Denver’s reopening in jeopardy if COVID-19 numbers keep rising, mayor says

Denver’s coronavirus numbers are moving in the wrong direction, and if the trend continues, Mayor Michael Hancock said Friday, he will be forced to roll back recent reopenings.

“We have lost a little ground in our fight against COVID-19,” Hancock said in a press conference. “We cannot amplify enough that this is the time for us not to lose the momentum that we’ve fought and sacrificed so hard to gain.”

About 2,000 people are tested for the virus each day, Hancock said. And recently the positivity rate has increased from 3% to 4.5%. Hospitalizations have hit about 72% of capacity.

The stats are increasing all across the state, as Gov. Jared Polis talked about Thursday, and the supply of tests has been limited.

While there are other metrics to be considered, if positive test rates increase to 7% and hospitals reach 90% capacity, “we’ll have to consider pausing or rolling back our reopening,” Hancock said.

Denver is still reeling from the first shutdown that began in March, and a second would “absolutely topple many of our businesses,” Hancock said.

Hancock said the city must work hand in hand with state leadership, underscoring Polis’ message to residents Thursday to “wear a damn mask.”

“I know it sounds like a broken record, so let me try a little differently,” Hancock said. “#coverup, #maskup.”

Hancock reminded residents that the face coverings are required in Denver whenever people are in public places, businesses, government buildings and more. He asked people also to avoid large groups and to maintain social distancing measures.

Despite a harmful national narrative, Hancock said, face coverings are an objective and scientific way of curbing the spread of the virus.

“This is about humanity,” he said. “We’ve got to stop playing this silly game of partisan politics.”

Public Health Director Bob McDonald added that Denver will ramp up enforcement of its face covering requirement and issue summonses to people in violation.

“We don’t want to conduct enforcement but if that’s what we need to gain a high level of compliance, that’s what we’re going to do,” McDonald said.

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