Colorado Coronavirus Cases Continue To Rise, Threatening Re-openings

July 15, 2020
Restaurants Allowed to Reopen Fort Collins ScreeningRestaurants Allowed to Reopen Fort Collins ScreeningHart Van Denburg/CPR News
A few restaurants in the Old Town section of Fort Collins including Lucky Joe’s were seating and serving customers Wednesday, May 27, 2020, as the state allowed them to begin to reopen with capacity limits, social distancing and face mask rules in place during the coronavirus outbreak. Larimer County set a local record for new cases on Sunday, threatening further easing of restrictions.

Cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in Colorado, an upward trend that began in mid-June and persisted through the July 4 holiday.

While hospitalizations and case numbers have increased throughout July, public health experts expressed concern over the 3-day average positivity rate, which has risen from its lowest point at 2.34 percent in mid-June to 4.72 percent on Tuesday.

The World Health Organization considers a 5 percent test positivity rate — reflecting the percentage of tests administered that come up positive over a three-day period — a benchmark for how well a community is controlling viral spread.

Several counties that had low-transmission rates at the beginning of the pandemic are now seeing spikes. So far, no new restrictions have been placed on businesses or events since Gov. Jared Polis rolled back bar re-openings just before July 4, but the worrisome statistics have prompted many local officials to renew calls for social distancing and mask-wearing.

Larimer County reported 35 cases on Sunday, a single-day record for the county. Following the spike, local health officials expressed concern about their ability to maintain looser restrictions on businesses under a variance of the state public health order. If cases continue to rise, the variance will automatically be rescinded.

Larimer is one of several Colorado counties with a rising incidence rate, which is defined as the number of new positive cases detected per 100,000 people in the population. Boulder, Weld, Pueblo and Mesa counties all reported rising incidence rates this week, as did groupings of counties in the south and northeast of the state, which track public health data regionally.

While the incidence of COVID-19 is not rising in the metro-Denver area, the rates have been consistently high since the beginning of July.  

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced Wednesday that the city would pause further reopening of the economy following a spike in COVID-19 cases that began in mid-June. Hancock also promised to increase enforcement of the city’s mask requirement, which began in early May. Hancock encouraged other communities in the region to also encourage mask-wearing.

“Denver is not an island, we are also vulnerable to behavior of neighboring communities,” Hancock said. “To those who do not have a mandate we are all calling you to implement one.”

Jefferson County, which borders Denver, instituted a mask requirement on Tuesday. Hancock’s comments seem to now only apply to Douglas County, which is now the only county in the metro area without a mandatory mask requirement. Douglas County commissioners opted out of a mask order imposed by the Tri-County Health Department — which manages public health services for Douglas, Adams and Arapahoe counties — last week.

Following the mask requirement vote, Douglas County Commissioners also voted to begin the year-long process of leaving the Tri-County Health Department. In a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, the commissioners said that the leaving was not regarding the mask order, but the ability of unelected officials on the Tri-County Health board to make decisions for the county.

According to observational studies by Tri-County Health, Douglas County has a 75 percent compliance rate when it comes to wearing masks indoors. The County commissioners cited this statistic in saying that a mandate was unnecessary.

"What will be best for our citizens is giving them the personal responsibility to make those personal health decisions themselves," Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon said.

In addition to rising incidence rates, and a statewide average of positive tests once again flirting with 5 percent, the number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 has been gradually rising, from 327 on July 7 to 368 on Wednesday.

And along with all that, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also reported a spike in the number of outbreaks this week. Twenty-six newly added facilities or events reported at least two COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period.

The outbreaks included two newly reopened churches and a high school athletic summer camp at the Colorado Academy in Lakewood. At least 17 student athletes at the camp contracted COVID-19, prompting the school to cease athletic activities until August 3.


New Colorado outbreak details

Some of the cases listed did not occur at the facility but were uncovered through contact tracing from the outbreak

Andrew Wommack Ministries

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/13/20
  • Type: Event
  • County: Teller
  • COVID-19 cases: 2 staff positive, 6 attendees positive, 1 attendee probable

Ball Aerospace

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/13/20
  • Type: Office
  • County: Boulder
  • COVID-19 cases: 3 staff positive, 2 staff probable

Buena Vista Correctional Complex

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/10/20
  • Type: Jail
  • County: Chaffee
  • COVID-19 cases: 35 residents positive, 4 staff positive

Calvary Worship Center

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/10/20
  • Type: Church
  • County: El Paso
  • COVID-19 cases: 2 staff positive, 2 staff probable, 4 attendees positive

Chick-Fil-a Brighton

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/09/20
  • Type: Restaurant
  • County: Adams
  • COVID-19 cases: 6 staff positive, 5 staff probable

Chick-Fil-a #2721

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/08/20
  • Type: Restaurant
  • County: Jefferson
  • COVID-19 cases: 2 staff positive, 2 staff probable

Colorado Academy

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/08/20
  • Type: Athletic Summer Camp
  • County: Jefferson
  • COVID-19 cases: 1 staff positive, 20 attendees positive

COS Airport

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/09/20
  • Type: Airport
  • County: Jefferson
  • COVID-19 cases: 2 staff positive, 3 staff probable

Denver Water

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/14/20
  • Type: Utilities
  • County: Jefferson
  • COVID-19 cases: 11 staff positive

Desert Hawk Golf Course

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/13/20
  • Type: Golf Course
  • County: Pueblo
  • COVID-19 cases: 2 staff positive, 1 staff probable

Floyd’s Barbershop - Broadway

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/14/20
  • Type: Salon
  • County: Denver
  • COVID-19 cases: 4 staff positive

Gardens on Quail

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/14/20
  • Type: Elder Care
  • County: Jefferson
  • COVID-19 cases: 2 residents positive, 2 staff positive

Hapa Sushi Greenwood Village

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/14/20
  • Type: Restaurant
  • County: Arapahoe
  • COVID-19 cases: 4 staff positive

Hooters of Westminster

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/09/20
  • Type: Restaurant
  • County: Adams
  • COVID-19 cases: 2 staff positive, 2 staff probable

Horizon Childcare

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/10/20
  • Type: Day Care
  • County: El Paso
  • COVID-19 cases: 5 staff positive, 3 staff probable

JoaQuin Manufacturer

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/08/20
  • Type: Manufacturing
  • County: Adams
  • COVID-19 cases: 7 staff positive, 2 staff probable

Lark Springs

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/14/20
  • Type: Elder Care
  • County: El Paso
  • COVID-19 cases: 6 residents positive, 3 resident deaths

Los Dos Potrillos

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/10/20
  • Type: Restaurant
  • County: Arapahoe
  • COVID-19 cases: 3 staff positive, 1 staff probable

Nativ Hotel

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/14/20
  • Type: Hotel
  • County: Denver
  • COVID-19 cases: 3 staff positive

Nestle Purina Plant

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/13/20
  • Type: Food manufacturer
  • County: Denver
  • COVID-19 cases: 5 staff positive, 9 staff probable

Rehabilitation and Nursing Center of the Rockies

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/10/20
  • Type: Elder Care
  • County: Larimer
  • COVID-19 cases: 2 residents positive, 1 resident probable, 1 resident death, 3 staff positive

Sandstone Care

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/14/20
  • Type: Rehab Center
  • County: Denver
  • COVID-19 cases: 2 staff positive

Santiago’s Aurora

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/13/20
  • Type: Restaurant
  • County: Arapahoe
  • COVID-19 cases: 3 staff positive

Seven Lakes Memory Care

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/13/20
  • Type: Elder Care
  • County: Adams
  • COVID-19 cases: 2 residents positive, 4 staff positive, 1 staff probable

Shotgun Willie’s

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/09/20
  • Type: Strip Club
  • County: Arapahoe
  • COVID-19 cases: 4 staff positive

United Check Cashing

  • Date outbreak confirmed: 07/14/20
  • Type: Office
  • County: El Paso
  • COVID-19 cases: 3 staff positive, 2 staff probable

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