After a spike, coronavirus cases in Denver are falling. But the city’s public health director says don’t let your guard down.
Coronavirus cases in Denver are dropping nearly two weeks after they began leveling off, but the latest figures show people ages 20 to 29 now make up the highest percentage of cases in the city.
Denver saw a spike in cases in mid-July, which City Public Health Executive Director Bob McDonald attributed to restrictions lifting in May, people practicing less physical distancing, tourists visiting the city and protests.
McDonald stressed that residents continue social distancing and wearing masks.
“What’s really important for people to understand is, do not let down your guard,” he said. “Do not think we are out of the woods yet, because we are not.”
People between the ages of 20 and 29 now represent nearly a quarter (22 percent) of all cases in the city, which is higher than any other age group.
However, the group represents a small number of hospitalizations (6 percent) overall. The second highest group, people ages 30 to 39, makes up 19.2 percent of all cases and 9.7 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The city’s positivity rate is at 1.4 percent for the week of August 9, according to the city’s Department of Public Health & Environment spokesperson Tammy Vigil. That’s a drop from the 4.5 percent positive rate on July 31. But hospitalization rates have not changed significantly over the past two weeks. In an email, Denver Public Health epidemiologist Tori Burket said that over the last two weeks, there was an average of 1.7 new and confirmed hospitalizations each day, down from 2.5 on July 31.
But Burket noted this data shows city and county residents who were hospitalized, not all patients who may end up at Denver hospitals. She said there could be a reporting lag, since a hospital visit may take two to three days to catalog and include in the data set.
The city has closed at least 12 businesses for “egregious” violations of public health orders over the past two weekends.
It shut down Williams Tavern on August 7 and Tetra on August 8 and has closed PT’s Centerfold, PT’s Show Club, Welcome Inn, Your Mom’s House, and Zanzibar.
The most recent closure was Fast Performance, a gym on Leyden Street, which the city closed on Wednesday after it noted 9 out of 10 people inside were not wearing face coverings. The gym had been issued a ticket on Monday because three employees weren’t wearing face coverings.
As of Friday, the city had issued 97 citations for its safer-at-home orders, which include things like the citywide face-covering order.
McDonald said Denver sheriffs are joining the DPHE’s enforcement team as they make their rounds. The teams are making more late-night visits, focusing on venues that tend to be popular among the age group that was partially to blame for the mid-July spike in cases.
“We’ve seen a lot of compliance, but unfortunately, we are still issuing to a number of venues summons to courts for various levels of non-compliance,” McDonald said.
The city now has 10,327 cases of COVID-19 and 420 deaths. American Indian, Black and Latino residents represent a disproportionate amount of all cases.