Thursday, May 14, 2020

COVID-19 roundup for May 14: El Paso County approves plan to reopen restaurants

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2020 at 5:50 PM

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El Paso County restaurants are one step closer to reopening for dine-in service after Board of El Paso County Commissioners approved a variance request by the Public Health department.

Restaurants with “common sense safety precautions for patrons, staff, and business owners,” may be permitted to return to some level of normalcy, according to a joint statement by the health department and the county.

Following hospital approval, the plan will be sent to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for further review and final approval.

According to the statement, the health department collaborated with hospitals and medical experts to “create a plan that would allow restaurants to offer in-person dining services, while putting in place processes that will limit the potential for COVID-19 to spread.”

Key takeaways from the variance request, according to the statement, include:

Seating capacity:
· All seating shall be structured so as to ensure a minimum of 6 feet between occupied seats at different tables.
· Groups seated together shall be limited to 10 people and must be from the same household or consistent social group.

Seating processes:

· Facilities are required to take reservations. Walk-in reservations are also accepted.
· Restaurants are encouraged to record and maintain the following information for each table seated for 21 days:
o Name and phone number of one adult in the party
o Table assignment
o Seating and departure times· If maintained, such information shall be provided to Public Health only upon request if Public Health needs to notify others of a new COVID-19 outbreak.

· Seating at bar areas is not permitted unless a minimum of 6-foot distancing between staff and customers can be maintained.

Common-use items and areas:
· Multiple-use condiment containers are prohibited. Only single-use items may be provided.
· Buffets may not be self-serve by customers; only plated or carry-out delivery meals provided to customers by staff are allowed. Buffets must be at least six feet from any dining tables.
· Doorknobs, counter tops, bathrooms, handles, railings and other high-touch areas shall be cleaned and disinfected every 2 hours.

Masks:

· Employees who routinely or consistently come within 6 feet of other employees or customers must wear a cloth face covering over their noses and mouths, unless doing so would inhibit the employee’s health.
· Facilities must make every effort to provide employees with cloth face coverings.

The health department said it will continue to assess the local environment and the data and make changes as needed."

With this in mind, the requirements set forth above may require revision as Public Health learns more from ongoing COVID-19 data produced by changes in restrictions,” the statement said. “Allowing people to gather in a closed space over time carries inherent risk that must be acknowledged by those choosing to participate, despite the protection inferred from the preventive measures above.”

As of 4 p.m. May 13, Colorado had recorded 20,838 cases of COVID-19, with 3,789 hospitalizations and 1,091 deaths — 1,204 of those cases, and 81 deaths have come in El Paso County.

In other COVID-19 news:Gov. Jared Polis met with President Trump Wednesday to request federal funding and additional resources to aid in the state's continuing battle against the pandemic.

Polis said in a statement that he wanted to update the president on “what’s going on in the real world and how he and the federal government can be a better partner in helping our state get the supplies we need to respond” to COVID-19.

“I shared with the president how Coloradans are working together to slow the spread of the virus, wearing masks and taking cautious steps to help our Colorado economy rebound by using data and science every step of the way,” Polis said.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment 
(CDLE) announced Thursday there were nearly 5,700 fewer initial regular unemployment claims the week ending May 9 than there were the week prior.

The decrease marks the fourth straight week the state has seen gradual declines in unemployment.There were 22,483 claims filed the week ending May 9, compared to 28,164 the week ending May 2.

In addition The CDLE reports there were 9,125 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance initial unemployment claims for gig worker or the self-employed filed May 3-May 9. Over the past eight weeks a total of 387,975 regular unemployment initial claims have been filed and a grand total of 451,155 claims including federal PUA benefits.

They report that the top five industries with highest number of claims were: accommodation and food services (4,624 claims); retail trade (4,010); healthcare and social service (3,009); administrative and support and waste management and remediation services (1,944); and arts, entertainment, and recreation (1,550).

The week ending April 4, the CDLE reports that regular unemployment insurance benefits paid out $29.8 million. The week ending May 9, $96 million was paid. The average weekly benefits paid out prior to that totaled $8.7 million.

Comparing the benefit payout to the Great Recession of 2009-2010, CDLE said $19 million in regular unemployment insurance benefits were paid out on an average weekly basis, and $102.8 million in benefits were paid out in May 2009, the previous highest monthly total on record.

Approximately $315 million in regular UI benefits were paid out in April 2020.

All campgrounds in El Paso County can now reopen. El Paso County Health has issued a notice of determination stating all local campgrounds were permitted to reopen beginning Wednesday, with conditions.

To reopen, all private and public campgrounds must comply with applicable provisions of the state’s Public Health Order 20-28, which include:

  • Limiting public and private gatherings to groups of no more than 10;
  • Stating that playgrounds, playground equipment, picnic areas, and pools remain closed and reiterating that individual recreation may occur in groups no larger than 10; and
  • Setting forth required social distancing and disease mitigation protocols for all business types.

The health department also recommends that campgrounds review the guidance for state park campgrounds.

Key campsite guidance includes:
  • Camping by reservation only and at reduced campsite density;All facilities will be cleaned and disinfected per CDC guidelines;
  • Signage to be posted in prominent locations throughout parks enforcing social distancing;
  • Provide educational materials enforcing social distancing;Visitor centers and campground offices will be minimally staffed ensuring social distancing between employees; and
  • Visitor centers will be closed to the public.

Campgrounds are advised to visit the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment's (CDPHE) COVID-19 website frequently to remain aware of any amended public health orders or additional guidance that may be issued. They are responsible for compliance with all applicable public health requirements.

The Colorado State Unified Command Group has received a shipment of the anti-viral drug remdesivir, which has shown promise in speeding recovery times for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

The UCG received the initial shipment of the drug from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the UCG announced in a statement Wednesday.The shipment is enough to treat approximately 100 patients, the UCG said it began distributing the drug this week to eight hospital systems across the state.

According to the statement, supplies are being distributed “in proportion to the number of COVID-19 cases and persons under investigation at each hospital system.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for use of the experimental drug for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, after preliminary results of a randomized controlled clinical trial suggested it could lead to a faster recovery for hospitalized patients. Multiple clinical trials are currently underway or in development.

Gilead Sciences Inc. committed to supplying approximately 607,000 vials of the experimental drug over the next six weeks to treat an estimated 78,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients under the EUA granted by the FDA.

Decisions on who should receive a dose, the UCG said, will be made by physicians and their patients based on the recommendations under the EUA. As required by the EUA, health care providers must carefully document administration of remdesivir and submit a report on all medication errors and all serious adverse events.

Colorado's Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) has partnered with Energize Colorado, Colorado Nonprofit Development Center, to release business templates that offer guidance and information on how businesses can restart operations safely and effectively, Energize Colorado announced Thursday in a statement. The templates were developed in partnership with Kroger, the statement said, and are available in a variety of formats.The templates will be followed by webinars and additional tools over the coming weeks.

Register for the webinar series here.

The City of Colorado Springs is partnering with area school districts in calling on residents, businesses, community groups and facilities to "Be the Light" for area graduates on May 20, at 8:20 p.m. The citywide effort, according to a Thursday statement by the city, “aims to turn lights on across the community for one hour using flashlights, headlights, stadium lights and more to celebrate local graduates.”

The campaign is an extension of the statewide #BetheLightCO campaign. It will be filmed by drone and later shared.

To participate, the city gives the following recommendations, though other creative and visible efforts are also encouraged, though fireworks are prohibited in city limits.

For residents:
  • Leave porch lights on from 8:20-9:20 p.m.Go outside with flashlights, glow sticks, holiday lights or other tools for this hour.
Turn headlights on in parked vehicles outside

For businesses:
  • Consider leaving lights on at your office building from 8:20-9:20 p.m.
  • Encourage employees to turn on porch lights, bring holiday lights outside or turn on the headlights of their parked cars
  • Turn out exterior lights such as those in parking lots

For facility owners:
  • Illuminate field, stadium or any other exterior lighting
  • Activate fleet vehicles

Businesses and residents alike are encouraged to post their activations on social media using the hashtag #BeTheLightCOS along with a congratulatory message to graduates.

The city will participate by lighting up major facilities to include: Memorial Park, Goose Gossage Sports Complex, the Pioneer's Museum, Cottonwood Creek Community Park and Venezia Park. Community partners participating include the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center. the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, Pikes Peak International Raceway, Rocky Mountain Vibes and school district stadiums. 
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