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People check in with Savannah Tuchinski, of King Sooper’s Little Clinic, Thursday for the drive-through COVID-19 testing offered Thursday and Friday at the University of Colorado Boulder, sponsored by King Soopers in cooperation with the Colorado Emergency Operations Center. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)
People check in with Savannah Tuchinski, of King Sooper’s Little Clinic, Thursday for the drive-through COVID-19 testing offered Thursday and Friday at the University of Colorado Boulder, sponsored by King Soopers in cooperation with the Colorado Emergency Operations Center. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)
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Boulder County Public Health officials on Thursday reported two new deaths attributed to the coronavirus, bringing the county’s grim total to 38.

Both of the newly deceased were residents of long-term care facilities in the 80s-to-90s age range. Thirty of the county’s 38 COVID-19 dead had been living in such settings, mirroring a national trend that has seen such communities hit hard.

Among those reported in the latest state data to have incurred such losses is The Peaks Care Center in Longmont, with six deaths, and 29 of its residents testing positive or probable, along with 22 of its staff.

On Thursday, Julian Hazlett, its executive director, who could not be reached on Wednesday, offered comments on the facility’s status by email.

“Although the detail you reported was true, we would like to stress that there have also been successes in our fight of COVID-19. All of our staff that tested positive are doing well and 13 have already returned to work. All of the COVID-positive residents that are in our care are also doing quite well and for several, we were able to decrease the oxygen needs and/or take them off oxygen completely,” Hazlett stated.

Hazlett noted that three of its residents who were hospitalized have returned, are doing well, and that another is expected to return soon.

“This has been a humbling and heartbreaking experience, but one that has also strengthened friendships and forged stronger community bonds,” Hazlett said in the statement, noting that the facility had been the recipient of “many acts of kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness and support” from members of the Longmont community.

Reporting of the latest deaths coincided with expiration of the Trump administration’s guidelines encouraging people to limit most public activities, and as many as 30 states moving to loosen their restrictions, while Boulder County is one of several metro area counties leaving its stay at home order in place to at least midnight May 8.

The county is also considering a mandate that people wear masks in some public places, similar to the measure passed by the Boulder City Council on Tuesday, requiring both customers and employees to wear face coverings inside businesses. That decision could come by Friday.

“Our hope is to move to the Safer at Home phase on May 9,” said county health spokesperson Chana Goussetis. “The gold standard for easing restrictions is a 14-day decline in cases. However, because testing access is increasing, we may well see a natural increase. So, what would hold us back from moving to the next phase would be a significant increase in positive cases this week and next.”

Also on Thursday, the county health department’s latest available data showed a jump in residents testing positive or probable for COVID-19 from 558 to 589. Of those, 123 people have required hospitalization, and 242 have recovered from their illness. County epidemiologists have 128 disease investigations ongoing.

According to the county’s data, Longmont maintained the unfortunate distinction of having both the highest number of positive and probable cases in the county, with 239 to Boulder’s 197, as well as the highest rate of infection, at 249 per 100,000 people. Lafayette now shows the second highest rate of infection in the county, at 196.4 per 100,000 people; with a much smaller population, its actual positive and probable case total now stands at 55. Boulder has the third highest rate of infection, at 183.5 per 100,000 people.

Statewide, Colorado has now reported 777 coronavirus deaths, and 15,284 people testing positive or probable across 56 of its 64 counties, based on data collected through Wednesday. There have been outbreaks reported at 159 of the state’s long-term care facilities.

Thursday also marked the first day of drive-through COVID-19 testing at the University of Colorado Boulder, sponsored through a partnership between the Colorado Emergency Operations Center and King Soopers. That is continuing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at 3665 Discovery Drive, Boulder, but those participating must register first at krogerhealth.com/covidtesting.

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