Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates for Sep. 14-Sept. 20, 2020

Posted at 4:25 PM, Sep 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 21:47:44-04

More than 61,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Colorado since the virus was first detected in March, though state health officials believe there are many more cases that have gone unreported due to lack of testing.

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, Sept. 17

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

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

63,750 cases (+605)
7,347 hospitalized (+20)
63 counties (+0)
813,355 people tested (+8,588)
1,181,829 test encounters (+14,919)
2,009 deaths among cases (+3)
1,913 deaths due to COVID-19 (+2)
691 outbreaks (+7)

The latest hospital data showed 230 COVID-19 patients or patients under investigation, 17 more than Thursday, with 84% of hospitals reporting data over the last 24 hours. Thirteen patients have been discharged or transferred in the last 24 hours.

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospital beds in use as of Sept. 18, 2020

Thursday's 3-day moving positivity rate was 3.13%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

Go here for more COVID-19 data.

3 p.m. | Colorado to start paying $300/week Lost Wages Assistance benefit Friday for those who have certified

Colorado will start paying out the $300 a week Lost Wages Assistance benefit Friday for thousands of unemployed people who have already certified for the program, and even more people should start seeing payments early next week.

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment officials said Friday that they had sent the first payment file for the LWA program to banks Thursday night, which contained certifications for 28,000 people who will start receiving benefits as early as Friday.

The department is paying out the 6 weeks of benefits for people who qualify in two lump sums – meaning that people who are eligible for the added benefits who have certified they are unemployed due to COVID-19 will receive $900 if they are eligible for the first three weeks of the program, which apply to the weeks of July 26 through Aug. 15.

CDLE Deputy Executive Director said that in addition to the 28,000 payments sent to banks Thursday night, another 94,000 as of Friday morning had been certified and would be submitted Friday night.

Those people will likely start seeing the added benefits starting Monday, though exactly when claimants will start seeing the benefits will depend on whether they are using direct deposit or debit cards, and their financial institution, Haavind said.

With the LWA program, people who are eligible for at least $100 a week in regular unemployment benefits qualify if they can certify they are out of work because of COVID-19. For self-employed and gig workers receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, the certification for LWA is already built in to the PUA certification, as both require claimants to be unemployed due to COVID-19.

Colorado can send out $553 million in LWA funds from the federal government for the six weeks of the program – effective from July 26 through Sept. 5.

The department said the first batch of payouts total $23.7 million so far, with more in the first round to be paid out.

The second round of payments of up to $900 for those who are eligible for the last three weeks of the program – weeks ending Aug. 21 through Sept. 5 – will start being sent out on Sept. 25, the department said. The CDLE hopes to have all the payments out to eligible Coloradans by the end of the month.

Click here to read the full story.

1:40 p.m. | Gov. Polis, state officials provide update on COVID-19 response

Gov. Jared Polis and other state officials and lawmakers gave an update from Front Range Community College on the state’s response to COVID-19 and how higher education institutions and community colleges are handling the pandemic thus far.

The governor said that it would be “critical” for CU Boulder students to follow rules from administrators and not be sent home, as he said he believes that would only spread COVID-19 more to other communities.

“They’re going to do the right thing,” Polis said.

Gov. Polis, state officials and lawmakers provide update on COVID-19 response

Noon | DPS extends deadline for enrollment

Denver Public Schools is extending the deadline for middle school and high school students to choose whether they want in-person or virtual learning for the second quarter of the school year. Families now have until the end of the day on Sept. 23 to decide.

DPS plans to return to in-person learning for the second quarter of the school year.

8 a.m. | Colorado's unemployment rate decreased to 6.7% in August

According to a survey of households by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 6.7 percent in August from 7.4 percent in July.

During the same period, the national unemployment rate declined one and eight-tenths of a percentage point to 8.4 percent.

Colorado's labor force increased by 2,500 in August to 3,087,000.

While Colorado’s employment-to-population ratio continues to improve since April — when it was 58.3 percent — it is still well below the February level of 67.7 percent.

The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in August were:

  • Gilpin (10.7%)
  • Huerfano (9.4%)
  • Summit (8.1%)
  • Costilla (7.9%)
  • Denver (7.9%)

County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s August unadjusted rate of 6.6 percent.

Employers in Colorado added 36,900 nonfarm payroll jobs from July to August, for a total of 2,649,600 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments.

Private sector payroll jobs increased by 26,500. In August, government added 10,400 jobs. Some of those are temporary hiring for the 2020 Census.

Since May, Colorado has gained back 178,500 of the 342,300 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April. That translates to a job recovery rate of 52.1 percent, which exceeds the U.S. rate of 47.9 percent.

Thursday, Sept. 16

4 p.m. | COVID-19 numbers for Colorado

Here were the latest COVID-19 numbers for Colorado, as of 4 p.m. Thursday:

63,145 cases (+459)
7,327 hospitalized (+39)
63 counties (+0)
804,767 people tested (+7,274)
1,166,910 test encounters (+13,057)
2,066 deaths among cases (+4)
1,911 deaths due to COVID-19 (+6)
684 outbreaks (+3)

Thursday's hospital data showed 213 beds in use by COVID-19 patients or suspected COVID-19 patients under investigation — 35 fewer than Wednesday, with 85% of facilities reporting data. The data showed 21 patients having been discharged or transferred in the last 24 hours. The state's latest 7-day positivity rate was 2.76%. The state's goal is to remain below 5%.

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospital beds in use as of Sept. 17, 2020

3:26 p.m. | Free COVID-19 testing site set up in Boulder in response to spike in cases

A "significant increase" in the number of Boulder County residents testing positive for the novel coronavirus over the past two weeks has alerted several local agencies of the need to expand testing to the public, which is why Boulder County Public Health, the University of Colorado-Boulder, City of Boulder, and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have partnered to bring free testing to the city.

There are two testing sites now offering free COVID-19 testing in Boulder:

• A drive-thru test site at Gerald Stazio Softball Fields, 2445 Stazio Drive (Take Arapahoe Road (Valmont Road will be closed) to 63rd Street; turn north onto 63rd Street; and follow to Stazio Drive; turn left on Stazio Drive and follow signs for testing.)
• A walk-up test site at the Pleasant Street parking lot, at 1205 Pleasant Street.

Both sites will operate from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 7 days a week.

The walk-up testing site will be available through Sept. 30 and the drive-thru site will be available through Oct. 2, but can be extended depending on case positivity rates, BCPH officials said in a news release.

Anyone interested in being tested is encouraged to visit the testing sites. An appointment is not required, and there is no cost to receive the test. Residents should bring a form of identification to ensure that test results can be accurately recorded.

8:22 a.m. | Gov. Polis announces 1 million masks delivered to teachers

Gov. Jared Polis said the state has provided 1,112,000 medical-grade masks to public and private teachers and faculty this fall.

“I’ve visited schools across Colorado and have heard from teachers, superintendents, and educators about how they believe mask-wearing is important to keep themselves and students safe and to ensure we can overcome the challenges created by this virus together," Polis said. "I also want to extend my thanks to the State Emergency Operations Center and Colorado Department of Education staff members who worked tirelessly to ensure these masks were delivered to our teachers.”

7:45 a.m. | First-time unemployment claims down, still historically high says Labor Department

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment aid fell to 860,000 last week, according to the Department of Labor. That is down about 33,000 from the week before.

The Labor Department also said Thursday that 12.6 million are collecting traditional unemployment benefits, compared with 1.7 million a year ago.

Read more here.

7:30 a.m. | State unemployment claims for week ending Sept. 12

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported that 5,025 regular initial unemployment claims were filed during the week ending Sept. 12. In addition, there were 1,533 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims filed for the same week.

Since mid-March, a total of 553,618 regular unemployment initial claims have been filed. A grand total of 711,760 claims, including federal PUA benefits, were filed.

For the week ending Sept. 5, a combined total of 245,078 continued claims were filed, including 156,511 from regular UI, 62,835 from PUA, and 25,732 from Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

The department also announced it has paid nearly $5 billion in unemployment benefits since March 29.

Wednesday, Sept. 16

9:22 p.m. | New COVID-19 modeling data predicts surge in cases for Colorado if social distancing trends continue

Though the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus remains “relatively low” in Colorado, state health officials warned Wednesday we could see a surge in cases within the next two months if only 65% of the population continues to practice proper social distancing.

The projection was part of new modeling data released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado School of Public Health, which also showed that while a surge in infections will also create a need for more hospital beds in the state, it is unlikely the number of infections will exceed hospital capacity.

Read the full story here.

6:10 p.m. | Colorado opens door for CHSAA, local communities to allow certain outdoor fall sports

Certain outdoor sports like football, field hockey, cheer and dance could be played this fall if the Colorado High School Activities Association and local communities agree to move forward with those plans, Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday afternoon.

The decision comes after weeks of back-and-forth about which sports would be played when and a robust discussion surrounding the football season.

According to a letter sent Wednesday to Rhonda Blanford-Green, the commissioner of CHSAA, by Ann Hause, the director of the Office of Legal and Regulatory Compliance for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, CHSAA will be allowed to give school districts that are in the Protect Our Neighbors, Level 1 or Level 2 phases on the state’s dial system – which as of Wednesday was every county in the state – the option to allow those four sports this fall or this spring.

CHSAA had requested that field hockey rosters be limited to 25 players per team. Up to 50 players would be allowed on a football team, and 28 people could be on a cheer or dance roster, which Hause said had been approved.

The state says that the sports would be allowed if they meet both organized sports guidelines and COVID-19 guidelines for sports.

All participants would have to wear masks when not actively playing or performing; people would have to stay 6 feet apart on the sidelines while not playing; players and coaches would not be able to go into the spectator areas; and everyone would have to wear masks while they are being transported.

School sports teams would also have to follow the same reporting guidelines and outbreak procedures as schools.

The state’s decision says that the four sports can also still be played in the “C” season, as was originally the case when CHSAA released its season schedule. For any community that enters Level 3, the ability to play the sports in the fall would be reconsidered, according to the letter from Hause.

“We have worked closely with CHSAA to approve their request, issue guidelines and assist in creating a process that supports a return to football, field hockey and cheer,” said Governor Jared Polis. “If the CHSAA board decides to add these sports to their fall calendars, it will be up to local school districts, administrators and parents to choose what is right for their communities. The state has approved these requests in order to empower all schools to make the choice that is right for them and their student athletes.”

The CHSAA board will still have to approve the plan to move forward with the outdoor sports in the fall “A” season and could choose not to, though Blanford-Green made the request to the state on Sept. 12.

CHSAA said in a tweet it was reviewing the guidelines and working with the governor’s office.

Click here to read the full story.

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 numbers from Colorado

62,686 cases (+587)
7,288 hospitalized (+26)
63 counties (+0)
797,493 people tested (+6,054)
1,153,853 test encounters (+9,912)
2,002 deaths among cases (+6)
1,905 deaths due to COVID-19 (+0)
681 outbreaks (+11)

The latest hospital data shows 248 hospital beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients – 26 fewer than Tuesday with 23 patients discharged or transferred from hospitals over the past 24 hours and 86% of state hospitals reporting. Tuesday’s 3-day moving average positivity rate was 2.87%. The state’s target is to remain below 5%.

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospital beds in use as of Sept. 16, 2020

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

1:05 p.m. | Regis University quarantine at Residence Village

Regis University is putting a two-week quarantine in place for students at Residence Village that will affect 137 students after the school and the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment found that 57% of cases at the university could be traced to the townhome village.

The university said the quarantine came at the direction of DDPHE and that it has been determined classrooms “are not a source of spread.”

Regis will start conducting campus-wide surveillance testing as well, starting with students at Residence Village and then moving on to others.

The university said that as of Wednesday, no university employees have reported testing positive for the coronavirus and that the results of this week testing would be announced later this week.

Regis had 32 current cases as of Tuesday and the university said its positivity rate is currently 1%, though classes went mostly virtual – except for outside or lab classes – for this week.

The university said the quarantine will mean students’ movements outside Residence Village will be restricted and that letters are being sent to the affected students to detail expectations and the penalties they will face if they do not adhere to the quarantine rules.

10:30 a.m. | DCSD to return elementary students to full-time in-person learning

On Tuesday night, the Douglas County School District (DCSD) Board of Education voted unanimously to bring elementary students back to full-time, in-person learning by a target date of Oct. 19.

This date could change at the board's next meeting on Oct. 6. The district said the rationale for the vote was largely based on DCSD’s decision dashboard metrics.

The remote eLearning model will remain available to elementary school families who want to keep that option.

DCSD said it will implement all health and safety mitigation measures to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Bringing middle school and high school students back to full in-person learning will require more planning, the school district said.

Tuesday, Sept. 15

6:09 p.m. | Boulder Co. Public Health recommends quarantine for CU Boulder students

Boulder County Public Health on Tuesday issued a letter saying it “strongly recommends” all CU Boulder students living in Boulder self-quarantine “immediately” in order to contain the COVID-19 outbreak there.

The county health department said that It has seen 663 new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks – 76% of which were either CU students or associated with CU students. The health department said “the majority” of cases came in students aged 18-29 who live off-campus and who are attending large gatherings without face coverings and proper physical distancing measures.

The students who leave their self-quarantine were asked to wear face coverings at all times.

“Self-quarantine should last for 14 days, continuing until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. This recommendation is not an emergency order; however, more stringent and mandatory restrictions will be imposed if students do not comply and break the transmission cycle,” BCPH Executive Director Jeffrey Zayach wrote in a letter to CU students.

He advised students to stay at their place of residence except for to attend in-person instruction, labs, research or athletic events. They are advised to leave their home for work, child care, to get food, medicine or other supplies that cannot be delivered.

The students were advised they can recreate alone if they wear a face covering at all times and keeps proper distance from others, and people living with 10 or more people are being asked to “make every effort to separate from each other to avoid outbreaks among residents.”

Zayach also told the students in the letter it was “imperative” all students comply with contact tracing and case investigation efforts.

And he said those people already under quarantine and isolation orders will not be permitted to leave their home except for medical care.

CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano said the university was cooperating with BCPH and that the actions of students in coming days would have a major bearing on what comes next.

“The next several days are critical for us to avoid more stringent restrictions on our campus operations,” he said in a statement. “We need more students to do their part and follow public health guidelines at this important moment.”

In addition to the testing the university is already performing, there will be a new and free walk-up testing site launching in Boulder on Wednesday and drive-through site planned. More information can be found here.

Click here to read the full story.

4:49 p.m. | Independence Elementary student tests positive for COVID-19, 5th graders to be quarantined due to possible exposure

Three staff members and one 5th grade class at Independence Elementary School will be quarantined after a student tested positive for COVID-19. The student was last at school on Wed., Sept. 9, according to a letter to parents from the Cherry Creek School District.

In all, district data shows 14 students have tested positive for the new respiratory disease which has led to 415 others being quarantined since students returned to class.

4:47 p.m. | Cherry Creek Schools moving nearly 1,600 kids to remote learning, blames "parties" for outbreak

A total of 1,585 students at Cherry Creek High School will move to remote learning through Sept. 23 after several 12th graders in cohort A tested positive for COVID-19.

In a letter to parents, district officials said the positive cases were tied to students going to parties over the last two weekends and as a result of the outbreak, district officials said, 14 staff members and 146 cohort A students will have to quarantine through Sept. 23. Those students will not be able to participate in sports or other activities. The remaining 1,585 students, who will have to attend school remotely, will be allowed to participate in sports and other activities as they are not quarantined.

All cohort A students will return to in-person learning on Sept. 28.

4 p.m. | Colorado sees spike in COVID-19 cases

The state reported 400 new cases of the novel coronavirus from Tuesday into Wednesday. Here's the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE):

62,099 cases (+400)
7,262 hospitalized (+22)
63 counties (+0)
791,439 people tested (+4,928)
1,143,941 test encounters (+9,275)
1,996 deaths among cases (+6)
1,905 deaths due to COVID-19 (+11)
670 outbreaks (+8)

The latest hospital data shows 548 hospital beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients – 309 more than Monday with 22 patients discharged or transferred from hospitals over the past 24 hours and 78% of state hospitals reporting. Monday’s 3-day moving average positivity rate was 2.93%. The state’s target is to remain below 5%.

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

6:45 a.m. | Contact tracing program shows continued large gatherings at CU Boulder

In an email to all of campus yesterday, CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano urged the community to wear masks, avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing — things that haven't been practiced well across the campus.

The contact tracing program showed that the most common factors in the positive cases on campus are from participation in large gatherings, particularly among a few sororities, fraternities and other multi-student residences on University Hill, DiStefano said.

Residents at four sorority houses are under quarantine.

Of the 308 positive cases confirmed so far, 29% are on-campus residents.

5:20 a.m. | In-person learning returns in the Thompson School District

In-person learning will return to the school district in a staggered fashion beginning Sept. 28.

Recently, Larimer County health officials announced that in coordination with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, local COVID-19 tests are now being sent directly to a laboratory with the capacity to return results within 48 hours of receiving them. The school district said this helped them made the decision to slowly return to in-person learning.

This staggered re-entry will allow the district to start bringing students back into school buildings in a structured manner, while ensuring that it is done in a safe way that helps students and families adjust to the new schedule, the district said.

Monday, Sept. 14

7 p.m. | Roaring Fork Schools closes school due to positive COVID-19 tests

The Roaring Fork School District has closed Basalt Elementary Early Childhood Center until Sept. 28 after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. A third staff member is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, district officials said in a news release.

"Because of this situation, the Basalt Elementary Early Childhood Center will be short-staffed and will temporarily close until September 28 during the 14-day quarantine period."

Early Childhood Director Cindy Gray said the district understands the difficult situation this puts families in, and apologized for the inconvenience.

5:01 p.m. | Colorado bar and tavern group drops lawsuit to stop governor's 'last call' order

The Tavern League, a group representing more than 200 bar and restaurant owners in the state, says it is dropping its lawsuit against Gov. Polis' last call order because "it was too expensive to maintain, especially in light of the devastating economic blow our members have suffered," said the attorney representing the group.

Gov. Polis moved the last call order for alcohol sales from 2 a.m. to 10 p.m., and later to 11 p.m., to curb gatherings that could help propagate the novel coronavirus.

The order is set to expire on Sept. 21, barring an extension.

4:10 p.m. | Swink School District 33 moving to remote learning after 2 positive COVID-19 tests

The Swink School District 33 in Otero County is moving students in grades 7-12 to remote learning after two students tested positive within the past week, according to a message posted on the district's Facebook page.

The district said Otero County Health Department is setting up a drive-thru testing clinic in the parking lot of the Swink High School gym that will run on Tuesday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 1. p.m.

In-person learning will resume on Sept. 28.

4 p.m. | Thornton Fire Dept. conducting free COVID-19 testing Tuesday

The Thornton Fire Department says it will conduct free COVID-19 drive-up testing to anyone 12 years or older tomorrow (Tuesday, Sept. 1) from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. at 1330 E. 126th Ave. The testing is open to anyone regardless of symptoms. You are encouraged to sign up at for a quicker check-in. If you need help with registration, you are asked to call 303-538-7420.

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 numbers from Colorado

61,699 cases (+375)
7,240 hospitalized (+13)
63 counties (+0)
786,511 people tested (+6,206)
1,134,666 test encounters (+10,485)
1,990 deaths among cases (+2)
1,894 deaths due to COVID-19 (+5)
662 outbreaks (+2)

The latest hospital data shows 239 hospital beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients – 11 more than Sunday with 22 patients discharged or transferred from hospitals over the past 24 hours and 78% of state hospitals reporting. Sunday’s 3-day moving average positivity rate was 2.756%. The state’s target is to remain below 5%.

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

Click here for the coronavirus blog from Sept.7-Sept.13, 2020.