Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from May 7, 2020

Posted at 5:14 AM, May 07, 2020

NOTE: This is the live blog from Thursday, May 7. Click here for the live blog for Friday, May 8, 2020.

Almost 3,000 people have been hospitalized after testing positive for the novel coronavirus in Colorado since it reached the state, according to data released Wednesday afternoon by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. As of the data available then, 921 Coloradans have died.

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:

Thursday, May 7

9:42 p.m. | Catholic Masses to resume this Saturday in a limited fashion

Public Catholic Masses will resume in a limited way starting this Saturday, May 9, the Archdiocese of Denver said in a letter to the faithful.

"In March 13, we joined our brother bishops of Colorado in making the difficult decision to suspend public Mass out of concern for the common good of the people of our parishes and the people of Colorado, the letter reads. "At the time, 56 days ago, we did not foresee the suspension lasting as long as it has and have determined that it is now time to resume public celebration of the Mass in a limited and gradual manner."

The archdiocese has set forth new guidelines, but they asked that parishioners check with your parish website if Mass will be offered, when it will be offered and how to attend due to the limitations.

9:01 p.m. | Fairplay cancels all summer events due to COVID-19

The Town of Fairplay has canceled all summer events including the 72nd Burro Days celebration, the town's TGIFairplay Concert series, and their annual Independence Day celebration due to ongoing health crisis caused by COVID-19 in Colorado.

"This was not an easy choice for us to make and we have septn considerable time considering our options," Mayor Frank Just said in a letter sent to the community. "Despite this difficult time, it will not last forever, we will have events again and the 72nd Burro Days will take place on July 24 and 25, 2021. We look forward to once again holding the celebration which best defines our history, community, and resiliency."

5:39 p.m. | Bennet announces $11.7 million in funding to expand COVID-19 testing

Sen. Michael Bennet said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded the state $11.7 million through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand COVID-19 testing capabilities in Colorado. The funds, which were included in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Health Care Enhancement Act, will be granted to nineteen HRSA-funded health centers across the state to help bolster COVID-19 testing in local communities.

4:30 p.m. | Frontier Airlines implements temperature screenings for all its staff

Frontier Airlines said it will implement temperature screenings for all passengers and team members prior to boarding flights, effective June 1, 2020. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will be denied boarding, the company said in a news release.

Additionally, effective Friday, May 8, passengers will be required to wear face coverings on all flights.

4:15 p.m. | The Lumineers, Nathaniel Rateliff, OneRepublic to play Colorado Gives Back

The Lumineers are bringing some of the biggest names in the state for Colorado Gives Back, a livestream benefit concert that will raise money to help workers in the industry as well as restaurant employees affected by COVID-19.

Nathaniel Ratliffe, OneRepublic, Jewel and many other musical guests will share the Red Rocks Stage. But wait! There's more. At the Mile High Stage, you'll hear from retired Broncos MVP Peyton Manning, Nolan Arenado (from the Colorado Rockies), Mikaela Shiffrin and more. Gov. Jared Polis and former Gov. John Hickenlooper will also be in attendance.

The concert is this Friday, May 8, at 1 p.m.

4 p.m. | Latest coronavirus data

Here were the latest coronavirus numbers for Colorado, as of 4 p.m. Thursday, with the change from Wednesday in parentheses:

18,371 cases (+541)
3,557 hospitalized (+571)
59 counties (+2)
92,267 people tested (+2,378)
944 deaths (+23)
178 outbreaks (+4)

And here were the latest hospital numbers from the state, as of Thursday:

GRAPH: COVID-19 hospital beds in use as of May 7, 2020

1:31 p.m. | Elbert County requests variance from Safer at Home order

Elbert County has requested a partial waiver from the CDPHE to allow county officials to adjust social distancing measures that best suit Elbert County's specific needs, given the county's small case numbers and low population density. The CDPHE has yet to issue a decision.

12:30 p.m. | Almost 420K Coloradans have filed initial unemployment claims over past 7 weeks

Nearly 420,000 Coloradans have filed initial unemployment claims over the past seven weeks, and the state paid out about $315 million in regular unemployment benefits last month – triple the previous monthly record, which was set at the height of the Great Recession in May 2009.

The state paid out another $84.8 million in regular unemployment benefits last week – nearly 10 times the weekly average this year prior to the end of March.

Gig workers, self-employed workers and contractors have been paid out $65.6 million in federal PUA benefits so far. And both regular and PUA-eligible people have been paid out $407.3 million in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) so far – the $600 a week program for people receiving any type of unemployment benefit.

CDLE Unemployment Division Director Jeff Fitzgerald said the department had so far gone through about 55 of those and continued benefits for about 50 of those people. He said five cases were deemed worthy of having their benefits suspended.

The department reiterated that there are a few common examples in which a person could refuse to return to work and still collect unemployment benefits.

The CDLE officials said that signing up for direct deposit is still the quickest way to receive payments – but noted that people first have to file their initial claim, then within 24 hours go back and request direct deposit instead of a debit card.

Click here to read the full story.

Noon | Update on alternative care facilities

Officials on Thursday gave an update on two large alternative care facilities and how the state plans to keep them on standby moving forward. The Colorado Convention Center in Denver and The Ranch in Loveland were designated as care facilities for COVID-19 patients, if the demand became necessary.

So far, neither facility has been needed, though officials are making plans to keep the facilities on standby if a second wave of cases happens later in the year, said Kevin Klein, the director of Colorado's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Klein said 200 beds would be available at The Ranch and 250 would be available at the Colorado Convention Center. Both facilties would have the ability to increase capacity, if needed. The Ranch is projected to be operational by June 11 and the convention center operational by June 4.

"We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best," Klein said. "We hope safer-at-home and social distancing will keep that curve flat so we don't need to use [the facilities]."

8:41 a.m. | Bear Creek Lake Park's Big Soda Lake close

Bear Creek Lake Park's Big Soda Lake will close starting Saturday due to overcrowding and resource limitations.

“The health and safety of our staff and visitors is a top priority at Bear Creek Lake Park,” said Regional Park Supervisor Drew Sprafke. “We are experiencing mid-summer crowds in early May, causing public safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Starting Saturday, parking lots and trail access to the lake will be barricaded. No entry will be allowed. Park rangers will be in the area to educate, and then enforce if needed. Violators will be subject to a citation. This closure will be reevaluated after Memorial Day. Click here for more details.

(NOTE: This entry was corrected after mistakenly reading the park was also closed.)

8 a.m. | Military Times reports that COVID-19 survivors will be banned from joining military

According to the Military Times, a past COVID-19 diagnosis is a no-go for processing, according to a U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command memo circulating on Twitter. Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell confirmed to Military Times that the memo is authentic.

7:30 a.m. | More than 41,000 unemployment claims filed between April 26 and May 2

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced this morning that there were 28,164 initial regular unemployment claims and 13,149 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims filed the week ending May 2.

Over the past seven weeks, a total of 419,547 claims, including PUA, were filed.

6:10 a.m. | Polis responds to UnitedHealth Group providing $1.5 billion in support for customers

After UnitedHealth Group decided to provide more than $1.5 billion of additional support to customers, the Colorado governor issued the below statement.

“I’m so excited Coloradans are getting money back in credits and economic relief," Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement. "This has been a difficult time for Coloradans and many families have been financially impacted. We’re thrilled to see United Healthcare provide this support to their customers, putting more money back into pockets of hardworking Coloradans. We’re proud of the steps we took in the early days of the pandemic to provide relief to Coloradans and I’m hopeful this is among the first of refunds from other carriers.”

5:30 a.m. | Spirit Airlines and JetBlue stop DIA flights

Spirit and JetBlue have received the U.S. Department of Transportation’s approval to temporarily suspend service to Denver International Airport due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click herefor the live blog from Wednesday, May 6, 2020.