Denver stay-at-home order is not on the table despite soaring COVID numbers

We might be in the worst part of the pandemic, but “we are at a different point than we were at the beginning.”

Bob McDonald, executive director of Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment, speaks during a COVID-19 update in the City and County Building's Parr-Widener Room. May 5, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Bob McDonald, executive director of Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment, speaks during a COVID-19 update in the City and County Building's Parr-Widener Room. May 5, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Despite record-breaking COVID-19 cases and hospitals nearing capacity, don’t expect a stay-at-home order in Denver anytime soon.

City public health executive director Bob McDonald told Denverite on Wednesday his office isn’t considering it.

“We are always going to do what we need to, but we are at a different point than we were at the beginning (of the pandemic),” McDonald said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, he said, “We had no data, we had no vaccine, we could not do any modeling, we knew very little about this virus. The real goal of the stay-at-home order was to not let it get ahead of us with what little we knew about it.”

The state hit a new record for positive cases on Dec. 31, when 11,018 cases were recorded in a single day. The omicron variant, detected in Denver last month, is fueling the surge in cases. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is at an all-time high of 23.99 percent as of Monday.

Denver’s positivity rate is a bit higher, at 25 percent, according to data from the city’s public health department. The one-week cumulative rate is 1,000 cases per 100,000 people, the highest ever recorded in the city since the pandemic started and far above the fall 2020 wave, which was the previous peak. The current surge is being fueled by the omicron variant, which was discovered last year and is a more mild COVID-19 variant — though it’s more transmissible, leading to concerns about hospital capacity.

McDonald said Denver and the world have more tools to combat the pandemic, including widely-available vaccines, monoclonal antibody treatments, and, more recently, antiviral pills.

The city issued a stay-at-home order in March 2020 in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus after it was discovered in the city. It lasted until May 2020.

McDonald is encouraging people to follow the city’s indoor mask mandate and get a booster shot.

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