Headlines April 16, 2020

Headlines April 16, 2020

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The latest figures on the novel Coronavirus released by state health officials show that nearly half of all deaths from the virus have occurred in nursing or residential care facilities.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Wednesday that as many as 176 residents of residential care facilities are believed to have died from the new coronavirus. These numbers include 39 cases where residents showed symptoms of the new virus but died before being tested.

So far 357 people have died in the state from COVID-19. Nursing homes and residential care facilities have been thought to be especially vulnerable and have been locked down for weeks.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment says there were more than 104,000 new unemployment claims filed the week ending April 11. This is 55,000 more than the week prior.

The total number of new claims for unemployment assistance in the state over the past four weeks is not more than 231,000.

The state labor department identified the industries where they’re seeing the most claims.

The accommodation and food services sector has seen more than 21,000 claims. Healthcare and Social Service has seen nearly 9,800 claims and the Retail industry has 7,400 claims.

Eight immigrants being held at the Aurora ICE processing center were released yesterday following a federal lawsuit filed by a coalition of advocacy groups demanding the release of 14 medically vulnerable people being detained in the prison.

According to a press release from the plaintiffs in the suit, the 8 people released from immigration detention are all people living with HIV.

The lawsuit says that detainees do not have personal protective equipment or cleaning supplies other than a generic bath bar and spray solution. Five staff members who work in the facility have tested positive for the virus, and several dorm units in the facility were placed under quarantine. Some of the other immigrants mentioned in the suit include those with respiratory illness, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, cancer, asthma, and otherwise severely compromised immune systems.

 

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Colorado’s current stay-at-home orders, which were extended two weeks from the previous deadline, are set to lift in a week and a half. That is, if state health officials are prepared for it. In a press call today, Scott Bookman, Colorado’s incident commander for the pandemic, said the state considers widespread COVID-19 testing capacity a key requirement of opening up the state.

Bookman said the goal is to have a minimum of one testing site in each county in the state. Bookman noted there is still much work to do to reach that goal. Multiple factors affect the ability of state and commercial labs to perform widespread tests, including limited supplies of personal protective equipment, and limited amounts of the chemicals necessary for the tests.

Public health officials are monitoring the progression of the virus through Colorado communities, trying to predict the best time for the state to resume at least some of its normal functions. Despite the current limits in testing, Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, noted that the state’s models are accounting for that discrepancy.

“Herlihy says that approximately 30% of cases are being reported to the state. She said that underreporting of cases is being factored into models being used by the state as they make decisions on stay at home orders.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, public transportation in and around the Denver metro area will significantly decrease starting this Sunday, April 19. The Regional Transportation District, or RTD, announced the specifics of service changes today, citing fewer riders as a result of the statewide stay at home orders. Many service lines will operate with so-called weekend frequency, which is usually about half as often as weekday frequency. In Boulder, lines with reduced frequency include the 205, 225, Bound, Dash, Skip, Jump, and Flatiron Flyer buses.

A few bus routes, including the 209 and 236, will be suspended temporarily, while some operations around the region, including the A Line light rail to DIA, will continue to run on normal schedules. The transit agency noted in a press release that it will reevaluate its services as ridership demands change.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Colorado Boulder has cancelled all on-campus events through July 31. As the Boulder Daily Camera reports, that includes the Dead and Company shows, which were set to play at Folsom Field on July 10 and 11. A spokesperson for the university said they are considering rescheduling the concerts for a later date, if circumstances allow.

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