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Gov. Jared Polis is urging Coloradans to celebrate safely and avoid big gatherings around the 4th of July holiday.

At the June 24 update on Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Polis said it “remains critical Coloradans continue taking steps to protect themselves and others.” He said the state’s successes in fighting the pandemic come from individual efforts such as social distancing and mask wearing, which must continue to avoid an increase in cases.

“As we continue to reopen, more of the responsibility is placed on the individual to do the right thing,” Polis said.

“I’m proud of how Coloradans have responded during this pandemic and believe we can continue to make the right choices moving forward. As we plan to celebrate our nation’s birthday on July 4th and enjoy the summer, Coloradans should make plans in a safe way, with just their own family or one other family.”

In a statement summarizing his remarks, Polis’ office addressed the risk levels associated with different activities, encouraging Coloradans to enjoy the state’s outdoors and participate in low-risk activities like camping, hiking, biking and outdoor exercise.

To decide on activities, Polis’ office advises taking into consideration:
• how many people will be participating in the activity,
• whether the activity is outdoors,
• how long the activity will take,
• whether they feel 100 percent healthy,
• how they will travel to and from the activity,
• whether they live with someone in a high-risk population, and
• the value of the activity compared to the risk of participating.

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The state has put together a risk assessment page on its COVID-19 website, which is here.

Colorado has seen 31,479 cases as of June 25 (the most recent data available); 5,386 people have been hospitalized, and 299,772 tests administered. The death count stands at 1,475 for those who died from COVID-19, and 1,669 for those who died with the disease but not necessarily because of it.

In El Paso County, there have been 2,173 cases and 120 deaths from COVID-19.

In other developments:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released guidance on Wednesday that allows outdoor visitation at residential care facilities, aiming to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19.

Under the guidance:
• facilities may not offer visitation if there have been recent positive cases or outbreaks at the facility and it has not completed a required 14-day isolation,
• all visits must be scheduled,
• visitors must be greeted outside at a designated area by facility staff and undergo a temperature check and symptom screening.

Other measures are in included in the full list of guidelines, which is here.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported today that initial claims for regular unemployment fell below 10,000 for the first time in three months.

The agency reports 9,882 claims were filed the week ending June 20th and there were 10,385 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims filed for the same week. 

Over the past 14 weeks, a total of 466,645 regular unemployment initial claims have been filed and a grand total of 588,988 claims, including federal PUA benefits, according to CDLE.

The department also announced it has paid out about $2.7 billion in unemployment benefits since March 29, which includes regular unemployment benefits, as well as PUA claims and claims for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provides eligible claimants an extra $600 in federal benefits each week.

The Space Foundation Discovery Center, run by the nonprofit Space Foundation, announced Thursday it will reopen June 30.

It will be a phased reopening with the first week (June 30-July 3) exclusively for Space Foundation Discovery Center Passport Members and Colorado Springs health care workers, first responders and their families.

The Discovery Center will reopen to the general public on Tuesday, July 7. Museum visits must be reserved in advance. Visit

The Colorado Office of Emergency Management announced Friday that Prologis, Inc., a global logistics real estate company, has donated 64,491 square feet of warehouse space to the State Emergency Operations Center. The space will be used for storage and distribution of critical personal protective equipment and COVID-19 resources supporting state and local efforts through the end of the year. The donation is valued at more than $300,000.

Despite the pandemic, AAA is forecasting Americans will take 700 million trips between July and September in its latest analysis of economic indicators and survey data.

That’s a 15 percent drop in trips from 2019, marking the first decline in summer travel since 2009, but AAA says the data shows Americans are making travel plans — though they likely differ from those in the past.

AAA forecast travelers will take 683 million car trips during the summer travel period — representing 97 percent of all summer travel. Year over year, car trips will decrease in total volume by just 3 percent. Air travel will decline by about 74 percent over 2019, while rail, cruise ship, and bus travel will slide by 86 percent. 

If the pandemic had not occurred, AAA projected a total of 857 million trips would have been taken during the third quarter of 2020, which would have been a 3.6 percent increase over last year. By AAA’s analysis, the pandemic wiped out nearly 150 million personal trips this summer. 

Travelers are also increasingly exploring trips to Denver — AAA reports that Denver is its top-searched city destination.

The complete AAA/IHS Markit forecast is here.

This content was originally published here.