NOTE: This is the live blog from April 14. Click here for the live blog for Wednesday, April 15.
The number of positive novel coronavirus cases in Denver is starting to level off, but Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment stressed that residents need to continue social distancing.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said this is not the time to let up just because the city sees a sliver of daylight.
"The reality is: This is the time to stay home," Hancock said. "My hope is that people don't let up but that they lean even harder and become more serious about staying home."
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.
Tuesday, April 14
Vice President Mike Pence will fly to Colorado Springs Saturday to deliver his commencement speech to the U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2020, after all. The VP was originally set to deliver his remarks via video message as the nation deals with the coronavirus pandemic.
The graduation ceremony will be held on the USAFA campus Terrazzo at 11 a.m. and the ceremony is expected to last approximately 30 minutes. Cadets will be strictly adhering to social distancing guidelines for the ceremony, marching 6 feet apart and sitting 8 feet apart during the event, officials said in a previous news release. The Air Force Thunderbirds will conduct a flyover of the ceremony, but will not perform their traditional aerobatics demonstration at the conclusion of the ceremony.
6:37 p.m. | Coroner confirms El Paso County deputy died from COVID-19
The El Paso County Coroner confirmed Tuesday that COVID-19 was the cause of the April 1 death of a 41-year-old El Paso County deputy.
Deputy Jeff Hopkins died as a result of respiratory arrest due to COVID-19, the coroner’s office reported.
Hopkins was most recently an intake and release deputy at the county jail, where a medical investigation determined the deputy most likely contracted the virus through contact with symptomatic sheriff employees.
Sheriff Bill Elder said he believed Hopkins had symptoms for about 7-10 days before his death on April 1.
Hopkins had worked for the sheriff’s office since 2001 and leaves behind his wife, Wendy
6:31 p.m. | Third JBS employee dies from COVID-19
A third employee at the JBS meatpacking facility in Greeley has died from COVID-19, according to Kim Cordova, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 union.
Cordova identified the third victim as 69-year-old Tibursio Rivera Lopez. The victim’s wife also works at the plant, Cordova said.
There have been dozens of positive COVID-19 cases at the JBS plant, which is Weld County’s largest employer with more than 6,000 workers.
The Greeley meatpacking plant was shut down for two weeks while crews clean the facility and employees are tested for the virus.
6:27 p.m. | 71-year-old woman released from hospital after COVID-19 fight
A 71-year-old COVID-19 patient was greeted with cheers and applause as she left North Colorado Medical Center Monday. Jocie Rocha, of Brush, was discharged from the Greeley hospital after being treated for the infectious disease.
Rocha was moved via ambulance to a rehabilitation hospital closer to her Brush home, according to her son, Jess Ponce. Ponce said his mother has been hospitalized since March 18 and spent 8-10 days on a ventilator.
Colorado Medical Center has discharged a total of 100 patients after being treated for COVID-19, the hospital said in a statement.
Three more sites have been leased by the Colorado Unified Command Group (UCG) to serve as alternative care facilities during the COVID-19 outbreak in the state to protect hospital bed space for critical care patients.
The state says Tier 2.5 facilities are medical facilities that are not freestanding surgical centers, emergency departments or critical access hospitals.
The new facilities leased by the UCG are St. Anthony’s North in Westminster; St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo; and Western Slope Memory Care in Grand Junction.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) said that as of Monday, 28,469 Paycheck Protection Program loans had been approved for qualifying businesses in the state of Colorado for a total of $5,830,781,842.
Besty Markey, the executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, has previously said that in Colorado alone, about 600,000 businesses are eligible to apply.
4:30 p.m. | Secretary of State Gena Griswold to host Colorado election town hall
Secretary of State Gena Griswold will host a virtual town hall aon Thursday, April 16 at 11 a.m. to discuss engagement in elections and the impact of COVID-19 on the electoral process.
4:15 p.m. | Polis signs new executive orders
Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday signed two executive orders related to the state's COVID-19 response.
One order provides support for emergency child care for essential workers and temporarily suspends certain statutes, allowing schools to focus on delivering instruction and student services. Read the full order here. The second order extends a previous order for 30 days limiting in-person contact for 2020 elections and the secretary of state's operations. Read the full order here.
4 p.m. | More than 1,500 hospitalized as positive COVID-19 cases rise to nearly 8,000
The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus in the state has grown to 7,941 cases, an uptick of 250 cases from Monday, according to the latest numbers provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
A total of 1,556 people have been hospitalized, 63 more than reported a day prior, and 39,580 people have been tested (an additional 838 more than reported Monday). The state also reported 329 deaths Tuesday, 21 more than reported a day prior. A total of 78 outbreaks have been reported at residential and non-hospital healthcare facilities — 6 more outbreaks than reported on Monday by the CDPHE.
State health and government officials believe there could be between 12,000 and 33,000 cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, but are prioritizing testing for those who are most at-risk.
Elizabeth Carlton, an assistant professor at the Colorado School of Public Health and a researcher on the state’s modeling team, agreed that data suggests “things may be slowing down” and that public health officials were waiting to see whether those trends hold in coming days. She said there is strong evidence social distancing measures are having a positive effect.
“We’re not entirely certain what’s going to happen in the coming days, but I think the best guess is that in the next few days or weeks, we won’t hit capacity, which would be very good news,” she said.
Carlton said that if social distancing measures have reached 80% less interaction between people than normal, it’s possible that the first peak has already been reached – an outcome she said was the “best-case scenario.” But she said that if hospitalizations and deaths start to decline in day-over-day numbers with the same number of cases being tested, that would be the main indicator.
“We’re hopeful that’s what’s happening right now – that we’re seeing this very early peak and that the peak is not so severe,” Carlton said.
3:37 p.m. | Pueblo's D70 School District suspends lunch program due to possible COVID-19 exposure
Officials with Pueblo District 70 say they will suspend their emergency school lunch program immediately due to possible COVID-19 exposure to a food service worker.
"While a staff member is being tested and treated for possible exposure, we have taken precautionary measures to immediately close all 5 of our lunch delivery services out of an abundance of caution for a deep cleaning using CDC-recommended guidelines,” said District 70 Director of Student Services Greg Keasling. “We are recommending our food service workers self-isolate by staying home for 2 weeks to limit any further possible exposure to our other staff or the public.”
Anyone in Pueblo County who needs food assistance is being reminded there are many other options, which you can find by clicking here.
3:19 p.m. | Eagle County allocates additional $500,000 in financial assistance due to COVID-19
The Eagle County Board of Commissioners says it has allocated an additional $500,000 in economic assistance for residents experiencing economic hardship due to the novel coronavirus pandemic in Colorado. The funds are an addition to the $400,000 the board approved in March, bringing the total to $900,000 - nearly $1,000,000 in economic assistance to county residents.
A Larimer Street icon will be shutting its doors after 37 years in business. The Market at 1445 Larimer St. will be closing for good, the owner Mark Greenberg announced Tuesday. The Market’s closure will impact 35 employees, which more than 50% of whom have worked at the deli and bistro for over eight years, according to a news release. The decision to close the business was not easy and was in the works for quite some time — “but the pandemic certainly sped up the timing,” Greenberg said in the release.
2:46 p.m. | Pitkin County modifying Incident Command trailer to mobile lab for COVID-19 testing
Pitkin County is modifying its Incident Command trailer to make it a mobile lab for testing people for the novel coronavirus, officials said Tuesday afternoon.
Gabe Muething, who is part of the unified command team of the Pitkin County incident management team, said in a news release there are still a few steps to be sorted out before testing will begin, but added that he hopes the team can have the process designed and tested by the end of the week.
Muething said he's turning the trailer into a mobile testing lab as he "understood that there is a desire for testing" from the community.
2:10 p.m. | Boulder to furlough 737 city employees
The City of Boulder will furlough 737 employees beginning April 20 — 175 standard employees and 562 seasonal employees. The furlough will last from April 20 through June 28. The city will still pay for eligible employees' health insurance. The city, which anticipates lost revenue of at least $28 million during the COVID-19 crisis, will decide by June 1 whether to bring staff back, extend the furlough or lay off employees.
“Like many of our local companies, the city is facing very serious financial impacts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” City Manager Jane Brautigam said in a news release. “We are significantly reducing non-personnel expenses and canceling or delaying capital improvement projects, but the reality is that the financial impact requires immediate furloughs and may require future layoffs. We are assessing the situation every day; my heart goes out to our employees who have dedicated their service to this community.
In an interview with Denver7, a spokesperson for the City of Boulder said 542 of the 737 employees are seasonal/summer employees, adding the furlough does not affect public safety employees such as police officers and firefighters. The spokesperson said the city will fund 100% of of their health benefits and will meet frequently to see if they can stop the furlough sooner than the 10 week time frame they announced.
1:40 p.m. | Advocates sue for release of ICE detainees
Immigrant advocates have sued for the release of 14 detainees being held at the Immigration Customs and Enforcement facility in Aurora, saying the spread of COVID-19 poses a serious risk to their health.
The suit argued that the 14 detainees have "serious medical vulnerabilities," including some with HIV, that make them susceptible to the effects of COVID-19.
ICE declined to comment on the suit since the case is ongoing litigation.
Colorado is seeing a slower rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and possibly a plateau, state public health officials said Tuesday, though they said the next few weeks would be key in determining what steps have to be taken next before any physical distancing measures are lifted or any ramp-up planning is rolled back.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said that the next couple of days should show state officials whether the stay-at-home order – which went into effect March 26 across the state – has led to enough reduction in person-to-person contact to start to cause the number of reported new cases each day to decrease.
“We’re just really starting to observe the impact of the stay-at-home order in the case count today and the next couple of days,” Herlihy said.
9:10 a.m. | UCHealth reports number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19
UCHealth said more than 370 patients who were hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered enough to be discharged. About 250 people are continuing to be treated in the hospital. Of those who have been discharged, about 50 were in UCHealth’s southern Colorado hospitals, about 200 were in metro Denver area hospitals and 120 were in northern Colorado hospitals.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, UCHealth has tested more than10,5000 people and recently expanded testing for first responders and other health care workers.
8:15 a.m. | New support for family-owned businesses in West Denver
The Denver Streets Partnership announced this morning that restaurant owners in the Westwood and South Federal neighborhoods can now let the community know they are open for business through two new online platforms: Westwoodfood.com, which highlights dishes from nine local Latin restaurants, and LittleSaigonDenver.com, which provides access to the neighborhood's Asian offerings.
Thanks to a collaboration between the Denver Streets Partnership and BuCu West, the menus and contact information for each of those restaurants are now available online.
5:30 a.m. | Happening today: El Paso County Public Health update commissioners, city council
El Paso County Public Health Director Susan Wheelan and acting Deputy Medical Director Dr. Leon Kelly will update the county commissioners and Colorado Springs City Council about COVID-19's impact on the county and the current response. This is set for 9 a.m. today. You can watch it on the county's Facebook page here.
5:15 a.m. | State warns about WIC and SNAP scam alert
The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is warning SNAP recipients about potential scammers using the COVID-19 situation to steal personal information. CDHS said it will never ask for your social security number, bank number or SNAP EBT card or PIN over email. CDHS said scammers are targeting those most vulnerable.
Click here for the live blog from Monday, April 13, 2020.