More than 592,000 people in Colorado have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 33,700 have been hospitalized as of Monday, 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.
Friday, August 20
11:15 p.m. | Chipotle gift cards, CPW voucher offered as incentives for COVID-19 vaccination
Beginning Monday, state vaccine sites are offering new incentives, like Chipotle gift cards or a Colorado Parks and Wildlife voucher, for anyone receiving their first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while supplies last.
Vaccine sites may offer two $20 Chipotle gift cards per person, a $50 Colorado Parks and Wildlife or the $100 Walmart gift card the state has been offering since July. One type of incentive will be available at each vaccine site.
Moderately or severely immunocompromised people who are recommended to receive a booster shot are also eligible for the incentives.
The state is offering the incentives to encourage eligible individuals to get vaccinated by the fall.
4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data
Here's the latest COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for Friday.
598,940 cases (+1,659)
34,953 hospitalized (+23)
64 counties (+0)
3,385,277 people tested (+7,446)
9,882,761 test encounters (+30,369)
7,067 deaths among cases (+11)
7,338 deaths due to COVID-19 (+11)
5,689 outbreaks (+7)
The latest hospital data showed 700 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, nine more than Thursday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.29%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.
As of Friday, 3,591,967 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,266,452 people have been fully vaccinated.
Around 87,000 Coloradans stand to lose all unemployment benefits after Sept. 4 when the federal extended unemployment benefits expire, officials with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Friday.
Those roughly 87,000 people are all receiving unemployment through either the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for gig workers and the self-employed or the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program that extended benefits to people who had exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits.
Additionally, about 116,000 people – including the aforementioned 87,000 – will lose the $300 a week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit after Sept. 4 – a benefit that goes to all people receiving unemployment benefits of any type.
Those figures are according to CDLE Senior Economist Ryan Gedney based on data for who was receiving those various benefits last week. Gedney said there are also about 7,200 people whose regular state benefits will be exhausted in the next five weeks and who will not have a federal program to move over to after then.
In June, 22 U.S. states decided to end the federal unemployment benefit programs early, but Colorado was not one of them and decided to stick with the deadline set by Congress when it passed the American Rescue Plan – which extended the federal unemployment programs created at the beginning of the pandemic into September.
A new study from a team of researchers from Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Toronto released Friday found the states that did end the benefits early saw little job creation as a result and an overall drop in spending compared to states that did not end the benefits early.
The study, which analyzed anonymous real-time banking data, found that for every eight workers who lost their benefits when their states ended them early, one worker found a job. Thirty-five percent of people lost their benefits entirely, and only 4.4% of the study group, who were receiving unemployment benefits in April, found new work, according to the report. It also found that for every dollar benefits were reduced, spending fell by $0.52. Seven cents of new income were created for each dollar of lost benefits.
“These states (that ended benefits early) therefore saw a much larger drop in federal transfers than gains from job creation,” the authors wrote in a summary.
“Through the first week of August, average UI benefits for these workers fell by $278 per week and earnings rose by $14 per week, offsetting only 5% of the loss in income,” the authors wrote in their abstract. “Spending fell by $145 per week, as the loss of benefits led to a large immediate decline in consumption.”
Another study of states that ended federal extended benefits early done by the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Institute released last month found “unemployment supplements have not been the key driver of the job-finding rate through mid-May 2021 and that U.S. policy was therefore successful in insuring income losses from unemployment with minimal impacts on employment.”
It also found the PUA program “is successfully helping marginalized workers who experienced income losses similar to those suffered by traditional UI recipients” and suggested a similar program that works more smoothly in delivering benefits could help stabilize the economy in a future recession.
Those new reports showing the efficacy of the extended federal unemployment programs come as some have continued to clamor for Colorado to end the programs early, though Gov. Jared Polis has said repeatedly he will not.
Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell a tenth of a point to 6.1% in July, the CDLE said Friday. That’s compared to the U.S. rate of 5.4%, which fell half a percentage point in July.
12:47 a.m. | FEMA provides additional $1.4M to City and County of Denver
FEMA has provided $1.4 million in additional Public Assistance funding for the COVID-19 response to the City and County of Denver.
This is part of a major disaster declaration issued March 28, 2020. FEMA has provided a total of $132.8 million for Denver’s COVID-19 response to date, and $952.8 million statewide.
The funding was provided to the City and County of Denver for direct administration costs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to FEMA.
The Douglas County School District will require students in preschool through sixth grade, and staff that work with those students, to wear masks while indoors starting Monday.
The district made the announcement in a letter to families and staff Friday morning – a day after Douglas County commissioners voted to opt out of the Tri-County Health Department’s mask mandate for students ages 2-11 issued earlier this week.
The district had said Tuesday after the TCHD board voted in favor of the mask mandate that it would move forward with the requirement, but it did not respond to requests for comment after Thursday’s decision by the county commissioners.
Douglas County School District Superintendent Corey Wise said in the email to families and staff that as a separate entity from the board of commissioners, it can operate within its own policies.
“We recognize the COVID pandemic has been incredibly challenging for our students, families, and staff,” Wise wrote. “We continue to navigate the complexities of our current circumstances, and we empathize with the varying emotions regarding COVID mitigation in our schools. However, please know that our goal is to keep our students and staff safe and in the classroom for in-person learning.”
Wise added that masks will not be required for students in grades 7-12 for the time being, but it is “strongly recommended” all students and staff wear masks indoors regardless of whether they are vaccinated. Wise said 94% of sixth-grade students were in the age 2-11 age group, which is why they are included in the requirements. Certain exemptions will be allowed, the superintendent wrote.
“We will honor mask-wearing exemptions for students who cannot tolerate a face covering due to medical or mental health reasons as provided by a qualified healthcare provider,” Wise said.
Thousands of people signed up to submit public comment, or wrote in, to both the TCHD and Douglas County board of commissioners both in favor of and in opposition to the requirements earlier this week – with more vocally opposed to them than supportive.
But the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and TCHD have both recommended kids under age 12 – who cannot get vaccinated against COVID-19 for the time being – wear masks indoors in order to brunt the spread of the virus and the more easily transmissible delta variant that now dominates the state.
Thursday, August 19
8:43 p.m. | Larimer Lounge, Lost Lake, Globe Hall to require vaccination or negative COVID-19 test
The Larimer Lounge announced Thursday that it would require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to visit the venue. This also applies to Lost Lake and Globe Hall.
Anyone not vaccinated must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event.
The new policy goes into effect Aug. 20.
The venues said they were joining forces with other venues across the nation to "protect our employees, bands, artists, customers and the live music community as a whole."
Anyone who isn't able to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test should contact the venue at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible to request a refund.
4:30 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data
Here's the latest COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for Thursday.
597,281 cases (+1,696)
34,930 hospitalized (+1,064)
64 counties (+0)
3,377,831 people tested (+7,678)
9,852,392 test encounters (+32,382)
7,056 deaths among cases (+1)
7,327 deaths due to COVID-19 (+29)
5,682 outbreaks (+7)
The latest hospital data showed 691 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, two fewer than Wednesday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.25%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.
As of Thursday, 3,585,670 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,261,424 people have been fully vaccinated.
1:21 p.m. | Hickenlooper, vaccinated against COVID-19, says he has contracted the virus
Sen. John Hickenlooper said Thursday he has tested positive for COVID-19, more than 6 months after after receiving his second dose of the vaccine.
"I've tested positive for a breakthrough case of COVID-19," Hickenlooper wrote in a tweet Thursday afternoon. "I feel good but will isolate per docs instructions. I’m grateful for the vaccine (& the scientists behind it!) for limiting my symptoms."
I've tested positive for a breakthrough case of COVID-19. I feel good but will isolate per docs instructions. I’m grateful for the vaccine (& the scientists behind it!) for limiting my symptoms.— Senator John Hickenlooper (@SenatorHick) August 19, 2021
If you haven’t gotten your shot—get it today! And a booster when it’s available too!
Hickenlooper, who received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 21, encouraged Coloradans to get vaccinated if they still hadn't received one of the three available vaccines in the U.S.
11:10 a.m. | CDPHE: Hospitalizations have increased in Colorado, but state faring well in ICU capacity
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) officials said during a news conference Thursday that hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 across the state have increased in the past several days, but officials say the state is doing well when it comes to ICU capacity.
Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said there’s also been a small increase in pediatric hospitalizations, and Dr. Eric France, the Chief Medical Officer of the CDPHE, added those hospitalizations aren’t necessarily all due to COVID-19.
“I don’t ever remember seeing RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) in August,” France said. “It’s a disease in November and December.”
Due to the increase in such hospitalizations, Scott Bookman, the CDPHE’s COVID-19 Incident Commander, said the state is beginning to work on a “deeper dive” on their pediatric ICU capacity to get a better sense of capacity before the arrival of the fall season.
Dr. France said as we move into the fall, it’s likely we’ll see pediatric hospitalizations go up not just for COVID-19 but for RSV and the flu as well.
“Just the mere fact that we’re all getting together means other respiratory infections will become more common,” France said.
Dr. Herlihy also shared some statistics among hospitalized patients, noting the unvaccinated are seven times more likely to be hospitalized than their vaccine counterparts.
You can view the full news conference below.
7:59 a.m. | COVID-19 update from CDPHE
State authorities with the CDPHE will hold a press conference today at 11:10 a.m.
CDPHE COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman, CDPHE Sr. Solution Architect Casey Carlson, CDPHE Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France, and CDPHE State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy will be present.
Wednesday, August 18
The executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections defended the decision to require his employees to get vaccinated during a press conference on Wednesday with the governor.
Executive Director Dean Williams told reporters the decision was driven by the spread of the delta variant and a responsibility to protect the health of people under the DOC’s supervision.
“Our entire department toiled over this decision over the last few months. We certainly don’t want to lose staff as a result of this mandate,” Williams said.
The department had previously tried to encourage employees to get vaccinated using incentives like bonuses. However, those incentives only encouraged 5-10% of additional employees to seek out the COVID-19 vaccine.
The overall vaccination rate of DOC employees remains relatively low compared to inmate populations or the state as a whole.
While more than 72% of Colorado adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, only 58.7% of DOC staff have been vaccinated. Meanwhile, 64% of inmates are fully vaccinated and another 8% have received their first dose.
Williams wants 90% of his staff fully vaccinated for the sake of health. However, he realizes this will be an unpopular decision for some.
“They may not like it, but my hope and prayer is that they come along with it even if they’re a little unhappy about the decision,” Williams said. “Would it be tough if we had a large exodus of staff? Yeah, of course it would be, there’s no kidding about that, but I am anticipating that more staff will come around.”
4:12 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data
Here's the latest COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for Wednesday.
595,585 cases (+2,023, *Note: CDPHE added 700 cases from previous positive cases from Aug. 14-16 to the data dashboard)
33,866 hospitalized (+31)
64 counties (+0)
3,370,153 people tested (+8,461)
9,820,010 test encounters (+27,677)
7,055 deaths among cases (+8)
7,298 deaths due COVID-19 (+6)
5,675 outbreaks (+16)
The latest hospital data showed 693 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 46 more than Tuesday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.40%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.
As of Wednesday, 3,579,176 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,256,262 people have been fully vaccinated.
1 p.m. | Polis says Colorado is not yet in a good place to stop the delta variant
Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday said the state was doing well when it comes to vaccination rates, but warned "it's not good enough to stop the (delta) variant," as he pushed to require vaccines for health care workers.
The latest data from the state show overall, Colorado is in a good position compared to other states in the country. The data presented Wednesday by state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy showed despite an increase in cases, hospilatizations and mortality rates across the state are near the bottom. When compared to the rest of the country, Colorado's rates for hospitalizations and deaths is lower than the rest of the U.S.
Despite the favorable numbers, Herily said she does not think the state is immune to see a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases again.
"In fact, today we saw our highest increase in cases since May," she said at Wednesday's news conference.
Polis also shared that the state is putting out guidance to providers for third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for people who are immunocompromised, and added they're still awaiting instructions and guidance from the FDA for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The governor said there will be no requirements for people to attest as to their condition and will be able to get a third dose, no questions asked. He also said booster shots for the general public will be available by Sept. 20, though boosters will follow the same timeline as the first vaccines - meaning they'll go to health care workers first, then those 70 and up, educators and lastly, the general pubic.
“Colorado currently has the 7th lowest COVID rate, but that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. We’re still learning about the virus, though we know that the Delta variant has truly changed the trajectory of this pandemic,” Gov. Polis said. “The best thing we can all do is get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors around others for an additional level of protection.”
You can view his full news conference below.
9 a.m. | Gov. Polis to provide update on COVID-19 at 1 p.m.
Gov. Jared Polis will provide an update on the state's response to COVID-19. He will be joined by Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera; Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Colorado’s lead epidemiologist; Michelle Barnes, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Human Services; and Dean Williams, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections.
He is expected to talk more about a vaccine mandate for the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Public Health and Environment, which will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by later this fall.
Tuesday, August 17
5:20 p.m. | Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats will require proof of vaccination at Red Rocks concert
Fans attending the Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats concerts on Aug. 23, 24 and 25 are required to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of each respective event, Red Rocks said in a Facebook post Tuesday.
"This does not apply to all Red Rocks events; health & safety protocols may be implemented on a show-by-show basis at the request of the artist and/or production," Red Rocks officials said. "We encourage all fans get vaccinated to help protect themselves and their fellow concertgoers, artists and live event workers."
4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data
Here's the latest COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for Tuesday.
593,562 cases (+1,190)
33,835 hospitalized (+62)
64 counties (+0)
3,361,692 people tested (+4,106)
9,792,333 test encounters (+13,882)
7,047 deaths among cases (+6)
7,292 deaths due to COVID-19 (+0)
5,659 outbreaks (+8)
The latest hospital data showed 647 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 15 more than Monday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 5.75%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.
As of Tuesday, 3,573,090 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,251,410 people have been fully vaccinated.
A new public health order goes into effect in Denver Wednesday that will require all people to wear masks at all schools and child care facilities if they are age 2 or older.
The order applies whether or not a person is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and at both public and private schools and child care facilities.
There will be exceptions made for people who are deaf or hard of hearing in certain cases, if a person needs to show their face for identification purposes, and for people in public safety, the city said.
The city says the public health order will stay in effect indefinitely and will be updated based on case and vaccine rates.
The city is still sticking with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that people wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status, but is not requiring them for the time being.
The city announced at the beginning of the month it would require all city employees, school staff, staff at child care centers and others in congregate care settings to be fully vaccinated by the end of September.
Denver Public Schools is also requiring masks in schools for all students, staff and visitors, the district announced Aug. 3 after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommended students and staff continue wearing masks this fall in school.
Read the full story here.
State workers who interact with vulnerable or congregate populations at the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Public Health and Environment will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by later this fall.
Additionally, Gov. Jared Polis is pushing the State Board of Health to require vaccines for health care workers working with vulnerable populations, the medically vulnerable and in settings where people receive essential care.
Staffers within the Department of Corrections (CDOC) and Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will have to get their first vaccine dose by Sept. 30 and be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31, the state said. The Department of Human Services (CDHS) will stagger their requirements between Oct. 31 and Nov. 26.
Within DOC facilities, all employees who interact with the public, inmates or parolees, or who enter CDOC facilities, will have to get vaccinated. Additionally, other state employees, contractors, visitors, volunteers and vendors will have to be vaccinated to enter a state prison.
The state said 58.7% of CDOC staff are currently vaccinated. Sixty-four percent of inmates are fully vaccinated and another 8% of inmates have received their first dose. CDOC and CDHS employees have been able to get the vaccine since January.
All CDHS direct care and support staff will also have to get the vaccine, and contractors will have to provide proof of vaccination, the department said. Currently, 77% of CDHS direct care staff is vaccinated, as well as 73% of residents and clients, according to the state.
All CDPHE employees, temporary staff and contractors who work in-person at health facilities, work at vaccine or testing sites, or within the Disease Control and Public Health Response Division will all be required to be fully vaccinated.
12:01 p.m. | Broncos and UC Health hold vaccine clinic at training camp
The Denver Broncos and UCHealth will host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Thursday’s Training Camp practice at the UCHealth Training Center from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
The UCHealth clinic will administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Appointments are not necessary. Individuals who want the vaccine but are not watching the practice are welcome.
“We are pleased to partner with UCHealth in providing a vaccination opportunity to fans at the Broncos’ final practice of training camp,” said Brittany Bowlen, the Broncos’ Senior Vice President of Strategy and COVID-19 Task Force leader. “As we prepare to welcome back fans to Empower Field at Mile High, we encourage the community to get vaccinated and collectively do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Monday, August 16
8:18 p.m. | Tri-County Health won't vote on school mask mandate until Tuesday
Following a meeting with heated public comment in front of the Tri-County Health Department Board of Health, the board has decided not to make a decision on a mask mandate for schools until Tuesday.
The board allowed approximately 90 minutes of public comment to provide insight from the community on reasons for and against a mask mandate. Following the public comment, the board went into a closed executive session to discuss what they heard.
After a little over two hours, the board returned and voted to continue the meeting until Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. They will vote on whether or not to move forward with a mandate then.
6:12 p.m. | Public Health Order requires masks for Jeffco students 2 and up
Jeffco Public Schools announced Monday evening a change to their mask policies for the upcoming school year, which requires all students 2 and up to wear masks while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
This is due to a new Public Health Order issued by Jefferson County Public Health. The Public Health Order requires mask wearing inside schools and child care settings, which includes public, charter and private schools.
Jeffco Schools previously announced a mask requirement for students 3-11, but only a mask recommendation for vaccinated students 12 and up.
The new mandate goes into effect Tuesday.
Staff, visitors and volunteers must also wear masks while indoors at school and district buildings.
"We know this announcement is coming very late as we begin school tomorrow. Please understand we are sharing this change requiring everyone age 2 and older to wear masks in our schools and buildings as soon as we received the public health order from JCPH," a letter from Jeffco Public Schools says. "The number one thing to know is that starting tomorrow, all students, staff, visitors, and volunteers must wear masks indoors at our schools regardless of vaccination status. There will be a supply of masks available at each school building for those who arrive without a mask."
The school district also announced Friday a district-run medical and religious exemption process, however, the new Public Health Order does not allow religious exemptions for wearing masks. Medical exemptions are still allowed.
3:45 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data
Here's the latest COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for Friday. A reminder that today's state data is an aggregate from the weekend as well as Monday's.
592,372 cases (+2,846)
33,773 hospitalized (+107)
64 counties (+0)
3,357,586 people tested (+12,718)
9,778,451 test encounters (+51,404)
7,041 deaths among cases (+9)
7,292 deaths due to COVID-19 (+8)
5,651 outbreaks (+4)
The latest hospital data showed 632 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 49 more than Sunday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 5.75%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.
As of Monday, 3,566,882 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,247,013 people have been fully vaccinated.
2:55 p.m. | Douglas County reopens Fairgrounds mass vaccination site
Douglas County reopened its mass vaccination site at the Fairgrounds in Castle Rock for anyone wishing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. For people younger than 16 years of age, a parent or legal guardian must be present. Written parental consent is required for 16-17 year olds.
Times are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from noon to 7 p.m.
Click here for the COVID-19 live blog for Aug. 9-Aug. 15, 2021.