PUEBLO, Colo. — Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar is imposing an overnight curfew in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The mayor made the announcement Thursday. The curfew will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly from 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. on November 13. No unessential travel will be allowed during these hours.
“What we are facing in Pueblo is a health disaster threatening lives and our economy,” said Mayor Gradisar.
At the beginning of this month, the city’s two week positivity rate for tests was 1.4%, on Tuesday that rate jumped to 5.6%.
According to the Pueblo County Health Department, there have been 17 outbreaks during the month of October.
Parkview Hospital has seen the largest number of COVID-19 cases since March, cases have tripled in the month of October.
The city has also been sampling wastewater at seven basins in the Pueblo.
According to the Mayor’s office, there’s a correlation between increased COVID-19 RNA in wastewater and the number of people living in Pueblo who contract the virus.
“We’ve seen sharp increases in the COVID-19 RNA in our wastewater, it’s an early warning system,” said Mayor Gradisar.
“Parkview Hospital is now stretched and they have very little wiggle room,” said Mayor Gradisar. “On October 27, there were only two ICU beds in Pueblo that were not occupied.”
People working at local hospitals say the need has grown.
“It’s been getting crazier definitely have more patients since the beginning of the year, but nothing we haven’t been handling,” said Cruz Medina who works at Parkview Hospital.
Officers will be out enforcing the curfew. Anyone found violating the curfew will be cited by the Pueblo Police Department. Violators could be cited for a class one municipal offense and may be fined to $1000 or put in jail for a year.
“We would not be taking people into custody and taking them to the jail,” said Pueblo Police Chief Troy Davenport. “No the jail does not accept those kind of charges. I would submit this is a two week period and hoping with compliance we don’t want to write those tickets.”
The mayor also asking businesses comply.
Restaurants like Angelo’s have operated under a no mask no service basis. They found out about the curfew through Thursday’s press conference and say these changes are putting them under pressure to keep their doors open.
“We’re all just trying to do a day by day, once (the Mayor) said we had a curfew we were looking at what Fridays and Saturday’s will look for us because we are closed at that time,” said Angelo’s Manager Jill Penfield.
One problem Penfield said is customers at times refuse to comply.
“We tell them to come in,” said Penfield. “But we have a few that come in and say ‘I don’t want to wear a mask’.”
Mayor Gradisar said the curfew ordinance allows for an extension of two weeks.
“It’s important to turn around with holidays coming up,” said Mayor Gradisar. “No matter what we say people will get extended families in and we are urging people to make different holiday traditions.”