Pueblo Enacts A Citywide Curfew To Help Curb Rise In Coronavirus Cases

Brett Mach/for CPR News
Some of the flags that fly along the Union Avenue Bridge that crosses over the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk in Pueblo, Colorado, March 16, 2020.

Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar has announced that the city will implement a curfew starting Friday to try to stem a rise in COVID-19 cases. It will be in effect for at least two weeks, running from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m.

There are exceptions for trips considered critical or essential. Gradisar also said the city will step up enforcement, including citations for people who break curfew.

"I realize that this is drastic action," Gradisar said. "But we need to spend these two weeks in Pueblo slowing the spread of the virus."

According to the state health department, the 14-day positivity rate among those tested in Pueblo County has risen to 5.7 percent. Colorado’s generally accepted threshold is 5 percent.

For every 100,000 people in Pueblo County, 367 coronavirus cases have been confirmed over the past two weeks, according to state data. Gradisar said that number was 66 on Oct. 1.

Gradisar added that the area’s hospital capacity is also at risk and that the city is testing wastewater, which is another indicator of the prevalence of COVID-19.

"What we are facing in Pueblo is a public health disaster, which threatens lives and our economy," he said. "We've got a very limited period of time to act."

Enforcement consists of a municipal citation and a fine of up to $1,000 and a possible year in jail.

Pueblo Police Chief Troy Davenport said the department is hoping for compliance.

"If you have a law that's on the books that's intended to protect the public health, then it's got to be enforced," he added.

Davenport said there are exceptions for people going to work, the pharmacy, a grocery store or out for similar reasons.

Other rules have been enforced for at least one business. Mayor Gradisar said a bar in Pueblo will have its liquor license suspended for three days beginning Friday over violations of public health protocols. A hearing is planned next week to see if further action is required.

"I wish this action was not necessary," Grasidar said. "But as our numbers continue to rise, I would rather close one business for a few days than close all of our businesses."

Gradisar is also asking residents to avoid casual and family gatherings that may cause the coronavirus to spread even more.

"We will get through this together, Pueblo," he said. "What kind of shape we'll be in at the end of this and how many of our small businesses survive this pandemic depends on what we do today."

Pueblo County is currently in the Level 2 Safer at Home designation and is working with the state on a broader mitigation plan.