COVID-19 Colorado Update: 35 New Outbreaks in Four Days

A masked Colorado Governor Jared Polis greets Vice President Mike Pence sans face covering.
A masked Colorado Governor Jared Polis greets Vice President Mike Pence sans face covering. Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow via
Mixed signals marked the COVID-19 crisis in Colorado over the weekend of April 18-19. As Vice President Mike Pence visited Colorado Springs for an Air Force Academy graduation ceremony during which the most visible dignitary wearing a mask was Governor Jared Polis, the state experienced an explosion of outbreaks at facilities such as senior centers, adding another 35 to the list in just over four days.

Meanwhile, the state's death toll from the novel coronavirus blasted past 400.

Pence's appearance at the AFA on April 18 was controversial on a number of counts. While colleges across the country have canceled in-person graduation events, the Air Force merely modified its gathering. Family members and friends of cadets weren't allowed to attend, and the graduates were spread out to maintain social distancing. But while the cadets wore face masks, Pence didn't, and neither did the upper-level brass on hand to greet him upon his arrival in Colorado. This decision opened up Pence and company to criticism that they're not walking the talk when it comes to face coverings, even as mask-free demonstrations have taken place around the country, including in Denver, over ongoing stay-at-home orders.

While wearing a mask was the biggest statement Polis made over the weekend, he also signed one new executive order: He extended the income tax deadline for all Colorado taxpayers to July 15, matching the new date established by the Internal Revenue Service. But the governor is expected to speak today, April 20, about planned steps to lift Colorado's stay-at-home order, which currently is set to expire on April 26.

Meanwhile, the latest COVID-19 update from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment,  shared at 4 p.m. on April 19, lists the following totals:
9,730 positive or presumptive positive cases
1,813 hospitalized
56 counties
46,195 people tested
111 outbreaks
422 deaths
Although some models show that the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado has peaked, both the number of cases and deaths continue to rise at a steady clip: Since April 15, the CDPHE had recorded 8,280 positive cases, or an increase of 1,450 in four days. That's an average of just over 362 new cases per day.

The number of deaths went from 357 to 422 over that same span — up 65, or just over sixteen per day. That's about half the pace seen between April 1 and April 2, when the death toll rose by 33, but it's still a concern.

So, too, is the jump in facilities listed with outbreaks (at least two positive cases), which stood at 83 on April 15 and now is 118. The names and specifics about the 35 places added to the outbreak list isn't available yet; the CDPHE is slated to release that data on Wednesday, April 22. So far, deaths at facilities with outbreaks, usually involving seniors and people with pre-existing health conditions, account for just shy of half the total fatalities from the virus in Colorado.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts