Coronavirus in Colorado: COVID-19 updates for Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2021

Posted at 12:55 PM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 18:24:47-04

More than 660,800 people in Colorado have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 38,100 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, Oct. 1

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Here is Friday's COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

673,517 cases (+2,154)
38,752 hospitalized (+204)
64 counties (+0)
3,716,775 people tested (+8,106)
11,171,279 test encounters (+39,143)
7,594 deaths among cases (+51)
7,887 deaths due to COVID-19 (+13)
6,153 outbreaks (+11)

The latest hospital data showed 917 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 7 fewer than Thursday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.44%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

As of Friday, 3,779,286 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,465,294 people have been fully vaccinated.

2:45 p.m. | Denver says nearly 99% of city employees fully vaccinated or exempt as mandate takes effect

Nearly 99% of Denver city employees were either fully vaccinated or received an exemption as of noon Friday as the COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline passed, according to the city.

City data shows 98.7% of full-time city employees had been fully vaccinated by noon Friday – a total of 10,704 people. The city said 652 people had received exemptions out of 778 that were submitted. Seventy-one requests for exemptions were denied, and 14 are still under review.

“We’re grateful to the over 98 percent of city employees who came into compliance with the public health order,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. “Our city employees have always put service to their community first, and they have demonstrated that once again by getting vaccinated.”

Thursday was the deadline for city employees to submit their proof of vaccination or exemptions. Employees who have not received an exemption will now be subject to a series of potential punishments, though they will still have some time to get vaccinated.

The city said this week it would start sending contemplation of discipline letters to those who are not in compliance Friday. First offenses will result in a presumptive 10-day unpaid suspension, and second offenses will end in a presumptive firing, the city attorney’s office said.

Employees who received exemptions will have to wear a mask, stay physically distanced from others and get a PCR test every five days.

According to city data, 98.3% of 1,760 Denver Police Department workers are fully vaccinated. The Denver Sheriff Department is 95.3% vaccinated – among the lowest percentages in city departments. The 87.5% of the small Board of Adjustment for Zoning Appeals Agency that is fully vaccinated represents the lowest vaccination rate among city departments and agencies. Several of the departments and agencies are 100% vaccinated, according to the city.

Click here to read the full story.

2 p.m. | CDPHE COVID-19 update

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said in a brief update Friday afternoon that COVID-19 cases in Colorado have been trending downward and that the state “continues to do quite well” compared to other states in terms of transmission rates.

Some counties are faring worse than others; most are seeing a decline but Moffat, Grand and Mesa counties, and those in the San Luis Valley, are still experiencing rising cases.

The highest rates continue to be in the 6-11 age group that cannot get vaccinated, Herlihy said.

Scott Bookman, the CDPHE COVID-19 incident commander, said Colorado still had worked to do to lower its number of hospitalizations, though he said they were seeing a downward trend as well. On Thursday, there were 846 people hospitalized with COVID, but that dropped to 829 on Friday, Bookman said.

Both officials continued to stress the importance of vaccinated. Bookman said 78% of people currently hospitalized are not vaccinated in a state where more than 75% of eligible people are fully vaccinated.

Watch the full briefing in the player below.

CDPHE officials say COVID hospitalizations have started to decline

1: 59 p.m. | CSU president Joyce McConnell tests positive for COVID-19

CSP President Joyce McConnell told students, teachers and staff in a letter dated Friday that she tested positive for COVID-19 following contact with a COVID-19 positive individual last weekend.

"Thankfully, I am feeling absolutely fine. I have been vaccinated since March and I believe that being fully inoculated has significantly lessened my symptoms," McConnell said. "I am following the expert guidance of our public health team and isolating through next weekend. Disappointingly, this means that I will be missing the homecoming festivities this week."

She said CSU's public health department is now doing contact tracing to determine who should also get tested as a result of having been in close proximity to the CSU president since her exposure.

"Sharing this news drives home to me once again just how much the COVID pandemic continues to affect all our lives. I am so grateful to all of you in our CSU community for the support we’ve provided to one another throughout the past 18+ months," McConnell said. "Together, by getting vaccinated, masking while indoors, getting tested, and isolating or quarantining when needed, we have made a huge difference in the health of our community. I know we can continue to do so with every new good decision we make. As for me, a decision that I am making as soon as I am cleared to do so will be to get my booster shot."

1:08 p.m. | Douglas County School District to continue to require indoor masks regardless of vaccination status

Despite the formation of a new health department after Douglas County commissioners voted to leave the Tri-County Health Department, the Douglas County School District said Friday it will nonetheless continue to require the wearing of masks inside all school buildings for students, teachers, staff and visitors regardless of vaccination status.

The district argued that it is still subject to Tri-County Health's quarantine rules and that removing masks indoors would result in increased quarantines "similar to last year."

"In other words, anytime an unmasked and unvaccinated student or staff member was exposed (e.g. identified as a close contact to someone who is symptomatic or positive for COVID), they would be required to quarantine. As an example, if there was a COVID exposure in an elementary school classroom and half of the students were wearing masks, the other half that was not wearing masks would have to be quarantined," the district said in a letter to teachers, parents, students and staff.

The letter continued: "As you may recall, last year’s quarantine protocols took a huge toll on DCSD’s students, staff, and families and required significant resources and hours to be dedicated to contact tracing and quarantine/exposure communications. Many students were continuously moving back and forth between in-person and remote learning. It was impossible to provide students with a consistent and stable learning environment. ... Our students and staff need routine and consistency. Of course, DCSD will continue to honor medical exemptions for masks, and incorporate mask breaks where possible through outdoor learning, etc."

District superintendent Corey Wise said in closing remarks since implementing masks in schools, the incidence rates of COVID-19 have been going down in the community.

12:37 p.m. | About 99% of Denver employees are vaccinated

As of 9 a.m. Friday, 98.6% of Denver city employees have submitted proof of vaccination or an approved exemption, the city reported.

All City and County of Denver employees are required to be vaccinated, per a public health order issued in early August.

11:25 a.m. | FEMA provides additional $120M to Colorado

FEMA approved more than $120 million in additional Public Assistance funding for Colorado's COVID-19 response. In total, FEMA has provided more than $1.6 billion for the state's response.

The $120 million was provided to the CDPHE to create and operate Community-Based Testing Sites to conduct statewide COVID-19 testing including supplies and equipment, transporting of tests, and processing of tests, according to a news release from FEMA.

10:55 a.m. | CDPHE press conference today

State officials will hold a press conference at 1:10 p.m. to discuss COVID-19 in Colorado.

CDPHE COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman, CDPHE State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy, and Colorado National Guard Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response Lt. Col. Jamie Pieper will be present.

Denver7 plans to stream this press conference.

Thursday, Sept. 30

4:10 p.m. | Denver COVID-19 vaccine employee data: 98% of all city employees fully vaccinated

More than 10,600 people who work for the city have been fully vaccinated, amounting to about 98% of all City of Denver employees, according to newly released data by the city.

You can view a breakdown of how many employees are fully vaccinated in the graphic below.

Employees who work for the city had until today to become fully vaccinated or face a series of consequences, ultimately resulting in termination.

4:02 p.m. | State adds booster data to CDPHE's COVID-19 data dashboard

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is now reporting how many Coloradans are getting a booster shot, following CDC approval last week to administer a third shot to certain groups who previously completed a Pfizer vaccine series.

Per the data from the state, more than 120,000 eligible Coloradans have received a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Here is Thursday's COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

671,363 cases (+2,405)
38,548 hospitalized (+20)
64 counties (+0)
3,708,669 people tested (+8,130)
11,132,130 test encounters (+37,654)
7,543 deaths among cases (+2)
7,874 deaths due to COVID-19 (+22)
6,142 outbreaks (+7)

The latest hospital data showed 924 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 32 fewer than Wednesday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.28%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

As of Thursday, 3,775,793 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,461,855 people have been fully vaccinated.

Wednesday, Sept. 29

11:50 p.m. | Large vaccination sites extend access for COVID-19 vaccine

Several large Colorado community vaccination sites will have extended access to provide COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City was set to close Sept. 30, but instead will remain open until Oct. 5 with the capacity to administer 1,000 doses a day.

Vaccination sites at Aurora Municipal Center, Southwest Plaza in Littleton and Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs will continue administering up to 1,000 doses a day through Oct. 3. After Oct. 3, the sites will still be able to administer 250 doses a day.

Appointments are not required for the free vaccine, but anyone interested can register here.

The sites can administer additional doses, including booster shots, which have been authorized for immunocompromised Coloradans. CDPHE sent out reminder text messages Wednesday to people due for their booster shot.

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Here is Wednesday's COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

668,958 cases (+1,592)
38,528 hospitalized (+43)
64 counties (+0)
3,700,539 people tested (+5,300)
11,094,476 test encounters (+24,315)
7,541 deaths among cases (+19)
7,852 deaths due to COVID-19 (+30)
6,135 outbreaks (+18)

The latest hospital data showed 956 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 4 more than Tuesday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.09%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

As of Wednesday, 3,772,343 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,458,682 people have been fully vaccinated.

3:29 p.m. | Colorado reactivates staffing shortage fusion center to help hospitals, other facilities facing staffing shortages

Colorado's Unified Coordination Center said Wednesday it had reactivated its Staffing Shortage Fusion Center (SSFC) to provide staffing at hospitals, residential care facilities, correctional facilities and other licensed care settings who may need it.

The fusion center was originally activated from November 2020 to March 2021 to support staffing shortages, according to state officials. Since April 1 and continuing up until now, a limited form of the program has helped staff personnel at residential care facilities, filling 994 shifts in 31 unique facilities.

State officials said the fusion center only accepts staffing requests for assistance directly related to COVID-19 in which staff shortages are impacting patient care.

Tuesday, Sept. 28

4:10 p.m. | Denver COVID-19 vaccine data: 98% of all city employees vaccinated against COVID-19

The latest COVID-19 vaccine data from the City of Denver shows 98% of all city employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Data broken down by department shows 97.1% of Denver Police Department employees have been vaccinated, compared to 93% of all employees of the Denver Sheriff Department. Employees with the Denver Fire Department show a 99.4% vaccination rate, according to the data.

Employees with the city have until today to get fully vaccinated or face a series of consequences for not doing so, including termination. More on that here.

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Here is Tuesday's COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

667,366 cases (+1,897)
38,485 hospitalized (+271)
64 counties (+0)
3,695,239 people tested (+5,314)
11,070,161 test encounters (+21,124)
7,522 deaths among cases (+19)
7,822 deaths due to COVID-19 (+14)
6,117 outbreaks (+18)

The latest hospital data showed 952 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 14 fewer than Monday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 6.03%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

As of Tuesday, 3,768,614 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,455,322 people have been fully vaccinated.

2:49 p.m. | Colorado officials urge more schools to participate in free testing program

Colorado officials continue to push more schools and districts to enroll in the state’s COVID-19 testing program, which less than one-third of schools in the state have indicated interest in as of Tuesday, according to the state.

Additionally, Gov. Jared Polis and Dr. Emily Travanty, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s scientific director of the Laboratory Services Division, said the demand for the BinaxNOW at-home rapid tests is currently exceeding the supply, though the state hopes to close that gap in coming weeks.

Travanty said there were 621 interested schools and 439 that had completed enrollment in the state’s free testing program for schools as of Tuesday and urged more schools and districts to sign up. Out of nearly 7,000 tests administered so far through the program, there have been 61 detected positive test results, according to data she presented at a news conference.

Data from the Colorado Department of Education shows there are 1,914 K-12 schools in the state.

Polis said the state wants more schools to enter the program in order to have “a significant impact” on reducing the spread of the virus in schools. The Denver Post reported last week that schools that have mask mandates have lower COVID-19 transmission rates, but officials said Tuesday they see the testing program as another way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within schools.

Aurora Public Schools said Monday in a note to district families that it would soon be participating in the weekly testing program along with CDPHE. For a full list of schools that are currently participating, click here.

However, Polis again Tuesday declined to say he would implement a mask requirement for schools statewide, saying that “schools are doing a great job ensuring they have a safe environment” and that for schools and districts that do not have mask requirements, the testing option was “a great alternative.”

Polis said the federally-funded school testing program could serve 10 times as many students and staff as it currently is.

He added that 18 kids under age 18 were currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 – 12 of whom are between 0 and 11 years old, and six of whom are between ages 12 and 17.

Out of 866 Coloradans currently hospitalized, 164, or 19% are vaccinated. Seventy-six percent of Coloradans are fully vaccinated, meaning the 702 unvaccinated people who are currently hospitalized are part of the 24% of Coloradans who are not vaccinated.

Polis said Colorado continues to have the sixth-lowest rate of COVID-19 cases across the country – which he said shows that vaccines work to mitigate the risk someone gets COVID-19, gets hospitalized due to the virus, and dies from it. Hospitalizations in the state remain on a plateau or slight decline, he said.

Travanty said the state has the capacity to test up to about 40,000 people per day between all the testing facilities and programs and that the state is currently averaging around 8,000 tests administered per day – only about 27% of its capacity. The average turnaround for test results is about two days, she said.

She said the state has shipped 70,024 BinaxNOW rapid at-home tests so far, with the backlog being about 7-14 days for delivery, as the CDPHE told Denver7 last Friday. Travanty said the state was working on making a queue for people who are interested in obtaining the tests, and Polis said the state was considering trying to divide up the eight-test kits into four-test kits to get more of them out to more people.

Click here to read the full story.

Monday, Sept. 27

4:10 p.m. | Longmont COVID-19 testing facility moves to Boulder County Fairgrounds as demand increases

Requests for free COVID-19 tests have increased in Longmont as cases of the highly transmissible delta variant continue to pop up across Colorado. In order to accommodate the growing demand, Longmont's testing site at Heart of Longmont Church has moved to the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road in Longmont.

Boulder County Public Health officials remind the public that anyone who may have been potentially exposed to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, should get tested.

“Although you may not have any symptoms, you can still spread COVID-19. If you think there is even a chance you have been exposed, go and get tested. Tests are easy to access, available to everyone for free, and results are returned quickly,” said Chris Campbell, Boulder County Public Health Emergency Manager.

People who are not fully vaccinated should seek testing 5-7 days after exposure (3-5 days for those that are fully vaccinated) or at any time if experiencing symptoms.

“Even with the numbers of fully vaccinated people increasing and the requirement to wearing masks indoors, we must continue to employ multiple, layered strategies to overcome this pandemic,” said Campbell. “Timely testing is essential for keeping our friends, families, colleagues and communities safe, healthy and thriving.”

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 data

Here is Monday's COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). A reminder that today's state data is an aggregate from the weekend as well as Monday's.

665,469 cases (+4,585)
38,214 hospitalized (+96)
64 counties (+0)
3,689,925 people tested (+20,558)
11,049,037 test encounters (+91,139)
7,503 deaths among cases (+31)
7,808 deaths due to COVID-19 (+8)
6,099 outbreaks (+12)

The latest hospital data showed 966 beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, 6 fewer than Sunday. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate was 5.94%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

As of Monday, 3,764,692 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,450,696 people have been fully vaccinated.

2:45 p.m. | Colorado Immunization Information System data: 121,548 booster shots given in Colorado as of Sept. 27

Officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) says that as of this Monday, 121,548 booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in Colorado since the the FDA authorized boosters on Sept. 22 for people 65 and older, those who are at a higher risk of serious illness, or those who work in high-risk settings.

Colorado currently has four mass vaccination sites operating for people who fall in the aforementioned categories to get their shot.

11:57 a.m. | Haven of Hope in Denver temporarily closes after kitchen staff test positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated

Haven of Home, which provides services for the homeless in Denver, said Monday it was temporarily closing its facility through Oct. 1 after at least three of their kitchen stuff tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated.

The shelter is handing out grab-and-go meals through Friday, Oct. 1 in the meantime.

"te. We simply do not have the staff to run all our services and cannot in good conscience ask volunteers to participate," siad executive director Tawnya Trahan.

The shelter will open for full services on Monday, Oct. 4, Trahan said.

"We will require strict masking for at least 2 weeks and will begin taking temperatures and health screening questions at the door once again until we are sure we have gotten control of this outbreak."

The staff who tested positive appear to be recovering quickly, she said, due to being vaccinated against the new virus.

11:55 a.m. | Signed up for Colorado’s free rapid at-home testing program but haven’t heard back? Have a little patience

If you haven’t heard back from the state after signing up for Colorado’s free rapid at-home testing program, state health officials are asking you to have a little patience.

In an email from the state Friday afternoon, a CDPHE spokeswoman said the state is reviewing all the requests that are coming through the enrollment form online and once approved, they’ll send an email confirming eligibility to order through the portal.

“Due to high demand, Coloradans can expect an email confirmation within 7-14 days," the spokeswoman told Denver7. She said someone trying to resubmit an order through the portal before they’ve received a confirmation email would receive an error message instead.

People who get approved to receive the free tests will be shipped four BinaxNOW test kits. Each kit includes two tests to be used twice weekly, for a total of eight tests per month. Those wanting more tests will have to reorder them on a monthly basis.

These over-the-counter tests may not be accepted by your employer or your airline, the spokeswoman warned, so be sure to check with them first before relying on one of these kits.

Read the full story here.

Click here for the COVID-19 live blog for Sept. 20-Sep. 26, 2021.