Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from May 18, 2020

Posted at 5:35 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 07:24:13-04

NOTE: This is the live blog from Monday, May 18, 2020. Click here to see the live blog from Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the state has seen almost 22,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in Colorado, as of Sunday at 4 p.m. There have been 1,215 deaths related to the virus.

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:

Monday, May 18

9:49 p.m. | Aurora approves resolution to provide hazard pay to police officers, firefighters

The Aurora City Council approved a resolution to appropriate money to provide hazard pay to police officers and firefighters for the reminder of the year.

4:30 p.m. | Arapahoe, Roosevelt National Forests, Pawnee National Grassland continue temporary restrictions

The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland said Monday that developed recreation site closures and fire restrictions will stay in place through the end of the month so employees can prepare facilities and get more cleaning supplies and PPE.

Trails and general forest areas will continue to be open for public use.

“We are working diligently to open the trails for full access and ask that visitors be patient during this transition period. Be prepared for other options if your trail is closed, and whenever possible, recreate locally. Local county restrictions may also limit access to National Forest System lands, so check with local jurisdictions for any county road closures,” U.S. Forest Service spokesperson said.

If people are visiting national forests, they’re advised to practice proper social distancing, take CDC precautions and prepare to pack out trash and waste because restrooms and garbage collection services are limited or nonexistent.

Burning of any sort and smoking are also prohibited unless a person has an exemption.

4:18 p.m. | Colorado needs storage space for PPE

Colorado is asking if anyone can help facilitate allowing the state to use its storage space to store personal protective equipment as it continues to receive more shipments.

People or businesses that may wish to help can fill out a “Storage Space for State of Colorado” form and can contact the state’s distribution coordinator via email by clicking here if you need more information.

4:05 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 in Colorado data

The latest data on COVID-19 in Colorado from the Department of Health and Environment shows the following (Change from Sunday in parenthesis):

22,202 cases (+264)
3,899 hospitalized (+27)
60 counties (+0)
129,159 people tested (+2,829)
1,224 deaths among cases (+9)
921 deaths due to COVID-19 (+43)
228 outbreaks (+5)

Additionally, as of Monday, 460 people confirmed to have COVID-19 were hospitalized and 156 patients who were under investigation for the virus were hospitalized, according to state data.

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospital beds in use as of May 18, 2020

Forty-two patients were discharged or transferred from hospitals within the past 24 hours and just 368 of the 1,078 ventilators the state has were in use.

4:04 p.m. | Three employees at El Paso County Walmart test positive

Three employees at a Walmart store in Colorado Springs have tested positive for COVID-19. The El Paso County health department on Monday alerted anyone who may have been at the Walmart on Space Center Drive, off North Powers Boulevard, between May 8 and May 13.

Officials were working with Walmart to investigate who may have been exposed to the three positive cases. The store will be cleaned and disinfected on Monday evening, officials said.

Walmart has taken temperatures of employees when they report to work and provided plexiglass barriers at checkout lanes. Walmart is also limiting the number of customers who can be in a store at the same time.

3:15 p.m. | Colorado's unemployment filing system potentially exposed private data of some people

The state’s computer system for unemployment filings last week potentially exposed the private data of some Coloradans who had filed for federal unemployment benefits.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said that the unauthorized access was fixed within an hour of it being identified on Saturday by a vendor the state is working with, Deloitte, on its computer system for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.

CDLE Deputy Executive Director Cher Haavind said that the department was aware of six people out of around 72,000 who had access to the screens that showed the data in a single-user session.

“Our data shows they either exited out of the system once they saw the screens or reported it to us once they discovered it,” she said.

The CDLE said it is now offering free credit monitoring for the next year to the 72,000 people who have filed initial PUA claims.

Click here to read the full story.

1:30 p.m. | Colorado restaurant reopening to include increased outdoor seating; draft guidance coming this week

Colorado is expected to release draft guidance for how restaurants can begin to safely reopen Monday or Tuesday, and cities are being advised to start looking at opening up sidewalks and streets to allow people to eat at restaurants this summer in a socially-distanced manner, Gov. Jared Polis said Monday.

The initial draft guidance will be released so restaurant owners, cities and municipalities can provide feedback to the state over the next few days before the governor releases final guidance on May 25 so long as the infection data shows it is safe for them to reopen in some capacity.

Polis said Monday that having the draft guidance out early will give cities and municipalities time to decide what will work best for restaurants there, but he urged them to start looking at and discussing plans to use city streets and sidewalks, and the patios and parking lots of restaurants, to allow for spaced-out seating outside of an indoor environment.

The Colorado Restaurant Association has also been calling for similar measures and praised the city of Denver’s move Monday to launch a website at which eligible businesses can submit a proposal for expanded outdoor seating.

The city said that the eligible business’s plans should include accommodations for safety, mobility and emergency access. Restaurants, bars, cafes, coffee shops, taverns, brewpubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms and other places that offer food or alcohol consumption would be eligible.

The city said it is opening its application process now in order to begin the review of expansion requests before the state’s rules are finalized.

Once a proposal is approved, the city says the outdoor seating program would be available through Sept. 7 – when the city might evaluate a “potential extension of the program,” the city said in a news release.

Click here to read the full story.

1 p.m. | 8th worker at JBS meatpacking plant dies of coronavirus

Another worker of the JBS meatpacking plant has died of COVID-19, bringing the total to eight known deaths at the Greeley plant, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7. The union has identified the employee as Tin Aye.

She had been employed at the JBS facility for over a decade and became a grandmother on March 28, the union announced in a press release.

11 a.m. | Polis encourages restaurants to explore outdoor dining

Gov. Jared Polis on Monday said the state is encouraging cities and counties to look into options for restaurants reopening outdoor dining, including on sidewalks and shutting down streets to accommodate more space.

Polis said the state would "waive every rule and regulation we can" to allow restaurants to serve beer and wine on streets and release those guidelines in coming days.

Increasing outdoor dining space would allow restaurants to increase their capacity while keeping customers socially distant, Polis said.

10:40 a.m. | Polis: "If you have symptoms, you can get tested"

Gov. Jared Polis on Monday, speaking from the Stride testing center in Wheat Ridge, said the state has reached the goal of allowing anyone with symptoms to get tested, for free.

"If you have symptoms of COVID-19, consult your medical provider and get tested," Polis said.

If a Coloradan does not have a medical provider or can't reach their doctor, they can get tested at one of the 32 community testing centers in the state, including the Stride center, where Polis held his news conference Monday.

The state can process up to 10,000 COVID-19 tests per day, Polis said.

8:35 a.m. | Wheat Ridge extends closure of city facilities

The city of Wheat Ridge has extended the closure of its facilities and playgrounds until June 1 in order to control the spread of COVID-19.

Patrick Goff, Wheat Ridge city manager, said the city is continuing to focus on the health and safety of its staff and community.

“Wheat Ridge staff continue to be responsive to the needs of our community through virtual and electronic methods as well as by phone," he said. "Our Emergency Response Team, led by myself and Commander Salser, the City’s Emergency Manager, is continuing to meet on a regular basis to adjust our service delivery based on the circumstances presented by COVID-19 as well as plan next steps for safely opening our facilities in the coming weeks and months. “

8:08 a.m. | 9,000 free meals for Aurora residents through mobile food pantry

In partnership with Aurora Interfaith Community Services, the city of Aurora Community Relations Division will distribute 1,000 free boxes of food — roughly enough for 9,000 meals — every week beginning May 20 through Aug. 26 via the city's mobile food pantry program. The city announced this Monday morning.

This program is part of the city’s continuous efforts to provide needed services to the community in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Photo ID or other proof of Aurora residency is required.

The first event will be May 20 at Aurora Central High School, 11700 E. 11th Ave. The next is May 27 at Hinkley High School, 1250 Chambers Road.

Distribution will begin at 10 a.m. each day and last until 1 p.m., or until all food has been distributed. Call 720-557-6444 for more information.

7:13 a.m. | Gov. Polis to hold press conference at 10:30 a.m.

Gov. Jared Polis will provide an update on the state's response on COVID-19 today at 10:30 a.m.

5 a.m. | Thousands are deferring their plans to leave military

Across the military, uncertainty about future jobs or college opportunities is driving more service members to re-enlist or at least postpone their scheduled departures. Click here to read more.

Click here for the live blog from Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17, 2020.