Denver doctors react to loosening COVID restrictions


DENVER (KDVR) — The chief medical officers at the two biggest hospitals in Denver are comfortable with COVID-19 restrictions loosening, but warn that people should still be careful.

On Wednesday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced that the mask mandate outdoors will go away. Starting on Friday, businesses, including restaurants and gyms, can operate at 100% capacity if people can be distanced, among other changes.

“I think it’s exciting to be moving to a new phase, but I do so with caution. We are seeing [COVID-19 case] rates go up and we have to watch that closely,” said Dr. Connie Price, Denver Health Chief Medical Officer.

Both COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased in Denver in the last two months.

The seven-day new case average has increased 27%, and weekly new hospital admissions have increased 100%, according to Denver Public Health.

“I’m reassured that we’re not seeing an increase in levels in critical illness and we are getting more patients vaccinated every day, so I think we can do this,” Price said.

The chief medical officer at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, Dr. Reginald Washington, agreed.

“I think people are tired of COVID and anxious to get their lives back,” Washington said. “So I certainly understand. And I think the timing is appropriate, with a few caveats.”

Those caveats include people continuing to wear masks indoors, staying home if they don’t feel well and getting vaccinated, according to Dr. Washington.

Right now, Denver has some of the highest vaccination rates in the state and nation. About 42% of people who live in the Mile High City have received one dose, while 23% are fully vaccinated.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, but if people continue to vaccinate and adhere to the guidelines, I think we’ll do quite well,” Washington said. “If they throw all caution to the wind, I think there’s a possibility we could see cases rise.”

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