Denver Tightens Capacity Rules For Businesses, Offices As COVID-19 Cases Rise
Denver will enforce tighter restrictions for restaurants, retail and offices, reducing maximum capacity from 50% to 25% amid rising coronavirus cases in the state.
The new orders also limit indoor events to 25 people and outdoor events to a 75-person capacity, Mayor Michael B. Hancock said Tuesday as he announced the new restrictions. The last call for bars will be changed from 11 to 10 p.m., he said.
Hancock said the city is waiting for state guidance to finalize its rules for gyms and other public spaces. However, he said that current state-issued measures for arts and cultural institutions will remain in place.
Colorado is seeing a rise in new confirmed virus cases amid a record-breaking surge in cases across the country. Over 500 Coloradans are now hospitalized from the virus, Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday.
Polis, a Democrat, has avoided enforcing statewide measures and said he's leaving county-wide coronavirus measures up to local governments and public health officials to decide. However, he warned that the state will step in if rules are not followed and cases continue to rise.
The governor warned that Colorado's hospitalization numbers would surpass May's record figures by mid-November with the state's current 7-8% positivity rate, which measures community transmission. He said that could overrun the local healthcare system.
Scott Bookman, COVID Incident Command and Interim Director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the state hasn’t reached a point of rationing care in a crisis situation but some hospitals are facing a “concerning situation.”
Both Polis and Hancock criticized the lack of a federal, coordinated response to the virus.
"Had we followed science, had all worked together on a national strategy, the story might be different today," Hancock said.
Denver's two-week case rate is 385 per 100,000 people. It needs to fall to 175 cases per 100,000 in order to safely transition to less restrictive orders, according to Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment.
Colorado saw previous coronavirus spikes at the end of April and July but this time around, there is a higher positivity rate, an increase in all age groups and an increase in hospital admissions, McDonald said.
President Donald Trump has said, without evidence, that more testing leads to an increase in COVID-19 cases, but McDonald rejected that theory.
“That is absolutely not accurate. The positivity rate is going up," McDonald said. "The more testing that we would do generally you would see the positivity rate go down because we're testing more people who do not have the virus. That is not what we're seeing.”
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
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