Latest on COVID-19 in Colorado: Fremont County to reopen after variance approval

Posted at 5:56 AM, May 20, 2020

COLORADO — The statewide total of COVID-19 cases stands at 23,191 as of Wednesday afternoon, with 1,310 deaths among people who had the virus. Of those, 1,062 are directly due to COVID-19. To date, 4,037 people have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic.

Check 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.

Colorado Springs and Pueblo have both set up hotlines for people to call with questions about COVID-19. In Colorado Springs, call 719-575-8888 or the United Way 2-1-1 hotline. In Pueblo, call 719-583-4444.

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Below, we're updating this blog with the latest information regarding COVID-19 in Colorado.

Thursday, May 21

7:00 p.m. | Peterson AFB honors graduating seniors with parade

A special celebration took place on Thursday at Peterson Air Force base for graduating seniors.

The 'Team Pete' recognition parade, along Peterson Blvd honored, 70 graduating seniors and was organized by the 21st Force Support Squadron.

6:30 p.m. | More than 100 jobs cut at USPOC

According to a message from USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland obtained by News5, the organization notified 51 team members on Thursday their positions were eliminated, and another 33 learned they were being furloughed. Another 23 temporary workers had their assignments ended, and 32 were offered reassignments to new roles

6:00 p.m.| Wildwood Casino implementing new cleaning practices to keep employees, players safe

Casinos across the state remain closed with no timetable yet to reopen.

However, they're working hard to make sure gaming floors are clean and safe for when players finally return.

We spoke with Wildwood Casino on the new safety practices it's working on implementing. When players once again enter the doors of the casino the machines and tables will still be there, but people should be prepared for some big changes.

5:00 p.m. | Harrison D2 seniors getting drive-thru graduation parades

Seniors in Harrison District 2 can't walk across the stage just yet, so they're getting drive-thru graduation parades.

Seniors, families, and friends lined the parking lot at Sierra High School Thursday, as staff cheered each student and presented them with mock diplomas.

Photos were taken, and each student received yard signs celebrating their accomplishment.

3:19 p.m. | Two employees at Safeway on S. Murray Blvd test positive for COVID-19

According to the El Paso County Health department, two employees at Safeway on 1425 S. Murray Blvd test positive for COVID-19.

EPCH does not consider this an outbreak as it is not 'three or more cases', but does say that anyone who visited this location in the past week should monitor their symptoms.

3:00 p.m. | EPCHD confirms employee at 8th street Walmart has COVID-19

According to the El Paso County Health Department, one employee at the Walmart on 8th street in Colorado Springs has tested positive for COVID-19.

On Monday, the Walmart on Space Center Drive reported three new confirmed cases of employee with COVID-19. EPCH then confirmed a 4th case on Tuesday.

12:35 p.m.| Nearly 500K Coloradans filed for unemployment since late March, but initial claims continue to fall

Nearly half a million Coloradans filed initial unemployment claims over the past nine weeks, though regular initial claims fillings dropped last week in the state for the fifth week in a row as the full state moved to the safer-at-home phase and many businesses statewide reopened.

Another 17,825 Coloradans filed regular initial claims last week and another 7,633 self-employed or gig-worker Coloradans filed federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims last week, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

10:15 a.m.|Fremont County to reopen restaurants, gyms after variance approval from state

Some businesses in Fremont County will start to reopen following variance approval from the Colorado Department of Public Health Wednesday. The variance request was approved Wednesday that outlines the reopening of restaurants, fitness centers, places of worship, recreation and outfitters. Outfitters includes rafting, helicopter tours, skydiving, zipline and Jeep tours. Officials with the Fremont County Department of Health said Thursday this variance is effective immediately.

8:30 a.m.| CDC releases updated plan for reopening America amid pandemic

The updated guidance goes into more detail on how locations such as restaurants, schools, summer camps and universities should reopen in a safe manner. The guidance comes after weeks of wrangling between the CDC and White House over the details of the guidance.

7:30 a.m.|2.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing a 9-week total to 38 million

According to new figures released Thursday by the Department of Labor, 2.4 million people filed initial claims for unemployment for the week ending May 16. That brings a nine-week total — dating back to when states began closing non-essential businesses amid the pandemic — to 38 million initial claims for unemployment.

6 a.m.|Need cash? There's a need for life-saving plasma donations

During the COVID-19 pandemic plasma donation centers say they're coming up short. The donations are needed to make medications for people who have immune deficiencies. News5 learned plasma donations are one way to help the most vulnerable and your budget.

If you are someone who can use some extra cash to manage that financial stress, have you considered plasma donation? There's a serious need and medical experts believe you could possibly provide a life saving treatment even for someone battling coronavirus.

5:45 a.m.| Three Colorado children potentially have inflammatory illness; appears to be related to COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an alert about a rare, inflammatory illness being seen in children across the country called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). The CDC is still not sure what is responsible for MIS-C, but many children who contract it had the virus that causes COVID-19. Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday there are three potential cases of MIS-C now in Colorado.

Wednesday, May 20

4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 numbers in Colorado

22,797 cases
3,990 hospitalized
60 counties
135, 611 people tested
249 outbreaks
1,299 deaths among cases
1,001 deaths due to COVID-19

Find the latest information from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment here.

1 p.m.| Gov. Polis announces 3 potential cases of inflammatory illness in children linked to COVID-19

Gov. Jared Polis began his update by reiterating people may carry the virus without signs of symptoms. He said this is why people need to keep up with social distancing and proper hygiene because they would not know if the person they are in contact with has the virus or not.

"It's a lot of mysteries. We're learning more every day," Polis said. He said there are several cases in children here in the state showing multi-inflammatory symptoms linked to the virus. He said it is rarely fatal, but there needs to be clinical intervention.

A health alert was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday to doctors about multisystem inflammatory syndrome* in children, or MIS-C. The rare inflammatory illness has been linked to coronavirus, and has been reported in more than a dozen states across the country.

Polis said this syndrome is rare and that "we're taking this very seriously." Dr. Rachel Herlihy with the Colorado Department of Public Health said the state's healthcare system was alerted last week to be aware of this syndrome and how to report suspect cases to public health. There are three potential cases in Colorado that have been reported to the CDC for confirmation.

Dr. Samuel Dominguez of Children's Hospital Colorado said the new syndrome is "quite rare" and was first discovered a couple weeks ago in Europe. He said there is a lot that is unknown about the syndrome and that the syndrome is a post-response to the virus. He said the children have high fever and high inflammation in their bodies along with "severe abdominal pain," but no complaints of respiratory issues.

Dominguez explained Kawasaki disease, which causes inflammation in blood vessels throughout the body, differs from MIS-C. Toddlers tend to get Kawasaki disease while MIS-C is found among older children between ages 5 and 15. If your child has a high fever for several days or related symptoms, call your medical provider.

Polis praised the Colorado National Guard for their assistance in helping the state "return to normal." In regards to the upcoming holiday weekend, Polis said "this is not a vacation. This is a pandemic."

"And just because we're all tired of living in a heightened threat, that does not make the threat go away," Polis said. He said restlessness and being tired of the situation does not mean you can grow lenient with social distancing or other protective measures. "Taking a quiet time out to remember why we honor this holiday."

Polis said the announcement of the illness serves as "a heads up to parents" and that there is no current indication of it impacting return to schools this fall.

11:30 a.m.| Gov. Polis to give COVID-19 update

Gov. Jared Polis is scheduled to give an update on COVID-19 at 1 p.m. today. News5 will carry this on air, on our Facebook page, and your streaming device.

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9:40 a.m.|Colorado Springs calling on community to "Be the Light" for grads

Colorado Springs and area school districts are calling on residents to turn lights on across the community for one hour to honor the 2020 graduates Thursday. Starting at 8:20 p.m., Colorado Springs encourages residents, businesses, community groups, and facilities to "Be the Light" by turning on flashlights, headlights, stadium lights, and more for one hour to celebrate local graduates. The campaign is an extension of the statewide #BetheLightCO.

8:50 a.m.| CDC releases guidance on reopening America, weeks after reports that document was 'shelved'
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released guidelines on lifting coronavirus-related lockdowns on Wednesday, weeks after reports that the White Houses had shelved such guidance. The CDC guidance was released after a vast majority of states had already begun the process of lifting restrictions and lockdowns.

6 a.m.| Colorado releases draft guidelines for restaurants, bars to begin reopening; feedback sought

Colorado released the draft guidelines for restaurants, bars and cafes to begin reopening Tuesday – which shows the standards those eateries will have to meet in order to begin reopening and focuses on implementing outdoor seating and limiting interactions.

Owners and managers of restaurants and other stakeholders will have through Friday to give feedback to the state on the draft guidelines through a form.

5:40 a.m.| Pandemic precautions at jail explained

News5 took a closer look at two new motions filed by accused murderer Letecia Stauch's defense team, which make certain claims about how the judicial process is being impacted by the pandemic.

One of the motions asked for Stauch's upcoming hearings to be delayed, and the other requested video visitation access or for her to be released on bond. The defense claimed the only option for counsel to advise their client was to physically enter the jail, and the motion said they did not do that for fear of spreading the virus. The motion also asserted the jail cannot guarantee an inmate does not have coronavirus, because not all of them have been tested.

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Get the latest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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.

People who have general questions about coronavirus disease 2019 can call CO HELP at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911 for answers in many languages. Email for answers in English.