Feb 26, 2021 - News
Denver's struggle to reopen safely
Data: Denver Public Health; Map: Sara Wise, Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Denver's current COVID-19 case count ticked slightly higher this week, delaying its move from level yellow to a less restrictive phase.

Why it matters: Mayor Michael Hancock's administration expected to meet the criteria to shift to level blue and increase capacity limits at restaurants, gyms and indoor events.

How it works: Under state protocols, Denver must keep cases below 100 per 100,000 residents for seven days to make the shift down, so the clock must restart. Jefferson Counties moved to level blue Thursday.

  • "It means an awful lot," Hancock told reporters. "[The goal is] ... continuing to improve the balance of safety and economic vibrancy of the city. So it's incredibly important that we get there."

The big picture: Current case counts are night and day compared to late November when the city moved to the stay-at-home order under level red, a new Axios data analysis shows.

By the numbers: Only one of the city's 78 neighborhoods (Auraria) showed a higher case count last week compared to the week of Nov. 15-21.

  • The analysis shows 19 neighborhoods — from Country Club and Cole to Montclair and Montbello — saw a 90% reduction or better.

The other side: Apprehension remains over whether reopening the city too quickly could backfire.

  • "Just because the state allows us to do something does not necessarily mean it is the right thing to do," Denver Councilwoman At-Large Robin Kniech said at a council committee meeting yesterday.
  • Her deepest concerns are rooted in ensuring schools stay open, businesses aren't left "yoyo-ing" and risking residents falling victim to another COVID spike.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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