Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from May 23-24, 2020

Posted at 12:00 PM, May 23, 2020

This is the live blog from Saturday and Sunday, May 23 and 24, 2020. Click here for the live blog from Monday, May 25.

There have been more than 23,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado as of Friday’s release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and 1,088 deaths caused directly by the novel coronavirus.

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:

Sunday, May 24

5:33 p.m. | Colorado churches make the move back into their buildings

While Colorado has already allowed for very limited capacities at places of worship for a couple of weeks, Douglas County was granted a variance to allow more in-person services this weekend, which was a welcome change for many parishioners.

“It's been tough with no church in this pandemic. It's good to be here finally, and I'm excited to be back,” said Grace Chapel parishioner Trey Bowman.

Click here to read the full story.

5:20 p.m. | Park Meadows Mall welcomes shoppers once again after being closed for nearly two months

Shoppers lined up outside Park Meadows Mall waiting to be some of the first people allowed back inside after nearly two months. The shopping center welcomed customers on Sunday morning after Douglas County was granted a variance that will pave the way for other businesses to reopen.

"We always said we would gradually open, so we don’t have a lot of stores opening on this first day. But I believe gradually, each day over the next 30 days, we’ll have more and more stores open," said Park Meadows Senior General Manager Pam Kelly.

Click here to read the full story.

4:55 p.m. |Latest Colorado COVID-19 data

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released updated Colorado COVID-19 data Saturday afternoon. The latest figures are (Change from Saturday):

24,174 cases (+210)
4,119 hospitalized (+14)
60 counties (+0)
150,308 people tested (+2,564)
1,332 deaths among cases (+5)
1,088 deaths due to COVID-19 (+0)
264 outbreaks (+1)

Colorado hospitalization data has not updated since Saturday.

4:40 p.m. | Finalized guidelines for initial reopening of Colorado restaurants for dine-in options unveiled

Colorado restaurants will have to limit indoor dining to either 50% of their maximum occupancy or 50 people, whichever is fewer, according to the finalized guidelines for the plan to begin allowing restaurants to reopen to dine-in options, which were unveiled Sunday.

The governor’s office is expected to provide more insight as to when the new rules will go into effect on Monday. The finalized guidelines come after the state released draft guidelines last Tuesday, which restaurant owners then spent the week giving the state input on before the guidelines were finalized this weekend. Restaurants have spent days, or weeks, in some cases, preparing for when they can reopen.

Click here to read the finalized guidelines

Many of the guidelines haven’t changed since they were released in draft form, but there are some slight modifications – some of which have been foreshadowed in the variances granted to several larger counties Friday and Saturday that allowed them to reopen restaurants for dine-in options to varying degrees.

The guidelines will apply to any place where food is available for on-premise consumption from a licensed retail food establishment. They say that “other kinds of establishments that do not serve food will be evaluated in June.”

More information is expected to be released on the guidelines on Monday, and Gov. Jared Polis is expected to further address the loosened restrictions and guidance for some other industries, like the ski industry and summer camp industry, this week.

For full details on the guidelines, click here to read the full story.

1:10 p.m. | Arapahoe Basin to reopen Wednesday for limited, reservation-only skiing and snowboarding

Hopefully you didn’t put your ski and snowboard gear away for the season just yet – because Arapahoe Basin will reopen on Wednesday by reservation only more than two months after ski areas were ordered to close statewide.

The ski area off Highway 6 just over Loveland Pass will open back up to limited skiing and riding Wednesday morning, but there will be several caveats that will make hitting the slopes different than it was earlier this winter, before the COVID-19 outbreak hit the state.

Only a limited number of people will be allowed to ski or ride on a daily basis, and those people will only be able to do so with a reservation.

Skiers and snowboarders will be required to wear a face covering whenever they cannot be at least 6 feet from other skiers and riders. No tailgating will be allowed, and staff will ask people to leave if they do not follow A-Basin’s guidelines, which the ski area says were developed along with the state and county health departments.

A-Basin is recommending only experienced skiers and riders seek reservations to come to the mountain because of the spring skiing conditions, limited number of trails that will be open and spacing requirements.

Lifts will start running Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and will stop running for the day at 3 p.m. Uphill access will be open from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. if people have uphill access passes. Skiers and riders are asked not to arrive before 7:30 a.m.

Reservations will open up starting at 7 p.m. on Monday. People will be required to make reservations 36 hours in advance of their intended ski day, and reservations will be handed out on a first-come-first served basis.

Skiers and snowboarders will have to bring their printed reservation and pass or single-day lift ticket with them to the mountain to be allowed on the property.

Click here for more details.

12:20 p.m. | Park Meadows Mall reopens

There were about 20 people lined up outside Park Meadows Mall just before it reopened at noon today after Douglas County was granted a variance Friday that allowed the mall to reopen in a limited capacity. Click here for more on the variance and what the mall plans to do.

11 a.m. | Colorado National Guard will perform Memorial Day helicopter flyovers across Colorado

The Colorado National Guard will perform a helicopter flyover across much of the state Monday to honor our fallen service members as well as the health care and frontline workers.

One flyover will start at Buckley Air Force Base at 8:30 a.m. and will head across the metro area, then to Colorado Springs and back to Buckley.

The second will start at 9 a.m. at the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum and fly across the Western Slope down to Silverton and back.

The helicopters flying out of Buckley AFB will be a CH-47 Chinook, two UH-60 Black Hawks and one LUH-72 Lakota. Two UH-60 Black Hawks will launch out of HAATS for the Western Slope flyover.

“We are really excited that U.S. Army leadership has allowed us to focus some of our training hours to thank our veterans and the healthcare workers and first responders caring for them during these difficult times,” State Army Aviation Officer U.S. Army Col. William Gentle said. “This Memorial Day is unique but no less important than any other in our nation’s history. We must never forget those who have sacrificed so much to keep this great nation free.”

Click here to see the full schedule and routes.

10:20 a.m. | Variance granted for El Paso County restaurants to open to 50% capacity

Restaurants in El Paso County will be able to open Sunday to 50% capacity after the state granted a variance Saturday that was requested earlier this week.

People will need to be at least six feet apart and restaurants will not be allowed to seat more than 50 people indoors at any given time. They will also only be allowed to have half their normal occupancy code inside the building at a time.

The variance request was submitted Monday by the county. Colorado Department of Public Health Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan wrote that the county application “describes a robust public health system with continuing collaboration with community partners to ensure that testing capacity, epidemiological response, PPE resources, and healthcare infrastructure remain stable and sufficient to meet community needs.”

Groups will be limited to 10 people or less and must be from the same household or social group, the county said.

Restaurants will be required to take reservations, including walk-in reservations, and will be encouraged to record and maintain the name and phone number of one adult per party, the table assignment, and seating and departure times for 21 days in order to contact trace in the event a guest or employee gets sick with COVID-19.

The county said that such information would only be provided to the county public health department upon request.

As of Sunday morning, variances had been granted to 30 counties, including multiple variances in some counties.

Click here to read the full story.

Saturday, May 23

4:13 p.m. | Latest Colorado COVID-19 data

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released updated Colorado COVID-19 data Saturday afternoon. The latest figures are (Change from Friday):

23,964 cases (+477)
4,105 hospitalized (+23)
60 counties (+0)
147,744 people tested (+5,077)
1,327 deaths among cases (+3)
1,088 deaths due to COVID-19 (+0)
263 outbreaks (+3)

According to Colorado hospitalization data, there are 426 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases and 145 hospitalized who are suspected of having COVID-19. Thirty-two people were discharged over the past 24 hours, and 336 of the 1,085 ventilators in the state are currently in use.

3:45 p.m. | Larimer County granted partial variance allowing limited reopenings of restaurants, gyms, more

Larimer County was granted a partial variance Friday to begin reopening restaurants, gyms, theaters, camping, and some other places on a limited basis and to start allowing some public gatherings.

The county submitted its request on May 15 and it was granted Friday. According to the variance granted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, public gatherings of between 10 and 50 people would be allowed if a building has enough square footage and can allow for at least 6 feet of distancing between all people there.

Plans on the space and area used for such gatherings would have to be submitted to the county and face coverings will be required. For more information on the variance and process for businesses, click here.

Click here to read the full variance request
Click here to read the variance granted by CDPHE

The variance allows for loosened restrictions on public gatherings, indoor malls, personal services, restaurants, general recreation and camping, graduation, places of worship, gyms, theaters, bowling alleys, pools, the rental of recreational equipment, short-term lodging and libraries if they meet certain requirements outlined by the county and state.

CDPHE Executive Director wrote that the department was not granting variances to allow the county to loosen restrictions for now on bars, child care facilities, day camps, outdoor group activities or long-term care facilities but said that the county can submit another request for those facilities once new guidance is released.

Click here to read the full story.

2:14 p.m. | Weld County to conduct free drive-up COVID-19 testing at 4 sites in early June

With the goal of eventually testing 10% of the county population by mid-July, Weld County will operate four free drive-up COVID-19 testing sites in early June at locations across the county.

The testing will be available for adults age 18+ who are symptomatic or who are asymptomatic but have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Getting tested will not require a doctor’s note.

People will have to register by 3 p.m. the day before each testing site is operational but registration will open seven days before each testing date.

The first four testing sites, and their respective registration periods, are as follows:

· June 1 – Fort Lupton – Southeast County Services Complex, 2950 9th Street (Registration: May 25 – May 31)
· June 3 – Briggsdale – Briggsdale School, 515 Leslie Street (Registration: May 27 – June 2)
· June 5 – Severance – Severance High School, 1200 Hidden Valley Parkway (Registration: May 29 – June 4)
· June 8 – Firestone – Southwest County Services Complex, 4209 Weld Co. Rd 24 ½ (Registration: June 1 – June 7)

Weld County says more dates and locations will be revealed in coming weeks.

Click here to read the full story.

11:50 a.m. | Eagle County can allow dine-in services, guided tours, larger gatherings starting Monday

Starting Monday, Eagle County will reopen to dine-in services at restaurants at bars at reduced capacity, allow guided tours and reopen playgrounds and allow larger gatherings and some visitors if they have been free of COVID-19 symptoms for at least a week and a half.

The move to what the county is calling its “Blue Phase” was approved Friday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and will begin Monday, May 25.

Under the updated public health order, gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed as long as social distancing requirements are met.

Click here to read the variance request from the county
Click here to read the granting of the variance by the CDPHE

Dine-in services at restaurants and bars will also be allowed to re-open dine-in services, but indoor seating will be limited to 50% or less of the number of tables the restaurant had on March 5.

They will also not be allowed to have more than 50 people at the location so long as social distancing measures are met. Outdoor seating will not be limited, but patrons of the restaurant or bar will not be allowed to take alcohol with them when leaving a dine-in service, though takeout beverage services would still be allowed.

Short-term lodging in Eagle County can also resume with 50% or less occupancy capacity at a time if lodging operators develop a plan in compliance with the public health order and meet some other requirements.

Guided tours and playgrounds will be allowed to reopen if they meet proper social distancing and sanitation requirements.

Click here to read the full story.

9:37 a.m. | Variance granted to Douglas County to reopen restaurants, houses of worship, gyms, Park Meadows

Restaurants, houses of worship, gyms and the Park Meadows Mall will be allowed to reopen in limited capacities starting Saturday in Douglas County after the Colorado Department of Health and Environment approved variance requests on Friday.

The variances will allow most of those types of businesses to reopen at up to 50% of their posted capacity as long as they can ensure at least 28 square feet of space per person.

More than 175 people will not be allowed into the same building at the same time, according to the variance.

Click here to read the full variance request
Click here to read the variance granted by CDPHE

But at gyms and exercise studios, according to the request, the occupancy would be limited to 1 person per 120 square feet and limited to groups of up to 10 or 50% occupancy, whichever is less.

Signs will be required at the entrances of businesses telling people not to enter if they are sick, staff will be required to wear face coverings and customers are encouraged to wear them as well.

Click here to read the full story.

Click here for the live blog from Friday, May 22.