NOTE: This is the live blog from Thursday, May 28. Click here for updates from Friday, May 29.
As the number of Coloradans who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus inches closer to 25,000, data on deaths connected to the virus continues to rise as well. According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 1,392 people have died after testing positive for the virus and of those, 1,135 deaths were directly due to 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.
Thursday, May 28
President Trump said Thursday that he would extend the deployment of the National Guard, which is helping in COVID-19 efforts in Colorado and around the country, into August following bipartisan pressure from Colorado’s governor and members of Congress, and from lawmakers across the country.
“The men and women of the National Guard have been doing a great job fighting the CoronaVirus. This week, I will extend their Title 32 orders through mid-August, so they can continue to help States succeed in their response and recovery efforts,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
The Trump administration has not yet publicly released the details about the extension of Title 32, which it had been set to terminate on June 24, a day before many of the 40,000 National Guard members who are currently deployed were to qualify for full retirement, education and other benefits.
Gov. Jared Polis said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that he was still awaiting the formal announcement from the federal administration but welcomed the news, saying it is “the right thing to do.”
“It would have been deeply unfair to the National Guard’s men and women who left their day jobs to serve us all if they had been denied benefits,” Polis said.
The Colorado National Guard has had hundreds of members supporting the state’s response, particularly in building up community testing sites and training civilians, providing logistical support for supply distribution, planning for the build-up of Emergency Operations Centers and supporting extra shelters for people experiencing homelessness. The National Guard has received widespread praise from state officials for its support.
The end date has been on the radars of Colorado officials for weeks. On April 29, the full Colorado congressional delegation sent a letter to President Trump calling for an extension of Title 32 through the end of the year, with monthly assessments, in support of Gov. Polis.
In a news conference on May 20, Gov. Polis praised National Guard members for their response – the largest deployment since Hurricane Katrina – and said that while he was pleased to see Title 32 extended to June 24, it needed to be for longer because the members would be one day short of being able to qualify for the benefits.
Two days later, Crow, Sens. Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R), and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) led a letter that was also signed by Colorado Reps. Joe Neguse (D), Ed Perlmutter (D) and Diana DeGette (D), and more than 120 other members of Congress from both parties, pushing the administration to ensure that National Guard members were able to receive their benefits.
4:25 p.m. | Denver Public Library launches reopening survey
The Denver Public Library wants your input as they develop a plan to reopen the library in a phased manner. The survey is available in English, Spanish, Amharic, Arabic, and Vietnamese, and can be accessed by clicking this link.
4:23 p.m. | El Paso County approves variance for places of worship, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners has approved two variance requests from the county's public health department: One for places of worship and another one for Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Those places will now be allowed to open with limited capacity and with strict social distancing guidelines in place.
"Spiritual and mental health is a critical factor to our region’s response, recovery, and resiliency to COVID-19,” said Mark Waller, Chair of the El Paso County Board of Commissioners. “Today’s vote demonstrates the role our churches play in the health and strength of our community. We will continue our work on variances to get our County open for worship, business, and recreation.”
4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 numbers in Colorado
Here are the latest numbers from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Note: The (+) denotes the change in cases from the previous day.
25,121 positive cases (+354)
4,254 hospitalizations (+58)
60 counties (no change)
166,596 people tested (+5,800)
1,421 deaths among cases (+29)
1,168 deaths due to COVID-19 (+33)
272 outbreaks (+1)
The latest hospital data from the CDPHE shows 464 hospital beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients — 20 fewer beds than reported on Wednesday.
3:09 p.m. | Denver Center for the Performing Arts cancels 2020-21 theater company season
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has canceled the 2020-21 Theatre Company season, including Rattlesnake Kate, Emma, Mojada, A Christmas Carol and 5 more locally-produced plays and musicals due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado on Thursday filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of inmates against Gov. Jared Polis and the Department of Corrections over state officials' response to COVID-19 in Colorado prisons.
The suit is seeking an emergency order "to compel the DOC to protect medically vulnerable incarcerated people from COVID-19," an ACLU news release said.
The order being sought would prioritize the release of people who are older, sick or vulnerable to serious illness or death from COVID-19.
The largest coronavirus outbreak in Colorado stems from the Sterling Correctional Facility, a state prison in northeast Colorado, where 539 inmates and 22 employees have tested positive for the virus. Two inmates have died of COVID-19 from the outbreak.
Polis early in the COVID-19 response signed an executive order to reduce prison populations, if possible, to reduce the spread of the virus. But the ACLU in the lawsuit Thursday said less than 300 people have been released from Colorado prisons due to the COVID-19 response, about 2% of the state prison population.
Colorado paid out another $95.3 million in regular unemployment benefits last week – the second-highest weekly state payout on record – though initial claims fell again for the sixth week in a row.
Another 15,603 Coloradans filed initial regular unemployment claims last week – down from 17,825 the week before. And another 6,635 people filed federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims last week.
That brings the combined total of initial regular and PUA claims to 498,851 over the past 10 weeks. Last week, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment officials said the state’s unemployment rate climbed to 11.3% in April – the highest in Colorado since comparable recordkeeping began in 1978.
The state paid out another $95.3 million in regular unemployment benefits last week – the second-most ever behind the week ending May 9, when the state paid out $96 million.
In total, the state has paid out $616.8 million in regular unemployment benefits since March 29. During the height of the Great Recession, the state paid out an average of $19 million in regular benefits.
The state has also disperses around $868 million in the $600 a week benefit for anyone receiving regular or PUA benefits since the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program kicked in in Colorado mid-April.
Click here to read the full story.
7:29 a.m. | State labor department releases initial regular unemployment claims numbers from last week
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reports there were 15,603 initial regular unemployment claims filed the week ending May 23. The week prior saw 17,825 of these claims. This marks the sixth week in a row of gradual declines in regular unemployment claims.
In addition, there were 6,635 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance initial unemployment claims for the week ending on May 23.
Over the past ten weeks, a total of 421,403 regular unemployment initial claims have been filed. A grand total of 498,851 claims were filed, including federal PUA benefits.
6:49 a.m. | Highlands Ranch Community Association reopens June 1
HRCA will reopen its recreation centers to the public on June 1. Hours have been modified to Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Open during the initial phase of reopening:
- Administration offices will be open as normal from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday
- Cardio/ Free Weight/ Circuit – limited capacity with adequate spacing
- Gymnasium – for programs and programmed activities (pickleball, badminton) in limited capacity only. No open gym.
- Programs- check website for programs and restrictions/guidelines for each program
- Fitness classes and Personal Training
- Backcountry – trails and archery range (check website for programs)
- Tennis pavilion/indoor tennis
- Golf imulator at NR – singles or two people of same family
- Batting cages
Not open during the initial phase of reopening:
- Locker rooms and family changing rooms (no changing or showering)
- Running tracks
- Hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms
- Climbing wall
- Racquetball courts at Northridge
- Outdoor volleyball courts
- Facility rentals
- Water fountains- please bring your own water bottle
- Senior lounge – due to limited space and no room to safely social distance
For the 10th straight week, weekly initial claims for unemployment have totaled in the millions.
On Thursday, the Department of Labor reported that 2.1 million people filed initial claims for unemployment for the week ending May 23. In the last 10 weeks, 40 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment.
5:50 a.m. | A Taste of Colorado canceled
The Downtown Denver Partnership has decided to cancel the 2020 A Taste of Colorado, which was planned for Sept. 5-7. They say it will not be rescheduled this year.
You can learn more about how to support the event’s vendor community by clicking here.
5 a.m. | Happening today: Hancock to host regional town hall
On Wednesday, Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced that he will host a regional town hall today with local officials to discuss coordinated responses to COVID-19. Aside from Hancock, the following people will be in attendance: Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul, Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet, Adams County Commissioner Emma Pinter, RTD Board of Directors Chair Angie Rivera-Malpiede, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova and Colorado Municipal League Executive Director Kevin Bommer.
The town hall will run 5:30-6:30 p.m. today. It will be accessible via video conference at https://bit.ly/2Tw91TZ or through call-in at 408-418-9388 with access code 965 406 133. Call-in numbers are also available in Spanish (720-865-2133) and Vietnamese (720-865-2688).
5 a.m. | Happening today: Rocky Mountain National Park reservations go on sale
RMNP, which began its reopening phase Wednesday, will open its timed entry system for June and July at 8 a.m. today.
The purpose of this system is to increase park access while also giving visitors the opportunity to comply with health guidelines related to COVID-19. Visitors will need a timed entry permit or camping reservation to enter the park between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day.
If you plan to visit the park between now and October, you'll need one a timed entry permit. Here's how the system works and how to get one.
Click here for the live blog from Wednesday, May 27, 2020.