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Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from May 21, 2020

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Posted at 5:20 AM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 07:37:19-04

NOTE: This is the live blog from Thursday, May 21, 2020. Click here to see the live blog from Friday, May 22, 2020.

As of data released Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado has seen 22,797 positive cases of the novel coronavirus. Of those, 3,990 people have been hospitalized.

There have been 1,299 deaths among those positive cases, according to CDHPE. Of those, 1,001 deaths were confirmed to be from COVID-19.

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:

Thursday, May 20

9:15 p.m. | USPS facility that handles mail for all of Colorado ordered to close due to COVID-19 outbreak

A U.S. Postal Service facility that handles mail for all of Colorado and Wyoming was ordered to close Thursday by the City of Denver due to an outbreak of the novel coronavirus inside its premises.

In response, a spokesperson argued that shutting down the distribution center “has the potential to impact stimulus checks, prescription medications, personal correspondence, and vital goods delivered” to a combined population of 6.5 million people.

Read the full story here.

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 case data in Colorado

Here are the latest figures reported by the state from COVID-19. Please note: The (+) denotes the increase of cases from the previous day.

23,191 cases (+394)
4,037 hospitalized (+47)
60 counties (+0)
139,937 people tested (+4,326)
1,310 deaths among cases (+11)
1,062 deaths due to COVID-19 (+61)
256 outbreaks (+7)

The latest hospital data from the CDPHE shows 613 hospital beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients — 13 fewer beds than reported on Wednesday.

3:40 p.m. | Free, drive-up COVID-19 testing facility to open at Pepsi Center, test 500 symptomatic people a day

The city of Denver will open a new free, drive-up testing site at the Pepsi Center Friday that will test 500 people a day to start with but could test up to 1,000 on a daily basis, Mayor Michael Hancock announced Thursday alongside Gov. Jared Polis.

The tests will be for anyone who believes they have symptoms of COVID-19, and both Hancock and Polis said the tests would be “quick, easy and free.”

The testing site will operate seven days a week, except for on holidays, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

People are being asked to register on Denver’s website for drive-up testing. They will have to check boxes on a series of yes or no questions about whether they are displaying particular symptoms of COVID-19, and if they have displayed one or more of the symptoms over the past week, will be eligible for a free test without a doctor’s note.

After that, the officials said, people can come by the Pepsi Center site, which is in the parking lot on the west side of the facility, at any time between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to be tested.

The city is asking people to bring a photo ID of any sort or a document verifying their name to identify people who have been tested more than once, the city said. Minors must be registered by their parents.

People will administer the swab themselves, using what officials described as a Q-tip like swab, which is rubbed in the nose and then handed to a gloved site worker to bottle and send to LabCorp for processing. Hancock said the test results should be available on LabCorp’s website within 3 days. People unable to self-administer the test due to a disability will receive help from staff.

Click here to read the full story.

3 p.m. | 3 long-term care facilities cited

Three long-term care facilities have been cited by the city of Denver over alleged violations related to COVID-19.

Operators for The Carillon at Belleview Station, The Argyle and Watermark at Harvard Square were issued notices of violations.

At The Carillon, city inspectors found several violations, including, failure to close all communal areas and failure to isolate all residents with probably or confirmed COVID-19 illness.

In one instance, the inspector saw three residents — two with confirmed COVID-19 cases and one being monitored for symptoms — outside of their rooms and walking through the halls of the memory care unit.

At Harvard Square, inspectors found staff were improperly re-using personal protective equipment and moving COVID-positive patients to a unit with residents who were COVID-negative, the citations said.

Staff at The Argyle were ordered to ensure social distancing and train staff on the proper use of personal protective equipment.

Go here to read the full story about the citations.

2:31 p.m. | RTD organizará una reunión telefónica en español para discutir cambios de servicio debido al Covid-19

RTD, la agencia de transporte publico en Denver, organizará una reunión telefónica para Hispanohablantes este jueves, 21 de mayo a las 18:00 horas, en dónde se discutirán cambios al servicio de transporte publico debido al Covid-19, entre otras cosas.

Para participar en la reunión, llame al 855-543-2425 or visite www.RTD-Denver.com/TownHall. Se le recomienda registrarse antes de la junta para poder participar.

12:50 p.m. | Public cautious about using RTD

A Regional Transportation District survey showed that people are still cautious about public activities, including riding the RTD light rail and buses.

“The results align with those emerging in surveys of other industries. During this uncertain time, people naturally want to feel as safe as possible, and they want to know that RTD is doing all we can on their behalf,” interim RTD General Manager and CEO Paul Ballard said in a news release.

Riding the RTD was the least-safe activity selected by respondents, compared to grocery shopping, visiting a pharmacy or visiting friends and family.

The RTD is still providing about 110,000 trips each weekday, down from about 350,000 per day last year.

12:30 p.m. | TSA changes this summer

The Transportation Security Administration is implementing changes to its security screening process at airports this summer, with some of the new procedures already in place.

Instead of handing their boarding pass to a TSA officer at security, travelers will now place their boarding pass — either paper or electronic — on the boarding pass reader. The officer will then inspect the boarding pass without touching it.

Carry-on food items should be stored in a clear plastic bag and placed in a separate bin, reducing the likelihood that an officer will have open a carry-on bag if the food triggers an alarm.

Travelers are encouraged to wear face protections at the security checkpoints. All TSA officers are wearing masks and gloves, and they'll change gloves after patdowns.

12:05 p.m. | Testing for asymptomatic individuals at nursing homes, long-term care facilities

Scientists at Colorado State University will conduct COVID19 testing for employees and residents at up to 30 nursing facilities across the state in an effort to identify asymptomatic individuals. Here's how it will work.

Based on a CSU pilot project from earlier this year, researchers found that of the 454 nursing home workers who were tested for COVID-19 in March and April, 60 individuals tested positive but did not show any symptoms.

As part of this new, upcoming project, CSU will receive $4.2 million, a majority of which will go to testing asymptomatic workers using nasopharyngeal swabs, according to CSU.

Click here to read more.

11:28 a.m. | Nearly 500K Coloradans filed for unemployment since late March, but initial claims continue to fall

Nearly half a million Coloradans filed initial unemployment claims over the past nine weeks, though regular initial claims fillings dropped last week in the state for the fifth week in a row as the full state moved to the safer-at-home phase and many businesses statewide reopened.

Another 17,825 Coloradans filed regular initial claims last week and another 7,633 self-employed or gig-worker Coloradans filed federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims last week, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The number of regular initial claims fell again week-over-week – down from 22,483 for the week ending May 9.

In total over the past nine weeks, a combined 476,613 initial claims have been filed between the regular and federal unemployment programs – 405,800 of which were regular initial claims, the CDLE said.

Since the week ending April 4, Colorado has paid $521.6 million out of its unemployment insurance trust fund, which Legislative Council Staff and the state are forecasting will be insolvent in June or July.

The CDLE will release its monthly employment report detailing the April unemployment rate and other details Friday morning. In February, there were about 3.1 million adult Coloradans who were employment-eligible.

Colorado’s unemployment rate rose to 4.5% in March at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak after stay-at-home orders went into effect statewide in the last week of the month.

10:30 a.m. | GABF goes virtual for 2020 event

The Great American Beer Festival in Denver is moving online this fall, event officials announced Thursday.

The festival will also be pushed back from Sept. 24-26 to Oct. 16-17, according to the Brewers Association in Boulder.

The event is typically held at the Colorado Convention Center, but the COVID-19 crisis — and the convention center currently being on standby as an alternative care facility for COVID-19 patients — pushed the event online.

Read the full story about the festival going virtual for 2020.

8:40 a.m. | Breckenridge will not open for late spring skiing

According to Vail Resorts, Breckenridge will not reopen for late spring skiing this season.

"While it’s possible that certain local restrictions might be lifted for ski resorts in June, the more we looked at it, the more we did not think it was the right timing to reopen," the press release reads. "We know there would be tremendous enthusiasm to get back on snow one last time. But we also know that enthusiasm would carry its own impacts, on us and on others – something we think will be more manageable for everybody in July, at which point we want those resorts fully focused on their new approach to summer operations."

8:24 a.m. | COVID-19 testing sites to open Friday in Aurora and Westminster

Two new drive-thru testing sites will open along the Front Range on Friday: the Walmart parking lot at 14000 E. Exposition Ave. in Aurora, and the Walmart parking lot at 7155 Sheridan Blvd. in Westminster.

Both sites are supported by Walmart, eTrueNorth and state and local officials. Anybody who meets CDC, state and local guidelines on who should be tested is welcome.

If you're interested in getting tested, visit www.DoINeedaCovid19test.com. There, you can see if they're eligible and if so, you can make an appointment.

Ryan Irsik, Walmart public affairs director for Colorado, said Walmart is part of the community and they are proud to offer this support.

“We are grateful to our associates who keep our stores running, our pharmacists who support these testing sites, and to eTrueNorth and local officials as we work together to open the site and help our community," he said.

Testing at those two locations begins Friday and will open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., weather permitting. Sites are closed on Memorial Day. For questions, call 800-635-8611.

7:50 a.m. | Hanging Lake Trail to open June 1 with restrictions

Hanging Lake Trail, a popular hiking trail in Glenwood Canyon, will reopen to visitors on June 1.

Because the trail is steep and narrow, a special management plan was needed to allow for hikers to safely pass each other. The temporary management plan will limit the maximum number of visitors to 128 people per day. Previously, 615 visitors were allowed per day.

Eight hiking group slots — with a max of 16 people — will be spaced throughout the day. Hikers are asked to follow six-foot social distancing guidelines. Large groups of families or friends will need to split up and not exceed a group size of 10 hikers. There are designated passing zones along the trail.

Visitors can purchase permits online here for $12 per person.

7:30 a.m. | State unemployment numbers released for week of May 10-16

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced this morning that there were 17,825 initial regular unemployment claims filed the week ending May 16. The prior week saw 22,483 claims.

This is the fifth week in a row of gradual declines in regular unemployment claims.

There were also 7,633 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance initial unemployment claims filed May 10-16.

Over the past nine weeks, a total of 405,800 regular unemployment initial claims were filed. The grand total is 476,613 claims, including federal PUA benefits.

The CDLE will release its monthly employment numbers for April on Friday.

7:10 a.m. | Lakewood closes pools, cancels events for summer

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Lakewood’s Community Resources Department and the city said it cannot provide in-person services, which has affected budget and staffing.

Due to public health orders and consideration of the health and safety of residents and employees, all community events are canceled for the summer.

Those events include:
-Big Boom Bash on July 4
-Rockin’ Block Party
-Sounds Exciting! Summer Concert Series

All summer programs and camps have been canceled. Outdoor pools and splash parks are closed for the summer. Arts, culture and recreation facilities are also closed until further notice.

Camping at Bear Creek Lake Park will be allowed beginning June 1 at noon.

6:40 a.m. | New unemployment numbers released from Department of Labor

According to new figures released this morning by the Department of Labor, 2.4 million people filed initial claims for unemployment during the week ending May 16. That brings a nine-week total — dating back to when states began closing non-essential businesses amid the pandemic — to 38 million initial claims for unemployment.

The weekly figure remains historically high. Prior to the pandemic, the Department of Labor had never recorded more than one million initial claims for unemployment in a single week. Click here to read more.

5 a.m. | Happening today: Bells at noon

Today at noon, you may hear bells ringing around Colorado. It's part of a worldwide collaboration of carillonneurs, who will each play a song called "Healing Bells," specifically written about the coronavirus pandemic. Carillonneurs play the carillon, which is a set of fixed chromatically tuned bells.

Musician Carol Jickling Lens plays the carillon that rings the 65 bells in the bell tower on the University of Denver campus. You can read her story here.

5 a.m. | Happening today: Eagle County officials answer questions about moving to new public health order

Eagle County is anticipating on moving to a new public health order on May 25, pending approval from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. On Thursday at 2 p.m., officials from the Eagle County Board of Commissioners, Eagle County Public Health and Environment and Eagle County Emergency Management will be available to take questions from the media.

The news conference will be live streamed at www.ecgtv.com and at www.Facebook.com/EagleCounty.

Click here for the live blog from Wednesday, May 20.