Coronavirus in Colorado: COVID-19 updates for Aug. 23-Aug. 29, 2021

Posted at 10:59 AM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 23:19:09-04

More than 598,000 people in Colorado have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 34,900 have been hospitalized as of Sunday, 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.

Latest updates:

Friday, Aug. 287

9:18 p.m. | Greeley-Evans District 6 to require masks for Pre-K through 8th grade

Masks will now be required for Pre-K through 8th grade students, staff and visitors while indoors at all non-charter Greeley-Evans School District 6 schools beginning Monday.

The board of education passed the motion in a special session Friday.

“Our Board of Education feels a strong responsibility to protect the students who attend District 6 schools. The love for our students and the recognition that we have to do whatever we can to keep them safe and learning during this pandemic has driven this decision. My greatest hope is that this decision will not become another distraction to our student’s learning and that our families will help make this transition as smooth as possible for students. This decision was made with the best of intentions, to help protect the safety and health of our students and staff, and to allow us to continue our primary mission: To educate the students of Greeley-Evans School District 6,” board President Michael Matthews said in a statement.

Read the full story here.

4:52 p.m. | Denver offering resources for rent, utility assistance

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow evictions to resume, the City and County of Denver is reminding residents of resources available to help.

The Denver Department of Housing Stability contracts with nonprofit partners to provide eviction legal assistance to households who meet income guidelines, as well as to seniors, without regard to income.

There is also rent and utility assistance available for residents who meet the income guidelines. Households may be eligible for up to 15 months of rent assistance.

Households can apply here or by calling 1-844-926-6632.

4:46 p.m. | Vaccinations, delta variant increase in Denver

Since Mayor Michael Hancock’s announcement requiring vaccination for all city employees and private-sector workers in high-risk settings, the City and County of Denver has seen a “steady increase” in vaccinations.

In the two weeks since the announcement, Denver residents initiated vaccinations have increased 85%, according to the Denver Department of Health and Environment (DDPHE).

While vaccinations are up, so is the spread of the delta variant in Denver. DDPHE reports the a 38% increase in Denver, with 347 confirmed cases this week compared to 216 last week.

DDPHE recommends vaccination to prevent further spread and mutation of the virus, saying it’s “extremely important” for anyone eligible to get vaccinated.

4:30 p.m. | Colorado hospitals re-activate Tier 1 of Combined Hospital Transfer Center as hospitalizations rise

Colorado hospitals on Friday reactivated Tier 1 of the Combined Hospital Transfer Center to move patients around the state as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to increase and some near their capacity for available beds.

Tier 1 of the CHTC first was activated last November during the rapid influx of hospitalizations in Colorado’s third wave, but it was deactivated in February as case and hospitalization numbers waned in Colorado.

The number of people hospitalized as of Friday in Colorado has not been this high since late January.

The Colorado Hospital Association said some hospitals in the state are starting to report concerns about bed capacity and staffing shortages. The activation of Tier 1 allows hospitals to transfer patients to different hospitals with better capacities or that can provide the necessary care.

That helps rural hospitals, which generally have fewer beds and fewer acute care options than Colorado’s urban hospitals, are able to transfer patients more easily so they can get the care they need.

Colorado data showed that 1,463 of the 1,715 intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the state were in use on Friday and that there were 793 confirmed or suspected COVID-10 patients currently hospitalized. The state’s data says 9% of hospitals are anticipating ICU bed shortages in the next week and 18% were anticipating staff shortages over the same time period.

Regional-level data shows in the Plains to Peak Regional Emergency Medical and Trauma Services Advisory Council area, only 9% of ICU beds are available. In the Northeast region, 1% are available, and in the South region, 11% are available.

The data shows that 1,564 of 9,552 acute care beds in the state are currently available. The number of acute care beds in use has jumped by nearly 300 over the past 30 days.

Click here to read the full story.

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 continue to inch closer to 800, levels not seen since mid-January, as the number of new cases surpasses 2,000 for the first time since late April. Here's the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE):

610,127 cases (+2,080)
35,453 hospitalized (+53)
64 counties (+0)
3,436,578 people tested (+10,181)
10,067,407 test encounters (+36,749)
7,111 deaths among cases (+16)
7,396 deaths due to COVID-19 (+15)
5,749 outbreaks (+12)

The latest hospital data showed 793 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 5 more than Thursday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.40%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

As of Wednesday, 3,629,103 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,303,665 people have been fully vaccinated.

1:05 p.m. | Cherry Creek Schools extends mask requirement to 7th, 8th graders

Students in seventh and eighth grade at Cherry Creek Schools will be required to wear masks starting Monday after the district updated its mask requirement policy Friday amid increasing cases at elementary and middle schools.

Superintendent Christopher Smith said the district has not seen significant spread at schools so far but said community spread was among the reason behind the decision to extend the mask requirement to the rest of middle schoolers. They had previously been required for students and staff in Pre-K through 6th grade.

“Through working with our middle school principals, we have learned that the interaction of students at all levels in middle school, while minimal, is enough that masking all students and staff is the best strategy,” Smith wrote in a letter to families. “With masks now required for all students in grades PreK through eighth grade, we will have greater success at keeping schools open for In-Person learning through the fall.”

The district’s dashboard showed 86 students with positive COVID-19 cases and 18 staff members as of Friday afternoon.

Smith also reiterated that masks are strongly encouraged for high school students and staff and that people who are eligible should get vaccinated.

Click here to read the full story.

9:41 a.m. | City of Pueblo implements mask mandate indoors for all city buildings

The City of Pueblo is implementing an indoor mask mandate at all city buildings, "to ensure continued and uninterrupted municipal operations and in solidarity with the students of our community," officials said in a news release Friday.

More information can be found here.

Thursday, Aug. 26

11:45 p.m. | Outbreak among 6th grade reported at Newton Middle School

Littleton Public Schools confirmed Thursday there's an outbreak in 6th grade at Newton Middle School.

The Tri-County Health Department made the determination Thursday and established that all 6th grade students have to quarantine through Sept. 3.

Students will have to switch to remote learning during the quarantine.

The quarantine does not apply to 7th or 8th grade students at the middle school.

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Here is the latest COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for Thursday:

608,047 cases (+1,811)
35,400 hospitalized (+114)
64 counties (+0)
3,426,397 people tested (+7,967)
10,030,658 test encounters (+30,410)
7,095 deaths among cases (+7)
7,381 deaths due to COVID-19 (+8)
5,737 outbreaks (+11)

The latest hospital data showed 788 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 25 fewer than Wednesday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.28%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

As of Wednesday, 3,623,271 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,297,575 people have been fully vaccinated.

Wendesday, Aug. 25

11:30 p.m. | Colorado receives additional FEMA funding for COVID-19 response

The state of Colorado has received an additional $7.6 million in additional Public Assistance funding from FEMA for the ongoing COVID-19 response.

The $7.6 million was provided to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment for outreach efforts including translation and language services, media campaigns and temporary staffing. The department also used this funding for equipment and contractor support services.

The assistance was made available under a major disaster declaration issued March 28, 2020. In total, Colorado has received $960.5 million from FEMA for COVID-19 response.

3:45 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 surpassed 800 for the first time since Jan. 20, according to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

606,236 cases (+1,720)
35,286 hospitalized (+29)
64 counties (+0)
3,418,430 people tested (+7,555)
10,000,248 test encounters (+25,671)
7,088 deaths among cases (+4)
7,373 deaths due to COVID-19 (+19)
5,726 outbreaks (+11)

The latest hospital data showed 813 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 29 more than Tuesday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.48%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

As of Wednesday, 3,617,055 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,291,661 people have been fully vaccinated.

3:13 p.m. | Polis meets with White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator

Gov. Jared Polis met with Jeffrey Zients, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, during a National Governors Association meeting Wednesday.

Polis said he discussed with Zients Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the booster shot campaign. Polis noted Colorado has the 10th lowest COVID-19 death rate per capita, and the state has a higher than average vaccination rate.

The governor said he also discussed the COVID-19 booster shot campaign. He said he suggested a 60 day window that would shorten the length of time before getting a third shot from the recommended 8 months to 6 months. Zients told the governor that the federal government is actually looking at a six month period for the booster shot.

Watch the full news conference below:

Full news conference: Gov. Polis talks about the state campaign for booster shots during news conference on Aug. 25, 2021

10:01 a.m. | Colorado Symphony, Ballet, Opera and more to require COVID-19 vaccines, masks indoors starting Oct. 1

All resident companies of downtown Denver’s Performing Arts Complex will require COVID-19 vaccines and face masks for indoor, public performances starting Oct. 1, officials with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) announced Wednesday.

That means patrons ages 12 and older wishing to attend performances of the Colorado Ballet, the Colorado Symphony, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Opera Colorado will be required to show proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. DCPA officials said they are currently determining the process to verify vaccine information.

Children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, will be instead required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within six hours of the performance start time, DCPA officials said in a news release.

The new policy applies to all ticketed public performance taking place in Boettcher Concert Hall, Ellie Caulkins Opera House, and the Buell, Garner Galleria, Wolf, Kilstrom, Singleton and Jones theatres, the release stated.

DCPA officials said Wednesday’s announcement comes after months of audience surveys, which found the vast majority of people would be more likely to attend performances if a vaccination requirement were to be implemented.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, Aug. 24

11:45 p.m. | STEM School asks parents to prepare for possible remote learning

Several grades at STEM School Highlands Ranch are under quarantine for positive COVID-19 cases, and the school said parents should prepare for the possibility that all grades may have to transition to remote learning.

On Monday, the school reported multiple 6th grade students were positive with COVID-19 and more were getting tested for experiencing COVID-like symptoms. The school announced all 6th grade students would move to remote learning through Aug. 30.

On Tuesday, STEM School reported multiple 2nd grade students either tested positive for COVID-19 or presumed positive. Students will go remote for Aug. 25, and more details on the potential for further quarantine and the length of time for remote learning will be announced Wednesday.

This comes after the school reported students testing positive for COVID-19 in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classrooms on Monday; 1st grade students on Friday and and 8th grade student on Thursday.

The school said in its latest update it hopes it doesn’t happen but families need to “begin to prepare for the possibility of transitioning to virtual learning.”

“As our number of positive and presumed-positive COVID cases continue to increase, we could have to transition our remaining grades to virtual learning for a 14-day period, per TCHD orders. With our outbreak in first grade, and the potential for another outbreak-classification in second grade, we are considered to be at an ‘Elevated Status.’ This means that TCHD would require us to send all students remote, while the affected areas within the Elementary School are deep cleaned,” the letter to families says.

Tri-County Health Department is investigating the outbreaks.

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Here is the latest COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for Tuesday:

604,516 cases (+1,250)
35,257 hospitalized (+161)
64 counties (+0)
3,410,875 people tested (+6,330)
9,974,577 test encounters (+19,924)
7,084 deaths among cases (+6)
7,354 deaths due to COVID-19 (+7)
5,715 outbreaks (+14)

The latest hospital data showed 784 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 50 more than Monday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.48%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

As of Tuesday, 3,610,893 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,285,724 people have been fully vaccinated.

3:30 p.m. | Jonas Brothers will require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for Red Rocks concert

People attending the Jonas Brothers concert on Sept. 5 at Red Rocks will be required to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the concert, Red Rocks said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

1:23 p.m. | Adams County commissioners vote to opt out of Tri-County school mask requirement

The Adams County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday morning to opt out of the Tri-County Health Department’s public health order requiring masks in schools and child care settings for kids ages 2-11.

The motion to opt out was made by Chairperson Eva Henry, who said she supported masking in schools but called the health department’s order flawed because it allowed counties to opt out of it. The commissioners said their decision gives each school district the ability to continue to follow their current protocols or to change them.

All five members of the board of commissioners are Democrats who said they favored masking in school, but some said they felt they didn’t have the authority to make health-related decisions and others felt the TCHD should not have allowed the opt-out clause.

Henry and Commissioners Chaz Tedesco and Lynn Baca voted in favor of opting out of the health department order, while Commissioners Emma Pinter and Steve O’Dorisio voted against the measure.

“Commissioners up here, like Commissioner Pinter pointed out, are not medical professionals like the ones at the board of health,” Henry said just before the vote. “So, if this is important enough to the board of health, then they need to do a directive and not an opt out.”

Douglas County commissioners also opted out of the mask requirements in a vote last week, but the Douglas County School District is still requiring them for kids in preschool through 6th grade.

Adams County Commissioner Lynn Baca echoed Henry’s sentiments and said the opt-out clause made the health department’s measure flawed. She also suggested leaving the health department and having Adams County form its own later this fall.

“I do favor the mask mandate. I believe the mask mandate may not go far enough. And I also believe that we are at the beginning, at the bottom, of a mountain of COVID, who is still the enemy,” she said. “Not each other. Not the person sitting next to you. Not eastern versus western Adams County. Not Republican versus Democrat. Not your freedom of choice versus my nieces and nephews. So, I’m going to vote in favor today of the opt out option for Adams County, with the long term that we send the message to Tri-County health that the opt out no longer works for us, and to correct that.”

Dozens of people showed up to protest masks ahead of the meeting, and many of them continued to press against mask requirements during public comment that came after the commissioners voted to opt out of the TCHD order.

Pinter, who voted against opting out, said since the commissioners appoint members to the TCHD board, she believes the commissioners should support the board’s decision.

“When we ask them to make a recommendation to us, they make that recommendation. It is our job to take the recommendation of those members of the board of health — who quite frankly have put their lives on the line, who have feared for their safety for the past year and a half —and we need to make sure that we have the backs of the people we appointed to the board of heath,” she said. “I would implore my colleagues to take our authority, which we have delegated to Tri-County Health, and take the recommendations seriously, and follow this order, which is designed to protect our children.”

Click here to read the full story.

Monday, Aug. 23

5:47 p.m. | Aurora Public Schools to require vaccines for staff after full FDA approval for Pfizer

All Aurora Public Schools employees will have to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 7 now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the district told employees Monday.

The requirement will apply to all APS employees, student teachers, teacher residents, interns and volunteers, according to a letter sent to employees by APS Chief Personnel Officer Damon Smith on Monday and obtained by Denver7.

They will have to show their supervisor a vaccine record card or immunization card, and the proof of vaccination will be entered into the district’s human resources system. If an employee is not vaccinated by Oct. 7, they will be subject to discipline, including suspension, unpaid leave and termination.

Employees will be able to apply for an exemption or accommodation based on a disability, religion or other medical reasons. People who receive an exemption will be required to wear a mask or other PPE at work, practice physical distancing and test periodically for COVID-19.

"Federal law permits employers to require employees to provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination," Smith wrote in the letter. "This information, like all medical information, must be kept confidential and maintained separately from the employee's personnel files under the Americans with Disabilities Act."

The district said back in May that it planned to require all staff to get vaccinated before the start of the school year – contingent on the full FDA approval of one or more of the vaccines.

Click here to read the full story.

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Hospitalizations for suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across Colorado. As of Monday, the state reported more than 730 hospitalizations - levels not seen since late January. Here are the latest numbers from the CDPHE. A reminder that today's state data is an aggregate from the weekend as well as Monday's.

603,266 cases (+4,326)
35,096 hospitalized (+143)
64 counties (+0)
3,404,545 people tested (+19,268)
9,954,653 test encounters (+71,892)
7,078 deaths among cases (+11)
7,347 deaths due to COVID-19 (+9)
5,701 outbreaks (+12)

The latest hospital data showed 734 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 11 more than Sunday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.55%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

As of Friday, 3,606,433 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,281,057 people have been fully vaccinated.

1:17 p.m. | Denver International Buskerfest at Union Station canceled for 2nd year in a row

The Denver International Buskerfest at Union Station, which was planned for Sept. 10-12 until 2022, has been canceled for a second year in a row.

"After much thought, consideration and watching the heightened issues around the Delta variant, we have determined that it is in everyone’s best interest to postpone the Denver International Buskerfest at Union Station which was planned for September 10-12, until 2022," said spokeswoman Danielle Dascalos. "This was a tough call. We considered that the event appeals to families, who may have unvaccinated young children and out of deference to the international performers."

Buskerfest is an outdoor festival that draws communities together to watch theater that is accessible to a wide ranging audience. Since its arrival in 2016, the festival has hosted highly-skilled local and international performers and drawn in thousands of audience members from all over the greater Denver area.

9:54 a.m. | Gov. Polis says FDA approval of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is important step to in fight against virus, variants

Gov. Jared Polis issued the following statement Monday morning following the FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine:

“I know that some people were waiting for full FDA approval to get vaccinated, and now that day is finally here and you can start the protection clock today. This remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated and we know that the Delta variant has threatened our progress, our economy and way of life and the FDA approval of the vaccine is a step forward.”

7:40 a.m. | FDA grants full approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued full approval to the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic," acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement. "While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product.”

The full approval for the vaccine, which will now be marketed under the name "Comirnaty," applies to people 16 and older. The vaccine is still available for kids aged 12 through 15 under emergency use authorization.

Top health officials in the U.S. hope that granting full approval to the Pfizer vaccine will alleviate the fears among those who remain hesitant about getting a shot.

Read the full story here.

Click here for the COVID-19 live blog for April 16-April 22, 2021.