Breaking Down the Impacts of COVID-19 IN COLORADO
By Lina Zhu
It has been eight months since the COVID-19 lockdown in Colorado. As we have all learned to live in this new normal, lets take a look at the latest statistics of how the coronavirus has impacted our Colorado communities.
Latest COVID-19 Statistics
COVID-19 cases are surging across the country as well as the state. According to the executive director of the state health department Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Colorado is in the “third wave” of COVID-19 as hospitalizations reach the highest level since May. Public health officials are concerned about a greater spread over the holidays.
In mid-October, health officials announced that Colorado has more active COVID-19 outbreaks now than any time since the pandemic began. In Colorado, an “active COVID-19 outbreak” is measured by two or more cases occurring in the same place or in the same event within two weeks. If there are no new cases within four weeks, the outbreak is considered over.
On Oct. 27, Mayor Michael Hancock confirmed that the City and County of Denver, which had been at Safer at Home Level 2 (Concern) on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s dial for COVID-19 restrictions, has been moved to Safer at Home Level 3 (High Risk) because of the worsening number of positive cases.
This means restaurants, retail businesses and offices that are currently operating at 50 percent capacity must reduce that to 25 percent, and indoor events must implement a 25-person cap, with a 75-person maximum for events taking place outside.
Most of the recent outbreaks have accumulated at universities, such as the University of Colorado at Boulder, where there were 1,711 confirmed cases as of Oct. 15.
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases in Colorado hit a record high in mid-October. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 6,722 COVID-19 cases in the week ending on Oct. 18. The total number of cases this week was the highest in the state since reliable data were available, but a lack of testing could mean more cases went undetected in March and April.
However, the number of confirmed cases and deaths from the latest outbreak is decreasing. According to data on Oct. 13, there have been 119 new cases, with an average of 11 cases and fewer than one death.
Job Loss/Unemployment In Colorado
The COVID-19 outbreak is having a devastating impact on the U.S. economy and jobs. According to the University of Colorado Business School of Leeds, COVID-19 has ended a decade of job growth in Colorado.
Since mid-March, 558,625 people have applied for formal unemployment benefits in Colorado, with 718,666 including federal PUA benefits as of Sept. 24, The Denver Post reported.
Although the outbreak claimed millions of jobs in March and April, the latest data show that some of those jobs are slowly coming back.
The number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits nationwide fell to 11 million, according to the Labor Department report Oct 8. The number of people seeking continuing unemployment assistance in Colorado has continued its slow and uneven decline, dating back to its peak in mid-June when nearly 450,000 people sought to continue assistance.
In the week ending on Sept. 26, 218,292 Coloradans continued to file for unemployment benefitsa. Of these, approximately 126,000 are supported by the traditional national unemployment scheme and 64,500 are enrolled in the PUA program. That number has fallen steadily over the past few months, reflecting the fact that some of the unemployed workers have found work again.
Tourism is believed to be the last part of the recovery. The researchers found that large cities like Denver and Boulder recovered faster. Once it’s safe, economists said that Coloradans will be encouraged to take vacations in the state to support local entrepreneurs.
Unemployment among Asian Americans skyrockets nationally
Marlene Kim, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, fears that misinformation could exacerbate the financial situation.
“Unfortunately, if people continue to believe these myths that Asians are more likely to have the virus, that they’re bringing the virus, certainly Asians will have a more difficult time, especially Asian businesses in Asian areas like Chinatowns I think will continue to suffer,” Kim says. “And we’ve seen a number of businesses already close in Asian areas of the country.”
The pandemic has taken a heavy economic toll on Asian Americans nationally, who’ve experienced unemployment rates spike by more than 450%, from 2.5% in February to 13.8% in June, according to the U.S Department of Labor.
“It’s the worst I’ve seen in decades,” Kim says. “Asians typically have among the lowest unemployment rates, and it really shot up during COVID.”
Asian American business owners push forward
In Denver, Simon Tran moves forward with his plans to open his restaurant.
“To be honest, the only thing COVID has done for me was give me a chance to finally run my own place. COVID has given a lot of younger operators the opportunity to finally get a business moving,” he said, while acknowledging that long-standing restaurants are closing in Denver.
Tran’s restaurant Botellón Spanish Tapas & Wine will open the last week of October. While he is unsure how his restaurant’s opening will do during the third wave of the pandemic, he believes that “a large portion of the market has been cooped up and is eager to experience new foods, even if it is in the form of take-out.”
Back in January, Guo Wei was also making plans to open his food truck business BG Dough. When COVID hit, he initially halted his plans but then decided he needed to get out there.
1618 17th Avenue, Denver, CO 80218.
BG Dough which specializes in Chinese egg filled pancakes is available at breweries across downtown Denver (see restaurant peek). Business owners like Tran and Guo are making the best of their situations—and some Asian restaurants are thriving more than ever due to the high volume of to-go orders.
The housing market continues to climb
Despite the volatility being experienced in many sectors, Colorado is witnessing one of the hottest real estate markets during the pandemic.
Home sales are exploding in all regions of the country, led by northeastern and western Colorado, The Denver Post reported. The U.S. home sales surged an unprecedented 24.7 percent in July. The median single-family home sale price in metro Denver rose 12.1% in August from a year earlier. In addition, the average sale price of a home in the Denver metropolitan area exceeded $600,000 for the first time in August.
One reason for these record numbers is that there are fewer properties on the market to buy and more buyers. Last August, for example, only half as many single-family homes were available for sale, compared with August 2019. During the pandemic, lower availability drove market prices higher.
Denver is booming as it is considered a destination for tech workers fleeing the pricey Bay Area and for metropolitan East Coasters looking for more expansive outdoor space. The new work-from-anywhere culture of the coronavirus pandemic is one of the top reasons Denver is experiencing its most competitive housing market in history.
According to local real estate agent, Jennifer Seo: “There are a number of factors that buyers consider when purchasing a home but during this pandemic, record low mortgage rates was definitely a factor that assisted buyers to pull the trigger if they were on the fence. And a lot of homeowners who lost their jobs were able to stay afloat and keep their homes with loan forbearance keeping the inventory tight.”
So many are wondering if this is a good time to buy a home due to the low interest mortgage rates?
Yes, historically low mortgage rates may be one of the strong motivations for homebuyers across the country. But in the Denver metropolitan area, rising home prices may have wiped out the benefits of low mortgage rates.
At Denver’s current rate of home price appreciation, the savings from lower interest rates have all but disappeared says Ali Wolf, chief economist at Meyers Research. Prospective buyers face a squeeze on affordability.
Seo with Colorado Realty Pros notes that her Asian clients are waiting. She says, “I can’t speak for the entire Asian community but with my Asian clients, particularly those in the older generation, they are more conservative and holding off on purchasing and selling as there is a lot of uncertainty in the air.”
“Commercial loans have become harder to obtain, so plans to expand or to invest are also on hold. The older generations are unphased by the low mortgage rates and more concerned with the bottom line,” she said. Jennifer Seo, Broker Associate
Colorado Realty Pros, (303) 968-6489
Many are waiting until after the election and into 2021 to make any moves.