Denver Mayor Michael Hancock celebrated the city’s progress in lowering COVID-19 infections and increasing vaccination efforts Thursday during the city’s weekly update.
Denver currently has a one-week cumulative case rate of 137.8 per 100,000 people — down from over 450 cases just last month and a massive decline from the city’s peak of 728 cases in November.
The city is also boasting a 3.6% two-week positivity rate and nine consecutive days of hospitalization declines.
Bob McDonald, executive director of the Department of Public Health and Environment, said this is Denver’s “greatest drop” in cases since the pandemic began.
“We are getting through this,” McDonald said. “Here in Denver, our numbers are looking very good and it’s because of everything that every citizen is doing and every business is doing.”
McDonald said COVID-19 rates are decreasing because of public compliance in health orders like social distancing and mask-wearing, in addition to increased vaccination rates.
According to Hancock, 12% of Denver residents age 16 and up have received their first vaccine dose and 6% have received both doses.
Beginning next week, the city is also opening four permanent vaccination sites in partnership with Denver Health. The first site will open Thursday in Montbello. The next three will be located in northeast, west and southwest Denver.
Hancock said they chose these locations by mapping the current 70 vaccine providers in Denver to identify which communities are not yet being reached.
“The city is focused on a city-wide equity-based vaccination distribution plan that is sustainable. That takes a little more time to coordinate but we’re getting there,” said McDonald, adding that it will be “a couple months” before the city reaches new distribution phases.
In addition, Hancock also announced that President Joe Biden’s administration is adding 27,000 more vaccine doses to Colorado’s next shipment over the next few weeks.
“My administration and I remain focused on helping to get some of those doses into communities that are being impacted the most,” Hancock said.
While Hancock is working to provide vaccines to residents, he again expressed the desire to prioritize vaccinating Denver’s homeless population.
While Gov. Jared Polis has essentially ruled out giving a higher vaccine priority to homeless residents, Hancock said he is asking the federal government to directly allocate vaccines to cities, which would allow him to do so.
Hancock said he spoke with Vice President Kamala Harris this week about that possibility.
“It makes sense to prioritize the most vulnerable among us,” Hancock said. “That equity focus is going to continue to guide Denver’s efforts and we’re not going to divert from that.”
Hancock also talked to Harris about issues regarding FEMA’s reimbursement of costs incurred responding to COVID-19. He said FEMA owes $61 million to Denver alone.
Without that reimbursement, Hancock said the city will be forced to make further service cuts.
“Denver (is) on the financial edge trying to figure out how we’re going to continue to address the needs of the challenges presented by COVID,” Hancock said. “This has been too slow and too long.”
Hancock did not specify what service cuts would entail but said he is "relieved" that the new presidential administration is taking the reimbursements very seriously.
Anyone with questions about COVID-19 regulations, testing or vaccinations is asked to call Colorado’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-877-COVAXCO or text “COVID” to 336837 for regular updates.