Pueblo extends more help for businesses amid “out of control” virus


PUEBLO, Colo. — Two-thirds of Pueblo County’s total cases (9,333) came in November (6,314) as the area continues to experience a gush of cases.

Parkview Medical Center was at its ICU capacity on Friday while St. Mary-Corwin had five beds left in the unit, Mayor Nick Gradisar said during is community briefing on Friday.

“The United States of America is not a third world country. We do not want to get to the point where people can’t get the medical care that they need because we were just careless or selfish or we said, ‘well, this is my right,” Mayor Gradisar said.

Mayor Gradisar is hopeful for vaccines but recognizes businesses will struggle to get to the point where they are readily available or get to the point where warmer weather makes outdoor dining profitable again.

$1 million of grants is heading out to several businesses and the fund is still open for applications on the city’s website. The city is also buying $300,000 worth of parklets and heating lamps for restaurants.

“We’re doing the best we can to try and accommodate those businesses that try to remain open, but it’s tough for them and we recognize it’s tough for them,” Mayor Gradisar said.

The city has conducted 1,060 inspections of businesses as part of its COVID-19 Education and Compliance Technician program.

While they did fine 331 mask violations, 488 businesses were found to have no violations at all. It’s important to Gradisar these inspections take place to show the state the City is ready for the “5 Star” program that’s in the works.

The program would allow restaurants in red level, severe risk counties on Colorado’s COVID-19 dial to operate with limited indoor dining, if they are able to show they are practicing exemplary public health practices.

It’s a key sector as a large portion of sales tax revenue from the city comes from bars and restaurants, Gradisar says, while he wants those businesses to be able to operate safely.

“It won’t be long before we look at 2020 as a lost year, but let’s not make it the last year for us or our loved ones by doing things that we shouldn’t be doing while this infection remains out of control,” Mayor Gradisar said.

Pueblo County announced the opening of a second, free testing site to catch up with the increased demand for tests. It will be located on the south end of the Pueblo Mall, operating from 8am-5pm Monday-Saturday.

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