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Coronavirus in Colorado: COVID-19 updates for Dec. 7-Dec. 13, 2020

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Posted at 8:29 AM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-13 18:06:12-05

More than 270,000 people in Colorado have tested positive for COVID-19 and almost 15,000 have been hospitalized as of Monday morning, 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:

Sunday, Dec. 13

4:06 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 numbers for Colorado

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers for Colorado, as of 4 p.m. Saturday, with the change from Friday in parentheses.

288,193 cases (+2,559)
16,126 hospitalized (+34)
64 counties (+0)
1,955,606 people tested (+11,747)
3,773,301 test encounters (+35,198)
3,958 deaths among cases: (+87)
3,012 deaths due to COVID (+0)
2,614 outbreaks (+5)

The latest hospital data showed 1,610 beds in use by COVID-19 patients or suspected COVID-19 patients. Friday's three-day average positivity rate in Colorado was 9.06%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

Saturday, Dec. 12

4 p.m. | Latest coronavirus numbers for Colorado

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers for Colorado, as of 4 p.m. Saturday, with the change from Friday in parentheses:

285,634 cases (+3,961)
16,092 hospitalized (+143)
64 counties (+0)
1,943,859 people tested (+14,870)
3,738,103 test encounters (+46,640)
3,871 deaths among cases: (+25)
3,012 deaths due to COVID (+0)
2,609 outbreaks (+26)

The latest hospital data showed 1,607 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 68 less than Friday. Friday's three-day average positivity rate was 9.29%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

Friday, Dec. 11

7:41 p.m. | US allows emergency COVID-19 vaccine in bid to end pandemic

The U.S. has given the final go-ahead to the nation's first COVID-19 vaccine, launching emergency vaccinations in a bid to end the pandemic.

Colorado is expecting to receive 46,800 doses by next week, with health workers and nursing home residents first in line to receive inoculations.

According to the Associated Press, about 3 million doses of the vaccine are expected in the first shipments around the country, according to officials with Operation Warp Speed.

In a letter of authorization, the FDA said that in an ongoing trial of 44,000 people, the agency found the vaccine was safe and more than 90% effective in older adults.

In a press release, the FDA said participants in the trial complained of several side effects, which included pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever.

The FDA added that these side effects typically lasted several days, and people experienced the side effects after the second dose than after the first dose.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they had moved up part of its COVID vaccine authorization meeting from Sunday to Saturday.

4 p.m. | Latest coronavirus numbers for Colorado

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers for Colorado, as of 4 p.m. Friday, with the change from Thursday in parentheses:

281,673 cases (+4,678)
15,949 hospitalized (+293)
64 counties (+0)
1,928,989 people tested (+14,186)
3,691,463 test encounters (+48,945)
3,846 deaths among cases (+87)
3,012 deaths due to COVID-19 (+7)
2,583 outbreaks (+25)

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospital beds in use as of December 11, 2020

The latest hospital data showed 1,675 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 16 more than Thursday. Thursday's three-day average positivity rate was 9.14%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

9:40 a.m. | CDPHE identifies locations that will receive COVID-19 vaccines

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has collaborated with local public health agencies to prepare health care facilities to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and distribute them.

The CDPHE said it has identified places across the state with ultra-low temperature freezers to receive the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine. These locations are specialized and can store, monitor and handle vaccines in temperatures -60 to -80 degrees Celsius. The locations were also willing to redistribute vaccines to other providers in their regions. While choosing these locations, the state also considered transportation logistics in winter conditions.

The first shipment will be 46,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The second shipment will be 95,600 of the Moderna vaccine.

The first two shipments of vaccine will be allocated to the following locations:

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*Locations also serving as hubs to help distribute vaccines to other locations

8:30 a.m. | Polis will hold update on COVID-19

Gov. Jared Polis will provide an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic at 11:15 a.m.

Denver7 will stream it on mobile, Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire apps.

Thursday, Dec. 10

9:30 p.m. | VA ECHCS to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses

The VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System (VA ECHCS) announced it is one of the 37 VA sites chosen to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

It was selected for its Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center’s ability to vaccinate a large number of people and store the vaccine at extremely cold temperatures.

9:15 p.m. | Douglas County Board of Education unanimously votes for a phased return to in-person learning.

The Douglas County Board of Education unanimously voted Thursday for a phased return to in-person learning next semester, in support of Superintendent Wise's plan.

The plan calls for the return to in-person learning of pre-K through elementary on Jan. 5. Middle and high schoolers will start the year fully remote and middle schoolers could possibly return to a hybrid model between Jan. 25. and Feb. 1. High school students could be returning to the classroom from Feb. 22 through March 1.

4 p.m. | Colorado reports over 3,000 deaths due to the novel coronavirus

Deaths due to the novel coronavirus reached over 3,000 on Thursday, and the state reported over 4,000 cases for a second time this week., according to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The state's positivity rate remains over 11% - nearly 3x the state goal.

276,995 cases (+4,649)
15,656 hospitalized (+136)
64 counties (+0)
1,914,803 tested (+15,233)
3,642,518 test encounters (+50,721)
3,759 deaths among cases (+120)
3,005 deaths due to COVID-19 (+72)
2,558 outbreaks (+32)

The latest hospital data shows 1,659 hospital beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients – 25 fewer than Wednesday with 241 patients discharged or transferred from hospitals over the past 24 hours and 97% of state hospitals reporting. Wednesday's seven-day average positivity rate in Colorado was 11.23%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospital beds in use as of December 10, 2020

Click here to explore the latest COVID-19 case data for Colorado

7:30 a.m. | Colorado unemployment numbers for week ending Dec. 5

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported that 19,024 regular initial unemployment claims were filed during the week ending Dec. 5. There were also 17,232 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims filed for the same week.

Since mid-March, 662,508 regular initial unemployment claims have been filed. That's a grand total of 876,440 claims, including federal PUA benefits.

For the week ending Nov. 28, a combined total of 224,592 continued claims were filed from the regular UI (90,867), PUA (63,694), and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (70,031) programs.

7:20 a.m. | US unemployment claims jump to 853,000 amid resurgence of coronavirus

The number of people applying for unemployment aid across the U.S. jumped last week to 853,000, the most since September, evidence that some companies are cutting more jobs as new virus cases spiral higher. Read more here.

Wednesday, Dec. 9

4:15 p.m. | Latest coronavirus numbers

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers for Colorado, as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, with the change from Tuesday in parentheses:

272,346 cases (+3,757)
15,520 hospitalized (+563)
64 counties (+0)
1,899,570 tested (+11,560)
3,591,797 test encounters (+40,346)
3,639 deaths among cases (+267)
2,933 deaths due to COVID-19 (+149)
2,526 outbreaks (+123)

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospital beds in use as of December 9, 2020

The latest hospital data shows 1,684 hospital beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients – 71 fewer than Tuesday with 205 patients discharged or transferred from hospitals over the past 24 hours and 96% of state hospitals reporting. Tuesday's three-day average positivity rate in Colorado was 11.26%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

4 p.m. | CDPHE, City of Greeley hosting free COVID-19 community testing site

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Enivironment (CDPHE) and the City of Greeley announced a new, free COVID-19 testing site Wednesday.

The site is located at the Youth Sports Field at 1850 65th Ave. After a soft launch in late Novemeber, it's now open to the general public seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Online pre-registration is highly encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. The site can preform at least 600 tests a day. Results are returned to patients within 24-48 hours.

3:45: | Classrooms at two Roaring Forks Schools transitioning to distance learning

Positive COVID-19 cases at two Roaring Forks Schools are leading to some classrooms transitioning to distance learning.

A student or staff member at Basalt Middle School tested positive for the virus. The entire 5th grade will move to distance learning because it’s a cohort. Students in grades 6-8 will remain in normal session. In-person learning for the 5th grade will resume Dec. 16

Glenwood Springs Middle School is also transitioning one class with less than 16 students to distance learning for a positive COVID-19 case. All students who have been exposed will quarantine through Dec. 22 and return to school after winter break.

3:30 p.m. | Colorado releases finalized vaccine distribution plan; about 140K doses expected in next 2 weeks

People working in COVID-19 wards who have direct contact with patients, and staff and residents at Colorado’s long-term care facilities, will be the first people to receive the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines when they arrive in coming weeks.

That’s according to the finalized vaccine prioritization plan released by the state Wednesday and discussed at a news conference by Gov. Jared Polis, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID-19 incident commander, and local public health and Colorado National Guard officials.

When are the vaccines coming?

Coloradans have known since earlier this month that the state would be receiving 46,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from an order placed Dec. 4, and CDPHE COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman said Wednesday that the state would be receiving an initial shipment of 95,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine as well – both in coming weeks.

The federal government is allocating the vaccines to states based on their population’s share of the U.S. population. Bookman said that Colorado would likely place its order for its share of the Moderna vaccine on Thursday or Friday this week.

--When will I get vaccinated?

The state has essentially split its vaccine prioritization into four phases: Phase 1A, Phase 1B, Phase 2 and Phase 3.

Officials said they hoped to stick to the plans but said those relied on the federal government receiving and sending out vaccines on schedule and at the numbers expected. The state first started discussing the plan publicly, which has since changed, mid-October.

“We know that early doses are going to be very limited,” Bookman said. “Over time, they’ll expand. All will be free. Every county will have access to the vaccine.”

Phase 1A will include vaccinations for the aforementioned group of people working directly with COVID-19 patients, and residents and staff at long-term care facilities, which have seen among the largest outbreaks and number of deaths in Colorado during the pandemic. Bookman said this group would start receiving the vaccines as soon as they are received.

Phase 1B recipients will include health care workers who have less exposure to COVID-19 patients; people working in home health, hospice and dental facilities; and first responders, including EMS personnel, police and deputies, correctional workers, dispatchers, funeral home workers and COVID-19 testing and response workers.

Bookman said the majority of the people in Phase 1A and 1B will get vaccinated through their employer or a local public health agency if they are health care providers, and that staff and residents at long-term care facilities would likely be getting them at pharmacies, like Walgreens and CVS, through a federal partnership program.

Phase 2 recipients will include people age 65 and up, those with chronic medical conditions and health care and essential workers not covered in Phases 1A or 1B. That includes people with chronic lung disease, heart disease and the immunocompromised.

It also will include essential workers who interact directly with the public – such as grocery store workers, school staff, people who work at meatpacking plants and on farms, health care workers who are not covered in either of the first phases – and people who went through clinical vaccine trials but received placebos.

Phase 2 recipients will receive the vaccine in the spring, officials said, after Phase 1B recipients have received theirs.

And Phase 3 of the vaccine distribution is expected to begin in the summer, which will be the phase when the rest of the general public – adults between 18-64 years of age with no high-risk conditions – will have the vaccines made available.

The state has created a new website for people to visit who have questions about which phase of the plan they might be in and has set up a hotline at 1-877-462-2911. The officials who spoke Wednesday said they knew there would be many, many questions from the public.

“As we learn more about Phase 2 and what Phase 3 looks like, we will provide more information about which providers are eligible to give the vaccine and the settings in which they’ll do it,” Bookman said.

The governor said that the finalized priorities were made in a manner to protect the health of those at risk of having the most severe outcomes, like older people who have much higher fatality rates from COVID-19, and those working consistently around patients with COVID-19.

“The moral path for society to take is to protect those far and away more likely to lose their lives to the virus,” he said.

Polis said people who are incarcerated will receive the vaccine on the same timeline as everyone else depending on where the fall in the phase process after several weeks of scrutiny of whether or not they would receive the vaccine as part of the first group or along with the same timeline as the rest of the population. Colorado jails and prisons have, along with long-term care facilities, seen among the largest outbreaks of COVID-19.

“No one will be penalized because they are incarcerated and no one will be given an advantage because they are incarcerated,” Polis said. “…Regardless of where you live, you’ll get the vaccine when your turn is up.”

He also said that for the moment, the vaccines will be for adults 18 and up only, though he said that if the vaccines end up being approved for children aged 12 and up, the state would modify its program.

Polis and the others who spoke at the news conference Wednesday said there would be local and state vaccine education materials and forums to educate people about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

He said the state is also reaching out to community leaders and faith leaders in communities of color to have them work as the ambassadors for education surrounding the vaccine.

Officials also stressed that the vaccination information will be kept private and that no people’s personal information would be shared with the federal government or others.

Click here to read the full story.

12 p.m. | Elbert County moving to Level Red

Elbert County Public Health announced Wednesday the county will move to Level Red: Severe Risk on the state's COVID-19 dial 12 a.m. Thursday.

Beginning Thursday, businesses, restaurants and other locations will be subject to Level Red capacity restrictions.

The county has had 744 PCR-confirmed and 51 serology-confirmed COVID-19 cases to date. Elbert County's two-week average positivity is 16.62%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

The two-week cumulative incidence rate is 790.68 cases per 100,000 population.

8:30 a.m. | First cases from Thanksgiving expected this week

The CDPHE said this week, we’ll start to see the first cases reported from Thanksgiving.

Anybody who tests positive is asked to share the results via Exposure Notifications to let others know they’ve been exposed. To do this, visit www.AddYourPhone.com.

Tuesday, Dec. 8

6:57 p.m. | Denver Public Schools announces timeline for return to in-person learning after the winter holidays

Denver Public Schools has released a plan for the return of students to in-person learning at the start of the second semester, despite uncertainty about what the next few weeks will look like for Denverites as the novel coronavirus continues to spread at an alarming rate.

The first week of the second semester for DPS (Jan. 5-8) will have all students in K-12 start the new year remotely.

Starting Jan. 11, all early childhood education students (ECE) through 5th grade will return to in-person learning. The same will apply for all secondary SPED Centers and Newcomer Centers. Other secondary students will continue learning remotely.

The third and fourth weeks of January (Jan. 19-29) will see students in middle school and high school gradually returning to in-person learning, with students having to take “safety orientation days” and some having to learn in a hybrid-type schedule (half remote, half in-person).

By Feb. 1, all Denver Public Schools students whose families selected in-person learning will be back in the classroom.

School officials said the plan is not set in stone and may change based on COVID-19 conditions in the city.

Read the full story here.

4:15 p.m. | Latest coronavirus numbers

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers for Colorado, as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, with the change from Monday in parentheses:

268,589 cases (+3,971)
14,957 hospitalized (+53)
64 counties (+0)
1,888,010 tested (+14,222)
3,551,451 test encounters (+35,448)
3,372 deaths among cases (+14)
2,784 deaths due to COVID-19 (+8)
2,403 outbreaks (+0)

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospital beds in use as of December 8, 2020

The latest hospital data showed 1,755 beds in use by COVID-19 patients or suspected COVID-19 patients, 24 fewer than Monday. Colorado's three-day positivity rate for COVID-19 tests on Monday was 12.36%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

4:05 p.m. | Gov. Polis extends statewide mask mandate for another 30 days

Gov. Jared Polis has extended the statewide mask mandate for another 30 days, as Colorado continues to report more than 3,500 cases each day with the weekly positivity rate at 12.36% - nearly triple of what is recommended by health officials to curb the further spread of the disease.

"Wearing a mask is an easy and highly effective way to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19," his office said in a statement.

1:55 p.m. | Colorado First Gentleman Marlon Reis discharged from hospital after two days

Colorado First Gentleman Marlon Reis was discharged from the hospital Tuesday two days after he was admitted on Sunday because of worsening COVID-19 symptoms.

Gov. Jared Polis, who is Reis’s spouse, announced Reis was discharged from UCHealth at the University of Colorado Anschutz Campus and said he was feeling well.

“I am so thankful to the doctors, nurses, and staff and for the support and well wishes we received from friends, neighbors, and Coloradans during this time,” Reis said in a statement released by the governor’s office. “I hold everyone who has been affected by this deadly virus in my heart.”

Polis’ news release said he drove Reis home Tuesday morning and that doctors advised Reis to continue to take steroids for two more days.

On Monday, the governor’s office said Reis received dexamethasone for inflammation and remdesivir and that he had not required oxygen. The office said that he was looking forward “to returning home soon.”

Polis and Reis both announced on Nov. 28 that they had tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, their symptoms were mild. But Reis was admitted to the hospital on Sunday after experiencing a worsening cough and shortness of breath over the weekend, the governor’s office said.

Click here to read the full story.

7:40 a.m. | The launch of TeamUp JeffCo, creating new learning centers amid COVID-19

On Tuesday morning, the Jeffco Schools Foundation announced a new partnership with TeamUp Jeffco, a community initiative founded to provide support for Jeffco Public Schools school staff, students, and families with hybrid and remote learning during COVID-19.

The Community First Foundation awarded TeamUp Jeffco $186,000 — the single largest investment from the Jeffco Hope Fund to date.

TeamUp Jeffco will use these funds to open two Arvada learning community locations in January 2021.

“There is a need for community members, organizations, and businesses to work together to keep our students safe and learning,” said Jean Boylan, founder and program director for TeamUp Jeffco. “With the generous grant from the Community First Foundation Jeffco Hope Fund and support from the Jeffco Schools Foundation, TeamUp Jeffco will begin serving the students and families from Moore Middle School community."

Monday, Dec. 7

10:14 p.m. | Worship services, weddings now deemed essential in Colorado

Worship and wedding ceremonies as well as funerals are now classified as essential, according to an updated public health order from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

"This means that they must do their best to follow public health recommendations but may exceed recommended capacity caps if they cannot conduct their essential activity within those restrictions. They still must require masks indoors and other prevention measures like 6 foot spacing between members of different households and appropriate sanitation. Outdoor activities are still strongly preferred," the CDPHE said in a statement.

Institutions like museums, aquariums, or zoos may open indoors in order to perform educational functions, up to 25% or 25 people per room, whichever is fewer, the CDPHE said.

You can see the summary of changes here.

10 p.m. | Parker unanimously votes on resolution opposing Douglas County's move to Level Red

Parker Town Council unanimously voted on a resolution which opposes Douglas County being moved to Level Red on the state's COVID-19 dial.

Town Council members said the data does not show a high rate of transmission happens at restaurants. Some argued if big box stores can remain open, nearly at capacity, small restaurants should be able to, too.

5:24 p.m. | Colorado's 1st Gentleman Marlon Reis "in good spirits" after being admitted for worsening COVID-19 symptoms Sunday

Colorado's First Gentleman Marlon Reis, who was admitted to the hospital Sunday for worsening COVID-19 symptoms more than a week after being diagnosed with the disease is "in good spirits, and looks forward to returning home soon,” the governor's office said in a statement early Monday evening.

Both Reis and Gov. Jared Polis tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 28. At the time, Polis said both of their symptoms were mild. But over the weekend, Reis started to experience a slightly worsening cough and shortness of breath eight days after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

As a precaution, Gov. Polis drove Reis to the hospital in his personal vehicle to be reviewed and treated. Polis was not experiencing any additional symptoms, Monday's news release states.

Reis has received dexamethasone for inflammation and remdesivir and he has not required oxygen.

4:33 p.m. | Adams County extending curfew for another 30 days to prevent a possible "surge on surge"

Adams County Public Health officials will extend the county-wide curfew which went into effect on Nov. 7 for another 30 days "in an effort to prevent a possible “surge on surge” during the end of the year holidays."

The curfew prohibits everyone except essential workers from being in public streets from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

“With what are still the highest case rates in the Metro area, the threat of further hospitalizations and deaths is very real in Adams County. The curfew means that unless you are an essential worker or have an urgent reason to be out, everyone should be in their homes from 10 pm to 5 am. We understand that people are tired of this, but these public health measures are the roadmap for a faster and more sustainable recovery in our community without the necessity of moving to the complete Stay at Home orders that we had in the spring,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “The science is clear. There is no doubt that mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing, and limiting any small or large gatherings reduce the spread of the virus so that we can return to a strong economy and a normal life.”

4:18 p.m. | Parker voting on resolution opposing Douglas County being moved to Level Red

Parker City Council will vote on a resolution this evening opposing the CDPHE's move of Douglas County to Level Red, which shuts downs indoor dining and greatly reduces capacity at other venues.

4 p.m. | Latest coronavirus numbers for Colorado

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for Colorado, as of 4 p.m. Monday, with the change from Sunday in parentheses:

264,618 cases (+4,037)
14,904 hospitalized (+36)
64 counties (+0)
1,873,788 tested (+15,447)
3,516,003 test encounters (+37,843)
3,358 deaths among cases (+2)
2,776 deaths due to COVID-19 (+52)
2,403 outbreaks (+17)

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospital beds in use as of December 7, 2020

The latest hospital data showed 1,779 beds in use by COVID-19 patients or suspected COVID-19 patients, 29 more than Sunday. Colorado's three-day positivity rate for COVID-19 tests Sunday was 12.36%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

2 p.m. | Larimer County finalizing "Level Up" plan

Larimer County officials Monday said they were finalizing a "Level Up" program that could allow businesses to stay open amid COVID-19 restrictions while also implementing safety protocols and prevention efforts.

"Our business leaders have helped us develop suppression plans. By listening to them and what works "on the ground" we believe we'll have more success and buy-in and ultimately fewer cases of covid19," the county's pandemic recovery manager, Laura Levy, wrote in an email. "Our goal is to find ways to improve safety protocols, suppress the virus during our most challenging months to support our public health efforts and hospitals and help businesses to stay open. By developing a plan that can be quickly adaptive and responsive, we believe we can successfully achieve that balance."

Loveland businesses who have defied the latest public health orders called the Level Up program "tremendous progress" in helping them keep their businesses open. The county will have to submit its plan to the state for approval.

Mesa County has implemented a so-called 5 Star Program, which allows certified restaurants to operate outside of the state's Level Red restrictions, so long as certain COVID-19 protocols are taken.

8:02 a.m. | Free COVID-19 testing at Montbello High School

Free COVID-19 testing is now available at Montbello High School through Dec. 31, thanks to COVIDCheck Colorado. The school is located at 5000 Crown Boulevard in Denver. Any Colorado resident can register online for a free test at https://covidcheckcolorado.org/.

Click here for the COVID-19 live blog from Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2020.