NOTE: This is the live blog from Wednesday, April 29. Click here for the live blog from Thursday, April 30.
Of the 67,094 people who have been tested for the novel coronavirus in Colorado, about 14,300 tested positive, according to data released Tuesday afternoon by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Of those, about 2,500 people have been hospitalized.
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.
Wednesday, April 29
6:18 p.m. | Mesa County granted variance to Colorado's 'safer at home' order
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has given Mesa County the green light to implement a slightly modified plan from the statewide safer at home guidelines. The reprieve will allow three major sectors like gyms, restaurants and places of worship to begin soon operating at a limited capacity if they choose to do so.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released Wednesday updated COVID-19 outbreak data, revealing the state's biggest outbreaks are at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley and the Sterling Correctional Facility. Nursing facilities continue to be the worst affected by the virus, with the highest death toll among the facilities on the list.
5:16 p.m. | Summit Co. also moving to mask culture
Summit County will also require people to wear cloth face masks or coverings whenever they are inside buildings open to the public and whenever they are outdoors and cannot maintain 6 feet of separation between people. Non-medical face coverings are encouraged unless a medical-grade mask is medically necessary, the county’s public health order said.
5:08 p.m. | Dept. of Agriculture statement on reports of meat shortage
Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg issued a statement Wednesday in response to reports about a possible meat shortage in Colorado due to COVID-19.
“Colorado’s food supply is strong,” she said. “The pandemic has caused farmers, ranchers and processors to move food that once went to restaurants and food service to where it’s needed most: grocery stores. The empty shelves we are seeing do not represent a food shortage, but are a result of the challenges of keeping inventory stocking in pace with increased sales. Similarly, the temporary closures or reduced operations at meat processing facilities are to address worker health and safety. We do not anticipate severe beef shortages or significant price increases. Colorado is a top beef cattle producer in the nation and currently has millions of pounds of meat in cold storage facilities.”
Colorado expects to significantly ramp up its testing capabilities to be able to perform around 8,500 tests per day by the end of May as more testing supplies are received and as community-based testing increases at the county level statewide, Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday.
The governor also announced the state had hired 25 more epidemiologists in the past two weeks, bringing the total to 56, who will work to implement a contact tracing program in conjunction with a digital symptom reporter and tracker businesses and health officials will use to more-quickly identify possible outbreaks.
“We’re building this car as we’re driving,” Polis said in regard to the testing build-up.
4 p.m. | Latest coronavirus numbers from the CDPHE
The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus in the state has grown to 14,758 cases, an uptick of 442 cases from Tuesday, according to the latest numbers provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
A total of 2,621 people have been hospitalized, 50 more than reported a day prior, and 69,449 people have been tested (an additional 2,355 more than reported Tuesday). The state also reported 766 deaths Wednesday, 30 more than reported a day prior. A total of 157 outbreaks have been reported at residential and non-hospital healthcare facilities — 8 more outbreaks than reported on Tuesday by the CDPHE.
The latest hospital data also shows 964 hospital beds are currently in use - 30 fewer than reported on Tuesday. The state also reports 426 of the state's 1,085 critical care ventilators are in use.
New epidemiological modeling predicts that between 65,000 to 75,000 people have COVID-19 throughout the state, but state and health officials are prioritizing testing for those who are most at-risk.
3:47 p.m. | COVID-19 Town Hall on racial disparities and immigrant communities tonight
Rep. Jonathan Singer is inviting the community to join him for the second of his virtual town hall series focused on resources and facts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this town hall, Rep. Singer will be joined by co-host Rep. Leslie Herod, as well as ACLU Policy Director Denise Maes, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition’s Political Manager Raquel Lane-Arellano, and Colorado People’s Alliance’s Immigrant Justice Organizer Feben Enkuselasse.
The town hall will focus on the impact of COVID-19 on racial minorities and immigrant communities in Colorado, and there will also be time for the community to ask questions.
You can join the town hall by clicking here. The town hall will take place frmo 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
3:33 p.m. | Q&A with Bennet, Mayor Hancock, and other elected officials
Reps. Alex Valdez and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez invite the community to join them, Sen. Julie Gonzales, and local elected officials representing North and West Denver from city council, RTD, and DPS school board for a Q&A style virtual town hall tomorrow starting at 4 p.m. They’ll also be joined by Sen. Michael Bennett and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
The virtual Q&A session will be an opportunity for the community to ask questions and get the latest information about Denver’s stay-at-home orders and the city’s response to COVID-19. Simultaneous translation into Spanish and sign language interpretation will be available.
The Q&A will be viewable on Facebook live. Callers call dial in at 253-215-8782, Meeting ID: 892 6317 1120# (for English);
3:30 p.m. | Virtual Town Hall with Congressman Neguse, Rep. Cutter
Rep. Lisa Cutter and Congressman Joe Neguse will hold a virtual town hall and the want to hear from the community as they provide updates on the state and federal response to COVID-19 and then look forward to addressing community member’s questions.
The Town Hall is frmo 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and will take place via Zoom.
3:14 p.m. | 27J Schools postpones opening of its newest school to 2021
The Superintendent of the 27J School District in Brighton says he has decided to postpone the opening of its newest schoool, Elaine Padilla Elementary, until August 2021.
In a statement, the district said the decision was based on lower than expected enrollment numbers for the previously scheduled August 2020 opening, combined with impending funding cuts due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
3:13 p.m. | Five Points Jazz Festival going virtual this year amid coronavirus outbreak
Denver's Five Points Jazz Festival will be going virtual this year to further mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus in the city, an official with Denver Arts & Venues announced Friday afternoon.
You'll be able to watch or listen to this year's festival on May 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Rocky Mountain PBS as well as Facebook live. KUVO Jazz will air the show in its entirety from 8 p.m. too 10 p.m.
The free festival takes place the third Saturday of May every year and celebrates the history of Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. More info here.
The Rockies will have to wait one more year before watching a former player get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Hall on Wednesday announced its July induction ceremony will be cancelled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year's inductees, including former Rockie Larry Walker, will be inducted at the 2021 ceremony. Walker in January was the first former Colorado player to be voted into the Hall of Fame.
“I fully understand and agree with the Board’s decision,” Walker said in a press release. “It is most important to do the right thing for everybody involved, and that means not putting any participants in jeopardy, whether Hall of Famers or visitors. I realize how serious this situation has become and how many lives have been lost.”
2 p.m. | Testing to ramp up to 8,500 per day over May, Polis says
Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday said the state plans to be processing 8,500 COVID-19 tests per day by the end of May, up from about 3,000 tests currently. The state plans to test about 5,000 people by early May and increase the capacity over the course of the month.
The state lab can process up to 10,000 tests per day — a longterm goal of officials — but the state is still constrained by the number of test kits available and also by the personal protection equipment and staff needed to conduct the tests.
As of Wednesday, the state had about 15,000 test swabs, 20,000 extraction reagents for the test, and about 100,000 detection reagents for the test. By the end of May, the state plans to up those numbers to 195,000 across the board.
Another key for Colorado over the next month will be increasing contact tracing. Polis on Wednesday said state has increased its number of epidemiologists from 21 to 56 as they work to expand contact tracing.
Colorado’s state lab has sent out supplies to build up 42 community testing sites that will be operated by local public health agencies or community health care providers as it works to bring community testing to all of the state’s 64 counties.
The state says its testing plan aims to centralize screening criteria, ensure efficient operations at testing sites and provide more efficient turnaround times for test results. The UCC sent a “community testing playbook” to local health agencies to outline they centralized plan for standing up the sites.
Click here to read the full story.
After announcing a COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Denver, King Soopers announced Wednesday it is continuing to partner with the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center to open and operate a second site, this time in Boulder.
The free testing site will be on the CU Boulder campus, CU Space Sciences Building, 3665 Discovery Drive, and will open Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The CU Boulder site is estimated to have capacity for 250 vehicles per day.
Law enforcement officers and first responders from the Douglas County community gathered at Parker Adventist Hospital Wednesday morning to thank healthcare workers for their work in the fight against COVID-19.
Using emergency vehicles and police cruisers, members of the Parker Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, and South Metro Fire and Rescue turned on their emergency lights and drove around the hospital to show their gratitude.
Click here to read more.
Thursday marks the final day to sign up for health insurance through Colorado’s emergency special enrollment period. Coverage begins May 1 for those who enrolled after April 3.
According to Connect for Health Colorado, anybody who doesn’t currently have health insurance, recently lost it or will lose it soon qualifies to sign up in this period.
Click here for more information on how to sign up.
11:33 a.m. | 2 residents die at veterans living center in Aurora
Two residents at the Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons have died of COVID-19 in an outbreak at the state-run facility, and seven other residents and seven staff members have also tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The Colorado Department of Human Services said it has asked the Colorado National Guard to test all residents and staff at the facility Wednesday. The CDHS says it will work on further plans with CDPHE once results come back.
The CDHS says it is prepared to bring in extra staff in the event more staffers test positive. The facility contains 180 beds and serves veterans and their families.
“We have been keeping staff and family members informed about the situation,” CDHS said.
11:15 a.m. | Members of Congress ask for meat supply chain action
Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, along with Reps. Scott Tipton and Ken Buck, wrote to the secretary of the USDA and the administrator of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service Wednesday calling for them to allow more meat and poultry producers direct access to the commercial meat market as food safety inspectors and workers at meatpacking plants contract the virus.
“According to the USDA’s Cold Storage report, which indicates meat and poultry freezer stocks remain stable, it is clear supply is not the problem,” the congressmen wrote. “Rather, large processing plant closures across the nation are slowing meat slaughter and poultry processing, creating challenges for both consumers and producers.”
There are outbreaks in at least four meatpacking plants in Colorado, where at least six workers have died at JBS in Weld County and Cargill in Morgan County.
9:20 a.m. | Gov. Polis update scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is expected to provide an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and on testing in an announcement scheduled for 1:30 p.m. We will carry the news conference live.
9:11 a.m. | Cherry Creek Arts Festival scheduled
CherryArts has canceled its 2020 Cherry Creek Arts Festival scheduled for July 3, 4 and 5.
7:40 a.m. | CPW says state park campgrounds and facilities will remain closed through May 4
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the state park campgrounds and facilities will remain closed through May 4, and possibly beyond.
According to CPW, anybody with a reservation before and through May 4 will get a full refund. If your reservation starts before May 4 and extends beyond it, the reservation has been changed to start May 5. Click here for more information.
5 a.m. | Happening today: Colorado state legislators to preview plans for COVID-19 consumer protection agenda
At 1 p.m. today, the Colorado Consumer Protection Coalition will host a virtual press conference to preview plans for a COVID-19 consumer protection agenda once the legislature reopens on May 18. During this time, legislators will discuss upcoming bills aimed at protecting workers and families. Sen. Brittany Petterson, Rep. Mike Weissman, Leanne Wheeler (veteran and community advocate), Rosemary Lytle (president of the NAACP Colorado-Wyoming-Montana State Conference) and a New Era Colorado representative will all be present. To register to watch this press conference, click here.
Click here for the live blog from Tuesday, April 28, 2020.