Sep 3, 2020
City’s virus indicators look promising, but weekend of gatherings could undo our good work
As we celebrate the American Labor movement this holiday weekend, city leaders ask Denverites to do so safely as we continue our battle against COVID-19.
The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) looks at certain metrics to determine if the epidemic is worsening. Right now, Denver is in good shape thanks to our residents and businesses taking seriously their responsibility to wear masks, follow rules around gatherings, get tested, and isolate if they are COVID-19 positive.
Labor Day is traditionally a day off for many people, but COVID-19 does not take a day off. We realize that people worldwide are experiencing “pandemic fatigue.” However, now more than ever, with flu season upon us compounding risk, it is essential that Denverites stay vigilant and prioritize the health of themselves and everyone around them. Activities that sound low risk, like small backyard barbecues and family gatherings must be treated as an opportunity for virus transmission.
Some tips to stay safe during holiday festivities include gathering outside, never inside—make plans to remain outside if there is bad weather or leave the gathering; wear masks at all times when not eating; keep people who don’t live together separated by at least six feet or more; and have each group bring their own food. The more we interact with each other, the more risk we take in terms of exposure.
“It’s important we not let our guard down right now. Let’s double down on our efforts to stay safe. These protections really are working to limit the spread of the virus, but continued progress is only as good as people’s willingness to follow the restrictions in place to protect public health,” said Bob McDonald, Executive Director of DDPHE and Public Health Administrator. “How we behave over the holiday weekend could determine how the virus impacts us for the rest of 2020.”
The city’s push to assure the community is abiding by public health orders through enforcement helps stem the tide of the virus. As of yesterday, enforcement staff have made 16,162 mask-related contacts, written 136 citations and closed 13 businesses—eight of which have since reopened.
“We need to patronize our Denver restaurants and other businesses,” McDonald said. “But I cannot stress enough how critical it is that our public health mandates are followed to keep everyone healthy.”
Testing continues to be an important part of our fight against the virus. Testing leads to quick identification of cases, quick treatment and immediate isolation to prevent spread of the virus. It helps identify those who have been exposed to the virus so they can take the necessary precautions. Denver continues to remain well above recommendations from the Metro Denver Partnership for Health for the number of tests administered. Even when we transition our focus to community testing sites and away from mass testing like at Pepsi Center, Denver will still be above that threshold.
Data shows certain communities are hotspots for COVID and have disproportionate access to testing. Therefore, a “hyperlocal” approach is most effective in slowing the virus spread.
“Having a greater testing presence in our neighborhoods throughout the community helps us better target outbreaks, which leads to slower spread, and helps us keep more residents safe,” McDonald said.
The city is also helping our most vulnerable through its targeted mobile testing effort with 5,466 tests conducted to date at shelters, assisted living facilities, and private homes, among other locations. Community testing locations will be informed by data about existing inequities in testing, immunization access, hospitalizations and deaths, to address disproportionate health outcomes for historically marginalized communities of color. For more information on COVID-19 testing in Denver, visit our website.