Tuesday, June 16, 2020

COVID-19 update for June 16: Bars, concert venues could open soon

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 5:38 PM

click to enlarge Under the next phase of Colorado's coronavirus response, standard-sized indoor venues may be allowed to open for events with up to 50 people. - JACKIE VITETTA
  • Jackie Vitetta
  • Under the next phase of Colorado's coronavirus response, standard-sized indoor venues may be allowed to open for events with up to 50 people.

Through June 15, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was reporting 29,442 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Statewide, 1,617 people have died with COVID-19, and of those, the deaths of 1,373 people were directly attributed to the disease.

El Paso County Public Health was reporting 1,992 cases and 112 deaths by the afternoon of June 16. The county reported 32 new cases on June 16, representing a jump: The daily average over the previous seven days was 10.29 cases.

Meanwhile, Colorado bars and concert venues — many of which have been closed since March — may be able to open in late June or early July with precautionary measures in place, Gov. Jared Polis announced June 15.

These changes will take place as part of the third major phase of the state's coronavirus response, following "Stay at Home" and "Safer at Home."

The new phase, called "Protect Our Neighbors," will provide more flexibility for individual counties based on the size of local outbreaks in different parts of the state.

Under the state's proposed plan for this phase, all activities (other than mass gatherings with 500 people or more) would be permitted at 50 percent capacity.

"This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we have to find a way to sustainably live with this virus in our communities until there is a cure or vaccine," Polis said in a statement. "If we can continue to wear masks, stay six feet away from others and empower our local public health agencies to meet the needs of their communities, then we can rely on these tools to flatten the potential second wave and reduce future outbreaks."

Counties could enter the "Protect Our Neighbors" phase when they meet:

• "Low disease transmission levels";
• "Local public health agency capacity for testing, case investigation, contact tracing, and outbreak response"; and
• "Hospital ability to meet the needs of all patients and handle the surge in demand for intensive hospital care."

The state expects some counties to begin transitioning into this phase by late June or early July.

Throughout the pandemic, the state health department wants Coloradans to maintain 60 percent social distancing. This means having less than half the number of close interactions, on average, as you normally would.

You can submit comments on the "Protect Our Neighbors" framework online through June 18.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is also seeking feedback on draft guidelines for residential camps and events. These guidelines would apply to counties in the "Safer at Home" phase.

For residential camps, the department proposed that camps should limit group sizes to 25 people outdoors or 10 people indoors, and allow for 6 feet of distance between campers. Family- or buffet-style meals would be prohibited.

CDPHE's draft guidance for indoor events includes limiting attendance at standard-sized venues to 50 people or 25 percent of the venue's capacity, whichever is fewer. Large venues could accommodate up to 75 people, and extra-large venues (larger than 11,300 square feet) could allow 100 people at events.

Under the draft guidance for outdoor events, CDPHE proposes increasing those limits — up to 50 people or 50 percent capacity for standard venues, 125 people for large venues and 175 people for extra-large venues.

Both indoor and outdoor venues would be required to ensure 6 feet of distance between people lined up at entrances and exits.

People interested in submitting feedback on any of the draft guidance should do so by 5 p.m. June 17.

CDPHE released a "risks and benefits" guide to help people decide whether to engage in certain activities during the coronavirus pandemic.

“People need to be informed, then use their judgement to make individual decisions about what works best for them, their household members, and their communities,” state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said in a statement from CDPHE. “We really need everyone’s help to contain COVID-19 in Colorado. We all need to have fewer interactions with fewer people while maintaining social distancing.”

According to the guide, camping outside or visiting a vacation home poses low risks of virus transmission. CDPHE recommends camping or vacationing with members of your own household.

On the opposite end, CDPHE classifies going to bars and attending a protest among "high-risk" activities. People who participate in these activities are encouraged to wear a mask whenever possible.

Those who face extra risks of experiencing serious symptoms from COVID-19 (including people older than 65, those with chronic lung disease and the immunocompromised) should "aim to limit in-person interactions with others as much as they can, and carefully consider the risks and benefits of activities in which they choose to participate," CDPHE's statement says. 

CDPHE says outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities, and smaller group sizes are also less risky. Doing an activity for a shorter amount of time, wearing a face mask and keeping 6 feet away from other participants can help decrease the risk of virus transmission.

The Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center and El Paso County Public Health will host a webinar for small businesses on June 19 at 11:30 p.m. The session will cover "contact tracing and best practices for data collection to help keep your and your customer's data secure."

The Fourth Judicial District will resume jury trials starting the week of July 6. It's the first judicial district in the state to seek and receive approval to do so by the Colorado Supreme Court, according to a statement from the Colorado Judicial Department.

"Trial by jury is the cornerstone of our judicial system, and there is no way to fairly and effectively effect justice without it,” Fourth Judicial District Chief Judge Bain said in a statement. “With the thoughtful planning we have put in place in consultation with our local health experts, I am confident we can conduct these trials in a safe and efficient manner for everyone involved.”

People who receive a jury summons but are at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been in direct contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the two weeks before they're scheduled to appear are asked to contact the jury commissioner to reschedule their jury service.

Everyone involved in jury trials at the courthouse must wear masks — except the judge, who isn't required to wear a mask when they're 6 feet away from others in the courtroom.

The Colorado Legislature passed Senate Bill 205, the "Healthy Families and Workplaces Act," on June 15. The bill — sponsored by Sens. Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder, and Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, along with Reps. KC Becker, D-Boulder, and Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton — requires employers to provide employees with paid sick leave for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic through the end of the year, as specified in federal coronavirus relief legislation.

But the bill also goes further: It requires all employers to keep providing paid sick leave to their employees starting Jan. 1, 2021, accrued at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked, up to 48 total hours of paid sick leave.

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