Denver Marks One-Year of COVID-19 Pandemic and Response

Published on March 04, 2021

March 5, 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Colorado. Over the past year, the virus has claimed 517 lives in the City and County of Denver, while infecting nearly 60,000 residents and hospitalizing nearly 4,000 individuals, as well as causing financial hardship among countless households and businesses.

“This has been a year like no other in our city’s history. Every day has presented challenges, but as we come to a point that calls us to look back, it is only appropriate to reflect on all we’ve lost,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “The people of Denver have shown a resilience that defines who we are as a community and as a city. We still have much more work ahead of us, but I’m confident we will emerge stronger than ever.”

To mark this solemn anniversary, next week the city will be lighting the tower of the City and County Building white to show our respect and to honor the memories of all those who have died; the following week, the week of March 15, the building will be lit red and white to honor our first responders and essential workers; and the week of March 22, the building will be lit in yellow to symbolize the hope we all share for the end of this pandemic and our journey from rescue to recovery.
Over the past year, city agencies, partner organizations and residents from all walks of life have mobilized to support our neighbors and keep everyone safe and healthy.

Denver County Current Status: 

Numbers represent current data and are subject to change. 
Cumulative Denver positive cases: 59,985
Cumulative Denver hospitalizations due to COVID-19: 3,991
Cumulative Denver deaths from COVID-19: 517
Number of COVID-19 tests administered in the City and County of Denver: 920,075
Denver residents initiating vaccination – 1st Dose received: 113,233
Denver residents completing vaccination – 2nd Dose received: 63,890
Denver’s emergency spending and spend commitments on COVID-19 have totaled $108,208,763 as of February 24, 2021.

Public Health Measures

The city’s top priority throughout the pandemic has been residents’ health and the public health of Denver’s communities. Denver was the first city in Colorado to issue a stay-at-home order and a face-covering mandate.

Vaccination Access

Denver is supporting broad and equitable vaccination access for residents. Through partnerships with the state and community organizations, fixed community vaccination sites are being established at recreation centers and other locations in communities without adequate access to receive vaccines. These sites will be complemented by Denver’s Mobile Vaccination Team, which is vaccinating residents unable to access healthcare or community vaccination sites. Additionally, Denver continues to support vaccination access at existing healthcare locations within communities, including pharmacies and neighborhood clinics.

Denver’s first fixed community vaccination site opened on Feb. 18 at Montbello Recreation Center. Beginning Sunday, March 7, three additional fixed community sites will open to support vaccination of eligible residents within those communities:

  • Bear Valley Library, opening March 7
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center, opening March 9
  • Barnum Recreation Center, opening March 10

These community locations are focused on getting vaccine to eligible individuals living in these neighborhoods. Pre-registration is required at each location. A call center has been established at 720-865-3005 to assist these neighborhoods’ residents who are eligible for a vaccination under current state guidelines. This number is also available for individuals who cannot leave their residence and may be eligible for a mobile vaccination.

The city is providing support for an invitation-only, 800-person vaccine clinic to be held Sunday, March 7, 2021, at the Auraria Campus. Organized by The Health Center at Auraria, in collaboration with Denver Health and COVIDCheck Colorado, the drive-through clinic for pre-registered individuals will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to eligible residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, under-vaccinated zip codes, and Auraria faculty and staff. COVIDCheck Colorado and Denver Health will be doing targeted outreach to eligible individuals in these communities to get them registered to receive the vaccine.

The Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) in partnership with Denver Health and the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment will begin vaccinating individuals incarcerated in Denver’s jails. The vaccination will be distributed to those who are eligible to receive a vaccination per the State’s phased plan. DSD’s and Denver Health’s vaccination plan has been approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and vaccinations will begin as soon as doses are received.

Community Testing

Broad access to COVID-19 testing is an important tool to curbing community spread, and Denver has remained committed to making tests available for all, including those lacking insurance or transportation/mobility. Denver currently offers five community testing sites throughout the city, as well as mobile testing to help ensure all residents are able to access convenient testing. Early in the pandemic, Denver also coordinated the establishment of one of the state’s largest mass testing sites at the time at Ball Arena, which administered nearly 120,000 tests from May 2020 to September 2020. Additionally, the city deployed one of the country’s first mobile testing RVs for those unable to travel to a testing site.

Economic Relief and Recovery

Denver has invested more than $21 million in federal and state funds to provide relief to a number of employers that are vital to our economy, including small businesses, nonprofits, artists, cultural organizations and others. Support has included financial assistance grants, distribution of personal protective equipment kits, technical assistance, utility support, temporary outside expansion resources, and waiving of restaurant renewal licensing fees. In addition, 152 Denver businesses have participated in the State’s Five Star Certification program, implementing extra safety measures in order to accelerate reopening, and 359 businesses have participated in the city’s temporary outdoor dining program.

Housing and Rental Assistance

With more households facing housing instability due to diminished income resulting from the pandemic, Denver’s Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance program has stood in the gap to help keep Denverites housed. The program served more than 2,500 unduplicated households in 2020, a 150 percent increase over 2019. Demand spiked by more than 60 percent in January 2021 over the month prior, and Denver is helping meet this unprecedented need through new program funds totaling nearly $22 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury, as well as more than $13 million in other federal and local funds that have been dedicated since March 2020.

Emergency Sheltering

Together with sheltering partners, the city established two 24-hour shelters for persons experiencing homelessness. Accommodations have included necessary physical distancing plus screening and testing of guests. Denver also secured more than 800 hotel rooms for isolation. These measures have enabled our community to provide life-saving shelter and services for a growing number of people accessing shelter in Denver. The city’s network of shelters now accommodates approximately 2,200 people nightly, representing a nearly 60 percent increase from the 1,350 people the network served per night, on average, during the two weeks prior to the pandemic.

Food Assistance

The number of Denver residents impacted by food insecurity has surged above the pre-pandemic rate of 11 percent of the city’s population, with approximately 25 percent of Denverites currently experiencing a food crisis. Denver has provided nearly $4 million to community-based emergency food providers, pantries and food banks, expanding emergency food, grocery and meal programs for residents. Funds are directed at support for priority, low-income neighborhoods and vulnerable populations most impacted by COVID-19. The city also held 35 weekly food distribution and public health events, providing 410,000 families with food, flu shots, diapers, baby food, school supplies and laptops.

For more information on Denver’s response to COVID-19, visit

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