this blog with the latest information regarding COVID-19 in Colorado.


In-Depth: Coronavirus in Colorado: Factors to weigh this week

Thursday, March 4

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported that an estimated 13,034 regular initial unemployment claims were filed during the week ending on Feb. 27.
Since mid-March 2020, an estimated total of 846,016 regular initial unemployment claims have been filed. There were also 9,916 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims filed for the week ending Feb. 27. PUA initial claim figures for last week include new and reopened claims tied to the Phase 2 rollout.
For the week ending on Feb. 20, a combined total of 282,986 continued claims were filed from the regular UI (75,165), PUA (92,835), and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) (114,986) programs.
The spike in PUA and PEUC continued claims compared to the week prior coincides with the Feb. 20 Phase 2 rollout and the potential of those claimants requesting weekly payments as far back as the week beginning Dec. 27, the CDLE said. CDLE estimates those continued claims were filed by approximately 190,921 individuals (68,239 for regular UI; 47,789 for PUA, and 74,893 for PEUC).

Wednesday, March 3

6:24 p.m. | Denver receives first doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine
The City of Denver announced on Twitter Wednesday that it has just received its first doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and are preparing to administer them. They have not said how much of the vaccine they received. However, the state is expected to receive over 100,000 doses of the recently-approved vaccine by April 11.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Feb. 27. The one-shot vaccine is 86% percent effective against the most severe form of COVID-19.
4:29 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data
Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for Colorado, as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, with the change from Tuesday in parentheses:
431,670 cases (+1,055)
23,735 hospitalize (+142)
64 counties (+0)
2,590,863 people tested (+5,473)
6,273,669 test encounters (+29,808)
5,970 deaths among cases (+11)
5,954 deaths due to COVID-19 (+27)
3,949 outbreaks (+30)
The latest hospital data showed 389 beds in use by confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients – 6 fewer than Tuesday. Colorado’s seven-day average positivity rate was 3.37% on Tuesday. The state’s goal is to remain below 5%.
As of Tuesday, 947,185 Coloradans had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 509,021 had received both doses of either Pfizer or Moderna.

Tuesday, March 2

4:23 p.m. | Another Colorado vaccine finder tool
Another tool has been developed to try to help people find open vaccine appointments in Colorado. While several other similar websites and social media accounts have been created, this is yet another tool for people hoping to find vaccine appointments near them.
Go to VaccineSpotter.org for more information on how to use the tool.

4:19 p.m. | Latest Colorado COVID-19 data
Here are the latest COVID-19 data for Colorado as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, with the change from Monday in parenthesis:
430,615 cases (+776)
23,593 hospitalized (+43)
64 counties (+0)
2,585,390 people tested (+3,669)
6,243,861 test encounters (+14,006)
5,959 deaths among cases (+7)
5,927 deaths due to COVID-19 (+24)
3,919 outbreaks (+26)
The latest hospital data showed 395 beds in use by confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients – 32 fewer than Monday. Colorado’s seven-day average positivity rate was 3.36% on Monday. The state’s goal is to remain below 5%.
As of Monday, 930,911 Coloradans had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 495,961 had received both doses of either Pfizer or Moderna.

10:10 a.m. | CDLE hosting two unemployment town halls on Wednesday
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced it is holding two unemployment town halls Wednesday to provide updates and information on the state’s insurance program. The town halls will cover upgrades to the unemployment system MyUI+, frequently asked questions and more.
An English version is set for 1 p.m. A Spanish version is set for 3 p.m.
You can register at ColoradoUI.gov to receive instructions today on how to log in tomorrow. You can also visit the website Wednesday to join via phone or computer. Registration is not required.

Monday, March 1

11:35 p.m. | Colorado expecting Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses by Friday
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) said the state is expecting the first allotment of Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine by Friday, March 5.
The FDA just granted Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, over the weekend.
CDPHE said they’re expecting 45,500 doses of Janssen vaccines by Friday, but they treat all orders as estimates until they arrive. The vaccine will be eligible to Coloradans as soon as Friday at a number of community vaccination sites across the state.
The Janssen vaccine requires only one dose, unlike the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
It uses a delivery system different from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to train the immune system to fight COVID-19, according to CDPHE.
Dr. Ross Kedl, a professor of immunology and microbiology at the University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine, said the Janssen vaccine uses viral vector technology, meaning the vaccine is made from an inactivated adenovirus that will be able "infect" the cells but not replicate itself.
Read the full story here.

11:30 p.m. | Eagle County offering vaccine pre-registration for additional groups
Eagle County Public Health and Environment (ECPHE) is offering pre-registration for phase 1B.3, which will be eligible to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine March 5.
Phase 1B.3 will include people 60 and up, people with two or more high risk conditions, grocery workers and agricultural workers. You can verify your eligibility here and sign up here.
Vaccine supply is limited, so if the number of sign-ups exceeds the amount of doses, appointments will be issued on a random drawing for those who are eligible.
No further action is required once registered. Those selected to receive a vaccination appointment will be contacted by text message or email to schedule.
6:03 p.m. | Colorado reporting second infection data
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment began reporting data related to those who get a second infection of the COVID-19 virus. CDPHE reported 822 cases on Monday, which have report dates of Aug. 20, 2020, through Feb. 28, 2021, and represent 0.19% of Colorado’s total case count.
While reinfection is rare, it’s not unexpected based on what we know from similar viruses, CDPHE said in a release. The agency said it's important to note that the criteria used to define a new case or reinfection may change as we learn more about how long immunity lasts.
4:17 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for Colorado, as of 4 p.m. Monday, with the change from Sunday in parentheses:
429,839 cases (+1,536)
23,550 hospitalized (+74)
64 counties (+0)
2,581,721 people tested (+4,366)
6,229,855 test encounters (+13,654)
5,952 deaths among cases (+1)
5,903 deaths due to COVID-19 (+29)
3,893 outbreaks (+6)
The latest hospital data showed 427 beds in use by confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients, 23 more than Sunday. Colorado's seven-day positivity rate was 3.40% on Sunday. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.
As of Sunday, 913,102 Coloradans had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 482,442 people had received two doses.

3:50 p.m. | CDPHE gives update on long-term care facility vaccinations
State officials on Monday reported a "dramatic decrease" in COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities, where 88% of residents have been vaccinated and 66% of staffers have been vaccinated. All long-term care facilities in the state have received the vaccine, according to state officials.
“An absolutely dramatic decrease in cases at long term care facilities” has been occurring since vaccinations began," CDPHE incident commander Scott Bookman said at a news conference Monday.

1:45 p.m. | Polis calls for Congressional delegation to extend critical benefits
Gov. Jared Polis on Monday called on Colorado's U.S. congressional delegation to work to make sure federal benefit programs are extended before they expire this month.
Assistance programs that help more than 100,000 Coloradans are set to expire March 14.
“While Colorado is appreciative for the immediate aid provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December, the continued uncertainty regarding the extension and funding of federal unemployment programs for Coloradans makes it difficult to plan for basic needs and unexpected costs,” Polis wrote in a letter. "As you know, more than 18 million Americans are now collecting unemployment benefits, including $300 weekly supplemental payments that began in January. In just a few weeks, these crucial supplemental federal benefits will expire. Among one of the provisions in the American Rescue Plan is an increase in the supplemental weekly jobless benefits until August 29th, 2021. It is imperative that we avoid an interruption in these benefits and pass an extension that lines up with the programs from the Consolidated Appropriations Act to ensure programming can continue as seamlessly as possible."

Click here for the COVID-19 live blog for Feb. 22-Feb. 28, 2021.