Apr 20, 2020
DENVER — Mayor Michael B. Hancock today announced several updates to Denver’s response to COVID-19, underscoring the need to continue to stay at home and enjoy the outdoors responsibly. The Mayor and the Emergency Operations Center have begun recovery planning efforts, but physical distancing remains the most effective tool currently to limit the spread of the virus.
The city will work in close coordination with Governor Polis and metro area leadership, including public health directors, to determine whether the health care data we are seeing supports a phased relaxation of the stay-at-home order. Several scenarios for recovery planning are being considered to ensure government services can remain nimble even as the community learns to live with a new normal. Significantly increasing testing for COVID-19 and then testing for anti-bodies, as well as retraining or hiring staff for contact tracing, remain priorities. More detailed information will be provided in the coming days and weeks about how the transition to recovery planning will impact large gatherings, local residents, and the re-opening of businesses.
As the planning is occurring, the city is taking several steps to provide support for people experiencing homelessness, relief for residents and businesses, including over $2 million for local businesses and artists, and the re-opening of public golf courses with new safety measures in place. While the city is intent on re-opening public and economic life in Denver as soon as possible, public health is paramount, and many restrictions will remain in place. Residents should anticipate that the city’s public health order covering restrictions on large gatherings and events, which is set to expire on May 11, will be extended later this week to a date to be determined.
“We won’t be just flipping on the light switch. This is going to be a gradual turning of the dimmer switch with many protective measures that have been put in place remaining in the place until we have better control of COVID-19’s spread,” Mayor Hancock said. “Thank you to everyone who stayed home this weekend – you helped save someone’s life, maybe your own.”
Park Usage and Golf Course Openings:
Denver Parks and Recreation is providing additional information associated with activities in Denver parks to maintain physical distancing and support the health and well-being of park visitors:
Additionally, all city-operated golf courses will reopen to the public on Wednesday, April 22, weather permitting, with restrictions in place to ensure physical distancing, including reserved tee times. More information can be found at www.cityofdenvergolf.com.
Denver will continue to monitor and enforce physical distancing in parks and golf courses. If you visit a park, please visit the one closest to you. Ninety percent of Denver residents live within a 10-minute walk to a park. Find a park near you to explore at www.denvergov.org/maps/map/parks. If you need enforcement in your local park, please call 311.
Business Relief Fund:
Denver Economic Development & Opportunity will begin awarding an initial $2 million in grants today to support many of Denver’s most vulnerable small businesses. This is part of the City and County of Denver’s commitment to identify, develop and implement local programs, including financial and wrap-around services, to support Denver business owners and their employees affected by the city’s public health response to COVID-19. The grants are provided through the Small Businesses Emergency Relief Fund launched in mid-March as one the city’s initiatives to help businesses cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Denver Economic Development & Opportunity will begin notifying recipients this week. The city is partnering with Mile High United Way to release the funds and estimates that the first round of funding will include 200-250 recipients. Grants are going to a variety of businesses, including retail, hospitality, personal care, healthcare, manufacturing and logistics, and ranging in size from sole proprietors to employers of 10 or more. The city estimates that about 60 percent are women- and/or minority-owned businesses. They are located throughout the city and in every council district, with more than half located in neighborhoods identified by the city as most vulnerable to displacement.
To expand emergency relief support to small businesses beyond the $4 million the city is contributing, the city has partnered with the Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) to raise funds. To date, DDP has raised more than $400,000 for the city’s small business relief program through the generous support of the Denver banking and insurance industries as well as the DDP membership. More grants will be disbursed in May. City staff continues to work around the clock with nonprofit, philanthropic and private-industry partners to ensure everyone is cared for during these extraordinary times.
Colorado Artist Relief Fund:
Denver Arts & Venues has finished evaluating 295 applications received for the Colorado Artist Relief Fund helping individual artists impacted by closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants equaling $170,000 will be paid upon completion of processing. The Colorado Artist Relief Fund is a partnership between Denver Arts & Venues, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Colorado Creative Industries and RedLine Contemporary Art Center. Please visit RedLine’s website for more information. The Colorado Artist Relief Fund is currently on pause until funding sources can catch up to the level of need. There will be another announcement when funding applications are once again accepted. Those interested in contributing to this fund can donate here.
Residential Care Facilities:
Over the last two months, the city has issued all 118 facilities in Denver at least three sets of public health orders outlining policies, procedures and protocols to keep their patients and staffs safe and healthy. Denver will be increasing oversight of and support for long-term care facilities. The city will be reassigning DDPHE staff for compliance visits to as many of these facilities as possible over the next two weeks and will be working with them to ensure they are following physical distancing requirements, and we will continue prioritizing these facilities for additional PPE, testing and staff support.
Women’s Auxiliary Shelter at Denver Coliseum:
The new women’s auxiliary shelter at the Denver Coliseum will serve up to 300 women and transgender individuals across the spectrum and operate similarly to the men’s auxiliary shelter; providing screening, medical triage, and access to respite facilities for those exhibiting symptoms or advised to isolate due to medical necessity. All guests will be screened for symptoms at entry. The shelter opens today, Monday, April 20, 2020. The shelter is just one more way the city is providing support for people experiencing homelessness, including over 550 motel and hotel rooms secured by the city and partners to provide protection and respite where needed.