Update: The latest on COVID-19 in Colorado .

University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora

105 Views

        

Workers ride the escalator at the Colorado Convention Center, which is being turned into an alternative care site for COVID-19 patients on April 14. (Photo by Evan Semón)
Workers ride the escalator at the Colorado Convention Center, which is being turned into an alternative care site for COVID-19 patients on April 14. (Photo by Evan Semón)

This story was originally published on March 5 and will be updated daily. For earlier updates during the month of March, visit this page

April 26, 4:40 p.m. update:

Here are some of the latest numbers on COVID-19 in Colorado from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to CDPHE, this summary only includes data through April 25 and does not reflect cases since then.

  • 13,441 cases*
  • 2,438 hospitalized
  • 57 counties
  • 63,274 tested**
  • 143 outbreaks
  • 680 deaths***

*According to CDPHE: “Positive cases include people who tested positive, as well as cases where epidemiological investigation has determined that there is a high likelihood that an untested individual has COVID-19 due to their symptoms and close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.”

**The total number of people tested may not include all negative results.

***You may notice that the cumulative number of deaths went from 674 on April 24th, to 672 on April 25th. This is due to the fact that a portion of “probable deaths” gathered from death certificate data were entered as duplicates. There were about 29 duplicates and they have been removed today.

April 25, 4:30 p.m. update: 

If you’re thinking about getting a haircut Monday, remember more than half the state’s population will be under local stay-at-home orders despite Gov. Jared Polis’s plan to lift his. 

So far, Denver, Boulder, Jefferson, Arapahoe and Adams counties have decided to lift stay-at-home orders on May 8. And then there’s Weld County, where county commissions plan to defy the governor’s orders next week and try to open up businesses more swiftly. State health officials are doing targeted testing in Weld County through Tuesday. More on that below. 

Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement Saturday: “Colorado has a proud tradition of responsible local control and what works for Denver that has had over 2,300 cases, with the number of positive cases increasing from the day before, may not be the same solution for Bent County that has zero detected cases so far. I applaud the leadership of areas of our state that have extended their stay at home orders to thoughtfully take the time needed to implement and enforce safer at home safety regulations. I also applaud the thoughtful work in several counties that are fortunate enough to be able to reduce restrictions thanks to their work in addressing the public health situation. All Coloradans are united in our shared effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” 

Eagle County this week received permission from the state to lift its stay-at-home order, open recreation facilities and allow gatherings of 10 or fewer people. Mesa, Cuter and Fremont counties have also requested exemptions to the statewide orders. 

The Emergency Operations Center and Department of Public Health and Environment, with help from the Colorado National Guard and the Colorado State Patrol, say they are testing residents in Weld County through Tuesday at Island Grove Park starting at 10 a.m. each day and ending when 300 samples have been collected. State health officials say testing is open to any Weld County resident with symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, coughing, shortness of breath). Asymptomatic individuals will not be tested, health officials said.

April 25, 4:06 p.m. update:

Here are some of the latest numbers on COVID-19 in Colorado from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to CDPHE, this summary only includes data through April 24 and does not reflect cases since then.

  • 12,968 cases*
  • 2,410 hospitalized
  • 57 counties
  • 59,791 tested**
  • 141 outbreaks
  • 672 deaths

*According to CDPHE: “Positive cases include people who tested positive, as well as cases where epidemiological investigation has determined that there is a high likelihood that an untested individual has COVID-19 due to their symptoms and close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.”

**The total number of people tested may not include all negative results.

April 24, 4:15 p.m. update:

Here are some of the latest numbers on COVID-19 in Colorado from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to CDPHE, this summary only includes data through April 23 and does not reflect cases since then.

  • 12,256 cases*
  • 2,366 hospitalized
  • 56 counties
  • 56,789 tested**
  • 134 outbreaks
  • 674 deaths

*According to CDPHE: “Positive cases include people who tested positive, as well as cases where epidemiological investigation has determined that there is a high likelihood that an untested individual has COVID-19 due to their symptoms and close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.”

**The total number of people tested may not include all negative results.

April 24, 2:40 p.m. update: 

On Friday afternoon, DOC said it tested 473 inmates at Sterling on Wednesday for COVID-19. As of Friday afternoon, 255 results have been returned: 138 inmates tested positive and 104 tested negative.

The prison has been on lockdown since April 14, meaning inmates are confined to their cells except to use the restroom or shower. Inmates in Sterling are also not allowed to make phone calls to family during the lockdown in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Colorado Independent spoke to a woman whose husband is locked up there and she doesn’t know if he’s among those who have tested positive.

In other news, progressive groups, including the Colorado Latino Forum and 9to5 Colorado, are calling on Chief Justice Coats to order a suspension in evictions and foreclosures during the pandemic. Many courts have stopped issuing eviction orders, but those orders could begin again in the coming days or weeks. 

“During this global pandemic, remaining housed has become vital in fighting the spread of this disease,” the letter states. 

For those who own a home, Attorney General Phil Weiser is calling on the Federal Housing Finance Administration and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide some financial relief for people having trouble making payments on their federally-backed mortgages.

Weiser also signed onto a letter urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to more strictly enforce credit reporting to prevent fraud. The attorney general also asked the U.S. Department of the Treasury to take steps to protect stimulus payments from being garnished by collection agencies or creditors. 

“There is a risk that stimulus payments may be garnished by creditors or debt collectors, which would undermine the purpose of the CARES Act. These stimulus checks are intended to help hard-working Americans afloat and they should not be subject to garnishment,” Weiser said in a statement.

Lastly, Gov. Jared Polis, who is preparing to lift his stay-at-home order Monday, gave a warning to Weld County, where a county commissioner has said he wants to open businesses faster than allowed under the governor’s public health orders: 

“They do not have any kind of unilateral ability to jeopardize the health of residents,” Polis told reporters during a virtual news conference on Friday.

April 24, 11:15 a.m. update:

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Friday confirmed the city’s plan to extend its stay-at-home order until May 8. 

“While we are flattening the epicurve, Denver-specific metrics of new infections, hospitalization rates and mortality suggest that we are not completely out of the woods,” Hancock said

Extending the order to May 8 will give the city more time to scale up testing, infection tracing and offer guidance to residents and businesses for reopening, he said. Bob McDonald, executive director of Denver’s public health department, said in the next couple of weeks Denver will be training 100 more workers to handle testing. 

When asked if he’s concerned about public confusion from differing expiration dates for the statewide order and the city’s, Hancock said he’s working with the city attorney’s office to set up a system to handle residents’ questions.

Hancock was also asked by a reporter if he is using different modeling than Gov. Jared Polis, who said on Wednesday that extending the statewide order won’t prevent an infection spike and instead will inflict more economic pain. Hancock said the city isn’t using different modeling and is extending the order to ensure Denver has enough time to meet its goals of more testing, tracing and providing concrete plans to open for residents. Polis has said the state is working to scale up testing, but has been adamant that it’s one part of a multi-pronged approach that also includes contact tracing, wearing masks, social distancing and protecting at-risk people like seniors. 

Hancock said he is considering a mandate for all residents to wear masks when outdoors, but for now, he said he’s asking all Denverites to wear masks whenever they go out. 

As Polis plans to lift his stay-at-home order on Monday, counties across the state are keeping theirs in place. In addition to Denver, the Tri-County Health Department, which has public health jurisdiction over Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, is considering an extension. Jefferson County also extended its stay-at-home order to May 8 on Friday. 

Meanwhile, in Weld County, which has the third highest number of deaths in the state, a county commissioner said the county plans to open business across the board on Monday, defying the governor’s public health orders for a gradual reopening. The Greeley beef packing plant, where 102 people have tested positive and four people have died of COVID-19, is set to reopen today even after promised testing for employees was all but abandoned. 

A statement from Weld County commissioners issued Friday morning read:

Weld County Government is not opening any businesses, just as Weld County Government did not close any businesses. That said, each commissioner has received comments from constituents struggling to make ends meet, pay their bills, and take care of their families who have said they are going to open their businesses. So, Weld County Government took the proactive response of preparing best practices and guidance that could be used as business owners look to reopen – whenever they feel comfortable to do so. An informed public is a strong public.

The same preventative measures need to be heeded – we’ve said that. Expectations need to be managed – we’re doing that. What we aren’t going to do is pick winners and losers as to who gets to restart their livelihoods.

And at the end of the day, everyone has freedoms: freedom to stay home, freedom to go out, and freedom to support whatever business they want to support.

April 23, 5:10 p.m. update:

As Colorado continues to scramble to secure personal protective equipment for medical workers on the front line of the coronavirus battle, the state on Thursday received a machine that can sanitize up to 80,000 N95 masks per day.

The machine, manufactured by Ohio-based Battelle, uses hydrogen peroxide vapor that kills the coronavirus. N95 masks can be reused safely up to 20 times after disinfection, according to Battelle. Similar machines have already been deployed in Ohio, New York, Washington State, Illinois and Boston. 

The machine is currently being installed at the Adams County Fairgrounds and the state is working to secure another location for a second decontamination machine. 

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, all healthcare personnel are eligible for the free N95 decontamination, including emergency personnel, nurses, doctors, technicians, dentists and staff not directly involved in patient care, but who could be exposed to the coronavirus in a healthcare setting. Additionally, non-medical personnel participating in emergency response due to COVID-19 also qualify as a healthcare professional under the Battelle Emergency Use Authorization.

How to sign up:

  • To get N95 respirators cleaned, health care providers must first fill out an enrollment form at battelle.org/decon
  • Battelle will return an email with links to the enrollment contract, instructions and the Battelle point of contact.
  • The enrollee will be given a three-digit code, which must be written on the respirators with a permanent marker.
  • The respirators need to be unsoiled, free of blood, mucus, makeup, lip balm, etc. Place all masks into a single plastic bag and tie off the bag when it is full. Any soiled masks will be thrown out. The bag must be placed into a second plastic bag that should be wiped down with disinfectant. 
  • The respirators must be placed into a shipping box and labeled with the three-digit code and a biohazard sticker.
  • The enrollee contacts a shipper to coordinate pickup and delivery. 

Battelle’s guide for the entire process can be found here.

April 23, 4:05 p.m. update: 

Here are some of the latest numbers on COVID-19 in Colorado from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to CDPHE, this summary only includes data through April 22 and does not reflect cases since then.

  • 11,262 cases*
  • 2,237 hospitalized
  • 56 counties
  • 52,324 tested**
  • 130 outbreaks
  • 552 deaths

*According to CDPHE: “Positive cases include people who tested positive, as well as cases where epidemiological investigation has determined that there is a high likelihood that an untested individual has COVID-19 due to their symptoms and close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.”

**The total number of people tested may not include all negative results.

April 23, 1:15 p.m. update: 

Last week, Colorado saw more than 67,000 additional unemployment claims, down by about 33% from the previous week’s record 100,000 claims. 

That puts the state’s total since mid-March at nearly 300,000. That’s about 10% of Colorado’s February workforce who have filed for benefits with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). 

Ryan Gedney, senior economist with CDLE, said the drop can be attributed to claims leveling off after the 100,000 spike two weeks ago. That spike, he said, was probably due to CDLE catching up on its backlog. Claims have averaged about 60,000 per week for the last month. 

National numbers also dropped slightly, with about 4.4 million claims last week compared to 5.25 million the week before. A total of 26.4 million workers have filed for unemployment in a little over a month, about 15% of the national workforce.

This week’s unemployment claims are not available yet, but will include applications from gig workers and independent contractors who, from when they could start filing on Monday through Wednesday, filed more than 50,000 applications. 

Independent contractors file through a separate system, and only if they did not receive more than $2,500 in paychecks from a regular employer in the past 18 months. If that is the case, they must go through the regular system for unemployment claims. 

Workers who are approved and can request payments are typically paid within three days, according to Cher Haavind, deputy director of CDLE. But, because the department received 95,000 benefit requests on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the most amount of requests in its history, payments have been delayed, Haavind said. That combined with the department beginning to process an additional $600 per week in federal stimulus payments, means payments should be arriving on Thursday and Friday for those claimants, she said. 

Haavind also offered some additional steps filers can take to be paid more quickly. If possible, switch payments to direct deposit instead of a bank-issued debit card, she said. Gig workers and independent contractors’ claims automatically default to debit card payments, so changing that preference will ensure quicker payments. Applications also ask for an Experian check, which is used for verification not checking credit. If people don’t opt-in to the Experian check, their payments will be delayed, Haavind said. 

She also said applicants should provide CDLE their email for smoother communication.

The benefits independent contractors and gig workers receive, as well as the extra $600 per week in stimulus payments, come from the federal government, which CDLE expects will pay out $200 million this week to claimants. 

Regular unemployment claims are paid out of the state’s unemployment trust fund, which, before the coronavirus outbreak, had $1.1 billion. As of Wednesday, Gedney said, the fund had a little over $900 million in funds. He said the department hasn’t yet projected when the fund will run dry. If it does, officials have said previously that the state can borrow from the federal government to continue making benefit payments. 

April 23, 12:19 p.m. update: 

Colorado Democrats are condemning racist and hateful language during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a comment by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville comparing Gov. Jared Polis’s public health orders to that of the Nazi secret police. 

During a news conference on Thursday, state House and Senate Democrats said they have also heard of a rise in hateful language from their constituents, including comments made against Asian Americans to “go back to their county.” 

All but a handful of Democrats have already signed onto a letter condemning the language. They hope that Republicans will sign the letter, too. 

“We recognize the difficult position it puts them in because we are calling out a statement by their minority leader,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, a Democrat from Commerce City. 

They should be upstanders, she said. 

“Today we know that just watching it happen and not taking responsibility to stand up is what leads to the proliferation of hatred and violent acts of murder,” Michaelson Jenet said. 

The Democrats are not calling on Neville to resign. Instead, they want a sincere apology.

House and Senate Democrats condemned hateful language during the COVID-19 pandemic on April 23, 2020. (Screenshot during Zoom call)

April 22, 4:15 p.m. update:

Here are some of the latest numbers on COVID-19 in Colorado from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to CDPHE, this summary only includes data through April 21 and does not reflect cases since then.

  • 10,878 cases*
  • 2,123 hospitalized
  • 56 counties
  • 50,645 tested**
  • 123 outbreaks
  • 508 deaths

*According to CDPHE: “Positive cases include people who tested positive, as well as cases where epidemiological investigation has determined that there is a high likelihood that an untested individual has COVID-19 due to their symptoms and close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.”

**The total number of people tested may not include all negative results.

April 22, 4:50 p.m. update: 

About 64% of COVID-19-related deaths in Colorado have occurred among residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

There are 323 people who were living in these facilities and who have died with probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19, the data shows.

The outbreak in the state’s prison system is growing, too. There are now 8 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Sterling prison, which is now on lockdown. There are also 33 confirmed cases among residents and staff in Colorado’s halfway houses, according to the Division of Criminal Justice.

April 22, 3:40 p.m. update: 

Here are some highlights from today’s press conference with Gov. Jared Polis: 

  • Polis read a tweet calling on him to keep salons closed as he has for bars and restaurants. In response, he said, salons are different. They allow for “one-on-one” contact between clients and patients, as opposed to larger groups of people mixing together like at restaurants or bars, he said. “It’s a mathematical thing,” he said.  
  • “You’re still obsessed with testing,” Polis told a reporter. He said he has not abandoned testing. In fact, he said, an order of about 150,000 testing kits is on its way to Colorado. Testing, he said, is one part of a multi-pronged approach to dealing with the pandemic after he lifts his stay-at-home order that includes testing, containment, social distancing and mask-wearing. The state’s models show a 5% increase in testing each week after the state lifts the stay-at-home order, he said. And, he reiterated, “No amount of testing is enough to reopen the state if that’s all you’re doing.” 
  • He said the keeping the stay-at-home order in place for two to four weeks would be negligible in the severity of the peak, citing state models. “The peak is essentially the same, it’s just a little bit later. That means if we were to maintain stay-at-home two weeks, four weeks, six weeks longer, it doesn’t matter. It inflicts very severe economic pain on people and also hurts the will and physiological ability of the people of Colorado to be in this for the long haul in exchange for really no reductions in the number of ICU beds that we need at the peak of the crisis,” he said.

April 21, 4:05 p.m. update: 

Here are some of the latest numbers on COVID-19 in Colorado from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to CDPHE, this summary only includes data through April 20 and does not reflect cases since then.

  • 10,447 cases*
  • 2,003 hospitalized
  • 56 counties
  • 48,704 tested**
  • 119 outbreaks
  • 486 deaths

*According to CDPHE: “Positive cases include people who tested positive, as well as cases where epidemiological investigation has determined that there is a high likelihood that an untested individual has COVID-19 due to their symptoms and close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.”

**The total number of people tested may not include all negative results.

April 21, 10:05 a.m. update: 

Sunday’s protest of the governor’s stay-at-home order was safe, according to all 24 of Colorado’s House Republicans.

“Protesters found cleaver ways to socially distance and protest the closing on nonessential businesses. If Coloradans can protest safely, please rest assured they can return to work safely,” an April 20 letter to the governor states.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the state Capitol on Sunday. Some drove around in cars and trucks. Among those on foot, most did not wear masks. Many shook hands. And few were more than six feet apart, which is the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Libertarian Party of Colorado helped organize the event on Facebook.

April 20, 6:00 p.m. update:

Gov. Jared Polis on Monday all but committed to lifting the stay-at-home order on April 27, earlier than many other states headed by Democratic and Republican governors alike. 

Eagle County, where local health officials say the situation is improving, has already submitted a request to the governor to lift its stay-at-home order. Polis said he plans to approve the request as soon as Thursday. 

“It’s kind of showing where we are heading as the rest of the state,” Polis said. But, he added, the hard part is just beginning. Coloradans, he said, will have to learn to live with the coronavirus for a while. “We need to think about how we run the marathon rather than the sprint.” 

Polis, who has a libertatian bent, is placing a bet on Coloradans and businesses to comply with the more nuanced guidance in the coming weeks. “Now it enters into the time of personal responsibility and choices,” he said.

After the stay-at-home order is lifted, social distancing requirements will still be enforced, health officials say, including limits of gathering of no more than 10 people. Some retail businesses will be able to reopen with the proper precautions once the order ends, Polis said. Polis personally hopes to begin reopening restaurants on May 15. 

For older Coloradans in their 70s and 80s, Polis said they will need to behave in May much like they did in April. 

Testing needs to be higher than it is, the governor said, but that alone won’t eradicate the virus. The state still needs to maintain social distancing and implement tracking of infections.

“There’s another shortcoming of testing… at least 25% to 50%, and possibly many more, of people who contract COVID are asymptomatic,” Polis said.

It would be impossible to test every asymptomatic person, he said, so instead the state is focused on testing symptomatic and at-risk groups in places like nursing homes.

The announcement comes after Colorado health officials said on Monday they estimate between 65,000 and 75,000 Coloradans have been infected by the coronavirus. The official count is about 10,000 but reflects a lack of adequate testing and does not include asymptomatic people with the disease. 

Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a press call on Monday officials take into account hospitalizations, infection rates and other data to determine the actual number of infected.

Health experts say adequate testing is needed to be able to control the disease when restrictions are lifted. And it appears there is not as much testing as the state had hoped for earlier this month. 

Scott Bookman, CDPHE incident commander for COVID-19, said on April 4 that the state hoped to  have 3,500 tests per day by mid-April and 5,000 tests per day by May. The state is currently testing between 1,000 and 2,000 people per week, due to shortages of supplies, Herlihy said. 

Officials say tracking cases and interactions is just as important as testing in containing infection rates. Jill Hansaker Ryan, executive director of CDPHE, said the state is working to improve tracking technology and use volunteers and workers to help trace infections. 

Social distancing alone is not sufficient moving forward, CDPHE officials said. Additional strategies need to be implemented, with each addition lowering the rate of infections and increasing hospitals’ chances of maintaining capacity. The strategies include greater distancing for Coloradans older than 65, widespread use of masks and case detection and isolation.

If Coloradans maintain 55% to 65% social distancing moving forward, plus the additional precautions, hospitals will be able to meet the demand, health officials said. The state has about 2,000 ICU beds. Currently, Coloradans are practicing between 70 to 80% social distancing. 

In other state news, U.S. Rep. Jason Crow on Monday wrote a letter to ICE requesting that the agency report COVID-19 tests for contract staffers and personnel who work at detention facilities like the one in Aurora. ICE has reported two positive COVID-19 cases among staff at the Aurora facility.

But that number does not include the three GEO Group employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who work at the facility, Crow said.

“We believe that this oversight amounts to underreporting. All employees, regardless of whether employees in question receive their paycheck from ICE or a private contractor, should be reported. Family members of those in custody and the general populations in neighboring communities should be aware of all potential COVID-19 exposure in detention facilities,” Crow wrote.

April 20, 5:20 p.m. update: 

Here are some of the latest numbers on COVID-19 in Colorado from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to CDPHE, this summary only includes data through April 19 and does not reflect cases since then.

  • 10,106 cases*
  • 1,880 hospitalized
  • 56 counties
  • 47,466 people tested**
  • 449 deaths
  • 113 outbreaks

*According to CDPHE: “Positive cases include people who tested positive, as well as cases where epidemiological investigation has determined that there is a high likelihood that an untested individual has COVID-19 due to their symptoms and close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.”

**The total number of people tested may not include all negative results.

April 20, 1:50 p.m. update:

Dever Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday said the city is making progress combatting the coronavirus, but still needs to look at the data and increase testing before restrictions can be lifted. 

He said about 80% of all hospital beds are available, a third of ICU beds are open and nearly two thirds of ventilators are available for use in the city. And new hospital admissions seem to be slowing, he said. 

As the potential end-dates of Colorado’s and Denver’s stay-at-home orders approach, he said, the city is in contact with Gov. Jared Polis, health officials and other metropolitan area leaders to determine if the stay-at-home order can be lifted. 

“We still have a lot of work to do over the next 7-10 days,” Hancock said.

Before Denver can begin relaxing restrictions, testing needs to be increased and staff needs to be retrained or hired to trace infections, he said. 

Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, said the testing rate needs to be at 1,500 to 2,000 per week in the city. Testing last week was in the hundreds, McDonald said, which goes up and down based on the availability of testing equipment. 

The city could loosen restrictions before that ideal testing level is reached, Hancock said, but officials will make that determination closer to the end date of the order. 

The mayor said Denver’s restrictions on dine-in service at bars and restaurants will be extended past May 11. “You can bet on that,” he said. How the restrictions look moving forward is subject to change, Hancock said, as the city determines how to ease into opening those businesses. 

Hancock said Denver residents should expect the ban on large public gatherings to remain in place for the “foreseeable future.” 

Also, Hancock announced that the women’s shelter at the Denver Coliseum will begin accepting entrants on Monday afternoon, with the ability to house up to 400 residents. 

As of Wednesday, all city operated golf courses will reopen to the public, but with strict distancing requirements, Hancock said. 

The first $2 million of the business relief fund will be issued on Monday, Hancock announced. The city estimates that the funding will support between 200 and 250 small businesses, he said.

April 19, 4:15 p.m. update: 

About 300 people rallied outside the state Capitol on Sunday to protest Gov. Jared Polis’s stay-at-home and social distancing orders, which are designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, a contagious disease that has already killed at least 422 people in Colorado since March 13. 

The crowd of mostly middle-aged white men and women carried flags and signs, shaking hands and giving hugs. Most were not wearing masks or gloves. People circled the state Capitol in their trucks and SUVs for hours, blasting their horns and waving American flags. At one point, people began chanting “U.S.A.” People were also campaigning for President Donald Trump, who has goaded such rallies across the country. 

The rally brought together a range of people who defy scientific consensus, from anti-vaxxers to supporters of the QAnon, a conspiracy theory that Washington elites are working against Trump. 

“I stand with all these people and their positions. I see anti-vaxxers. I know there’s a lot of truthers out here. I stand with all of them,” said Micheal Mullens, who was promoting QAnon. 

About 300 people rallied outside the state Capitol on April 19, 2020 to protest Gov. Jared Polis’s stay-at-home and social distancing orders. (Photo by John Herrick)

About 300 people rallied outside the state Capitol on April 19, 2020 to protest Gov. Jared Polis’s stay-at-home and social distancing orders. (Photo by John Herrick)

There were some individual counter-protesters at the rally. “Fuck all you socialist fuckers,” one person said to protesters who drove by with their middle finger out their window. One protester said the group is killing people. They were laughed at and shrugged off. One person who lived in the area and who could hear the horns and, shouting from afar, said, “it’s just sad.”

About 300 people rallied outside the state Capitol on April 19, 2020 to protest Gov. Jared Polis’s stay-at-home and social distancing orders. (Photo by John Herrick)

The Colorado Libertarian Party and others organized the so-called Operation Gridlock protest. Tom Campbell, a 50-year-old from Denver, said he heard about the event on Facebook.  

“This has gone on too long,” Campbell said while smoking a cigarette at the edge of the rally. 

A few hundred people gather at State Capitol to protest COVID-19 stay-at-home order Sunday April 19, 2020. photos by Evan Semón Photography

A few hundred people gather at State Capitol to protest the COVID-19 stay-at-home order Sunday, April 19, 2020. (Photo by Evan Semón)

Campbell said he doesn’t believe the public health models showing how many people could die from COVID-19. In Colorado, state models created with the University of Colorado predict that tens of thousands of people would have died had the state did nothing to restrict travel and social gatherings. According to state health officials, there are 9,433 diagnosed cases in Colorado and 1,797 people hospitalized due to COVID-19. 

“It doesn’t make sense. The numbers are overblown,” Campbell said. “I just don’t buy it. It’s probably out here but it’s just like the flu. They talk about mandatory vaccines. That ain’t happening. We’ll lose our rights.”   

While data is limited, COVID-19 may be more than 10 times deadlier than the flu. Some chanted “fuck that doctor,” in reference to Anthony Fauci, the director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has attended coronavirus White House briefings. 

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, a Republican from Castle Rock who has compared Polis’s stay-at-home order to that of the Nazi secret police, was at the rally shaking hands and hugging people. He said he was handing out masks that his wife made. 

Neville said he doesn’t think people will get sick. And he said he’s had no role in helping organize the event.

“I didn’t decide (to come) until after my church service this morning,” Neville said. “I’m immunocompromised myself. That’s part of the reason why I’m wearing a mask. I’ll be wise. I won’t touch my face. I’ll make sure I’m using hand sanitizer. The main concern here is for the person who cuts my hair. It’s a minor inconvenience for me not to have a hair cut. But for the person who cuts my hair, it’s a major inconvenience to not have a paycheck. We’re at a breaking point now.”

A few hundred people gather at State Capitol to protest COVID-19 stay-at-home order Sunday April 19, 2020. (Photo by Evan Semón)

Here are some of the latest numbers on COVID-19 in Colorado from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to CDPHE, this summary only includes data through April 17 and does not reflect cases since then.

  • 9,730 cases*
  • 1,813 hospitalized
  • 56 counties
  • 46,195 people tested**
  • 422 deaths
  • 111 outbreaks

*According to CDPHE: “Positive cases include people who tested positive, as well as cases where epidemiological investigation has determined that there is a high likelihood that an untested individual has COVID-19 due to their symptoms and close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.”

**The total number of people tested may not include all negative results.

April 18, 4:05 p.m. update:

Here are some of the latest numbers on COVID-19 in Colorado from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to CDPHE, this summary only includes data through April 17 and does not reflect cases since then.

9,433 cases*
1,797 hospitalized
56 counties
44,606 people tested**
411 deaths
107 outbreaks

*According to CDPHE: “Positive cases include people who tested positive, as well as cases where epidemiological investigation has determined that there is a high likelihood that an untested individual has COVID-19 due to their symptoms and close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.”

*