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Eight months into the pan­dem­ic, COVID-19 is spread­ing uncon­trolled across Col­orado, spark­ing a third wave that first brought surg­ing case num­bers, then record leaps in hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and, now, the threat that the state’s inten­sive-care units will be flood­ed in the com­ing weeks.

As much of the Den­ver region moves to Lev­el Red on the state’s dial of coro­n­avirus restric­tions, Den­ver Post health reporters Jes­si­ca Sea­man and Meg Wingert­er exam­ined the state of Colorado’s hos­pi­tals, inter­view­ing more than a dozen doc­tors, nurs­es and oth­er health care work­ers about the toll this lat­est spike on COVID-19 is tak­ing.

What Meg and Jes­si­ca found includ­ed hos­pi­tals run­ning short on beds and, even more dis­con­cert­ing­ly, staff, as the pandemic’s third wave hits hard­er than even the first surge last spring. Hos­pi­tals now are treat­ing COVID-19 patients on top of every­thing else they nor­mal­ly see, since, unlike in the spring, peo­ple no longer are avoid­ing med­ical treat­ment out of fear of the virus. There’s also no back­up for belea­guered health care work­ers, as a nation­wide surge means hos­pi­tals are stressed every­where, and everyone’s com­pet­ing for finite resources.

On top of that, more med­ical pro­fes­sion­als are con­tract­ing the virus them­selves — and not nec­es­sar­i­ly from work. The coro­n­avirus is spread­ing so wide­ly in the com­mu­ni­ty that, one doc­tor said, “I feel like it’s knock­ing on our win­dows and doors.”

We hope you’ll take time to read this impor­tant look at the state of the pan­dem­ic in Col­orado.

— Matt Sebas­t­ian, The Den­ver Post 

Coronavirus pandemic’s third wave threatens to flood Colorado hospitals

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AAron Ontiveroz, The Den­ver Post

Dr. Amy Olson, med­ical direc­tor of the Pul­monary Phys­i­ol­o­gy Unit, gears up while wear­ing a Con­trolled Air Puri­fy­ing Res­pi­ra­tor hel­met at Nation­al Jew­ish Health on Thurs­day, Nov. 19, 2020.

Five don’t‑miss stories from last week

Colorado moving Denver, 14 other counties to Level Red in latest bid to avoid COVID-19 lockdown

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Hyoung Chang, The Den­ver Post

Col­orado Gov. Jared Polis, front, Den­ver May­or Michael Han­cock, right, and offi­cials announced Den­ver and a num­ber of oth­er Col­orado coun­ties will be moved to Lev­el Red on a new­ly revamped ver­sion of the state’s col­or-cod­ed COVID-19 dial at Boettch­er Man­sion in Den­ver, Col­orado on Tues­day. Nov. 17, 2020.

Lev­el Red used to be the high­est lev­el on Colorado’s dial and would have trig­gered a stay-at-home order, but state offi­cials have pushed back the thresh­old that coun­ties need to qual­i­fy for a lock­down by adding an even high­er sta­tus — Lev­el Pur­ple — that Polis said won’t be invoked unless hos­pi­tals are over­flow­ing.

“We must act now to save lives,” the gov­er­nor said. “We must act now to avoid a shut­down or lock­down.” Read More…

What restrictions come with each level of Colorado’s color-coded COVID-19 dial? Here’s an updated breakdown

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Here is the Col­orado Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health and Environment’s lat­est break­down of what restric­tions come with each lev­el of Colorado’s col­or-cod­ed COVID dial, includ­ing Lev­el Red — where 15 coun­ties includ­ing Den­ver are head­ed Fri­day — and the brand-new Lev­el Pur­ple.

The fol­low­ing coun­ties will move to Lev­el Red on Fri­day, Novem­ber 20, 2020: Adams, Ara­pa­hoe, Boul­der, Broom­field, Clear Creek, Den­ver, Dou­glas, Jef­fer­son, La Pla­ta, Logan, Mesa, Mor­gan, Routt, Sum­mit and Wash­ing­ton. Read More…

Wait time at In-N-Out grand opening in Aurora hits staggering 14 hours

in n out e1512062865597 - Post Premium: Top stories for Nov. 16-22, 2020 - today
Den­ver Post file

Pop­u­lar West Coast chain In-N-Out Burg­er has announced it will be open­ing loca­tions in Col­orado.

Peo­ple wait­ing in line Fri­day to gob­ble down In-N-Out Burg­er fare had bet­ter packed a lunch or din­ner, the wait time at the new­ly opened loca­tion in Auro­ra was 14 hours, accord­ing to police.

An extreme­ly long line of vehi­cles snaked into the new eatery through­out the day, where six moon­light­ing Auro­ra police offi­cers were keep­ing a col­lec­tive eye on the crowd and the traf­fic. Read More…

Workers laid off, food given away as restaurants prepare for new shutdown

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AAron Ontiveroz, The Den­ver Post

Restau­rant own­er Stephen Julia walks near the out­door seat­ing tent at Den­ver Cen­tral Mar­ket on Tues­day, Oct. 27. Julia owns three bars around Den­ver, and one will close dur­ing the lat­est COVID Lev­el Red restric­tions.

In accor­dance with the lat­est Lev­el Red restric­tions, Den­ver restau­rants are in the process of shut­ting down indoor din­ing and mov­ing last call to 8 p.m. But some busi­ness­es have decid­ed to close alto­geth­er for now, while oth­ers will rely sole­ly on take­out. A rel­a­tive few are able to accom­mo­date heat­ed, out­door sin­gle-fam­i­ly seat­ing.

The effects of these lat­est restric­tions remain to be seen and felt, but as of Nov. 14, new unem­ploy­ment appli­ca­tions in the state reached 22.6% high­er than the pre­vi­ous week, with 9,171 reg­u­lar claims filed com­pared to 7,483 for the week end­ing Nov. 7. Dur­ing the last week of Octo­ber, accom­mo­da­tion and food ser­vice work­ers filed the most ini­tial unem­ploy­ment claims of any indus­try in Col­orado, account­ing for 16.9% of reg­u­lar claims filed. Read More…

Fear of economic ruin makes Colorado leaders hesitant to issue stay-at-home order as COVID-19 spreads uncontrolled

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AAron Ontiveroz, The Den­ver Post

Gov. Jared Polis speaks at the Car­riage House of the Governor’s Res­i­dence at the Boettch­er Man­sion on Mon­day, Nov. 2, 2020.

When Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order in March, he did so with the knowl­edge that fed­er­al coro­n­avirus relief — includ­ing $1,200 checks, $600 week­ly unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits and small loans — would buoy a wide range of Col­oradans fac­ing eco­nom­ic ruin and all that can come with it: hunger, hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty, men­tal health crises, job­less­ness.

Things are even worse today, virus-wise, than they were when he issued that order, which shut down the major­i­ty of retail busi­ness in the state for more than a month and pre­ced­ed a tem­po­rary flat­ten­ing of the COVID-19 curve in Col­orado. But this time, there’s no fed­er­al finan­cial safe­ty net, since Con­gress has failed to agree on a new stim­u­lus pack­age. Read More…

Photo of the week

See more great pho­tos like this on The Den­ver Post’s Insta­gram account.

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Helen H. Richard­son, The Den­ver Post

Stained glass win­dows called Every Knee Shall Bend can be seen from inside the Holy Name Catholic Church on Nov. 11, 2020 in Steam­boat Springs. The win­dows show the sec­ond com­ing of Jesus to the Yam­pa Val­ley at the end of time. Peo­ple walk­ing by the win­dows often refer to them as “ski­ing Jesus” because he is shown atop the ski runs at Steam­boat Ski Resort below him. Two rays of light ema­nat­ing from behind him look like skis. The win­dows were designed by graph­ic artist Gre­go­ry Effin­ger who spent over four years design­ing 166 stained glass win­dows that are found through­out the church.

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