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Colorado coronavirus latest, April 23: Aurora Walmart ordered to close after three COVID-19 deaths

COVID-19 is in Colorado — we'll continue to post updates and headlines on how Colorado is being affected by the coronavirus.

COLORADO, USA — Cases of COVID-19, a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus, began popping up in the United States in January. On March 5, the first case was announced in Colorado.

Each day, we will post a new blog that will track the daily changes in Denver and throughout Colorado as we get them.

RELATED: FAQs: Answering your questions on the coronavirus in Colorado

WHAT TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Click here to read updates from April 22.

Thursday, April 23

Aurora Walmart ordered to close after three COVID-19 deaths

The Tri-County Health Department ordered the Walmart Supercenter at 14000 E. Exposition Ave. in Aurora to close after a 72-year-old employee, her 63-year-old husband and a 69-year-old contracted security guard died of COVID-19, according to a release from the health department.

There are an additional six confirmed cases of COVID-19 among employees and three suspected cases, the release said.

“We are extremely saddened by this news and offer our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the three people we lost,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “These deaths underscore the severity of the highly-contagious coronavirus, and the need for diligent safety precautions to prevent any further spread, including the wearing of masks." 

The release said the health department issued an "Order to Close" this afternoon following a series of complaints from employees and shoppers regarding a lack of social distancing, too many people in the store at once, and employees not wearing masks.

Polis extends two executive orders 

Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) has extended two of his previously-issued executive orders.

The first authorizes agencies to further extend the expiration date for certain licenses and other documents. This includes state park passes and licenses for healthcare facilities, Medicaid and CHIP providers, as well as commercial driver’s licenses.

Read the full Executive Order here.

The second extends an order that extends certain statutes as they relate to jails and probation in Colorado.

Read the full Executive Order here.

Founder of Women's Bean Project dies of COVID-19 complications

Jossy Eyre, who founded the Women's Bean Project in 1989 died Monday due to complications from COVID-19, according to the CEO of the non-profit.

The non-profit hires women who are chronically unemployed and teaches them to work by making nourishing products.

Click/tap here to read more about Eyre's legacy

Bike to Work Day postponed

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced that it, along with the Denver Regional Council of Governments, would be rescheduling this year's Bike to Work Day from Wednesday, June 24 to Tuesday, Sept. 22.

“To maintain the health of riders and of our communities, we believe it’s best to delay Bike to Work day due to the current situation,” CDOT’s Bicycle, Pedestrian, & Scenic Byways Section Manager Betsy Jacobsen said in a release. “Although this event celebrates physical fitness, social distancing would be more challenging this year if we have additional people traveling in closer proximity to each other on our bike paths and local streets.” 

The date for this year’s Bike to Work Day in Colorado was selected to coincide with the same event held by the League of American Bicyclists, according to the release.    

Targeted testing at Sterling Correctional Facility after eight inmates tested positive for COVID-19

The Department of Corrections (DOC), and CDPHE conducted widespread targeted testing for COVID-19 at the Sterling Correctional Facility on Wednesday.

The facility previously had eight inmates, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, test positive for COVID-19.  DOC tested inmates in several units of the east side of the facility, including units where inmates have either tested positive or were previously quarantined. 

DOC health officials have been conducting detailed contract tracing investigations, and the facility has been on Phase III modified operations with inmates remaining in their cells on quarantine since April 14.

The DOC and CDPHE anticipate that additional testing could result in a noticeable increase in the number of reported positive cases, and DOC is prepared to respond to those increased numbers.  

Denver prohibiting consumption of beer, wine in city parks to encourage social distancing  

The city of Denver announced Thursday it is barring the possession and consumptive of beer, wine and champagne in parks starting April 24 through at least July 23.

The city said this is “intended to support and promote the stay-at-home and social distancing directives and ensure the safety of outdoor public spaces during the emergency.”

In addition to new alcohol directives, Denver sent out the following rules about park use ahead of the weekend:  

- If you are sick, do not visit the parks

- Separate at least 6 feet from others at all times

- Do not gather or travel in groups

- Group sports and activities are prohibited

- Shared use of equipment is not allowed (i.e.: frisbees, footballs, etc.)

- Bring your own hand sanitizer/washing supplies

- Leash your dog to prevent accidental cross-contamination with others

- Park hours are 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.

People are also asked to visit the park closet to them during the pandemic. Residents observing others not practicing proper social distancing are asked to call 311.

Attorney General's office announces expanded relief for student loans

People with commercially-held Federal Family Education Loans Program (FFELP) loans or private student loans will be eligible for expanded relief, according to the Attorney General's (AG) office.

The AG's office said relief options are:

  • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance
  • Waiving late payment fees
  • Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting
  • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days
  • Working with borrowers to enroll them in other assistance programs, such as income driven repayment plans.

For a list of lenders taking part in the initiative, click here.

10,000 enroll in Connect for Health Colorado special enrollment

More than 10,000 Coloradans have enrolled in health insurance for the Connect for Health Colorado exchange during a special enrollment period related to COVID-19.

Coloradans who are currently uninsured or about to lose coverage due to COVID-19 are able to get health insurance for 2020. 

Click/tap here for enrollment information

The deadline to enroll is for the special enrollment period is April 30.

CDPHE reports lag in COVID-19 death reporting

There will be a large increase in the number of deaths reported this week related to COVID-19, but largely due to a review of death records, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE).

The agency said epidemiologists began reviewing the cause of death information on death certificates and began entering COVID-19 related deaths into the state’s database if those deaths had not previously been reported to the state.

CDPHE said they anticipate the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Colorado this week to increase by about 130.

The increase is not because those people died this week, but because their deaths have just now been recorded in the state system.

67,334 filed for unemployment in Colorado last week

67,334 people filed for unemployment between April 12 and April 18, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) announced.

That number is a significant reduction from the previous week ending on April 11 when 104,217 filed for unemployment, CDLE said.

More than 279,199 claims have been filed in the past four weeks, according to CDLE.

CDLE reports $74.1 million in benefits were paid out in the week ending April 18, up from the $62 million paid the previous week, and the $29.8 million paid out in the week ending on April 4.

Top five industries with highest claims:

  1. Accommodation and Food Services: 12,967
  2. Retail Trade: 10,295
  3. Healthcare and Social Service: 8,932
  4. Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: 3,893
  5. Other Services: 3,781

Coronavirus cases in Colorado

In Colorado, 11,262 people have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and 552 people have died. Of the 11,262 who tested positive for the disease, 2,237 have been hospitalized. 

According to CDPHE, 52,324 people have been tested and 56 counties are reporting cases. There have been 130 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities.

See the latest numbers from the state health department.

  • Denver: 2,071
  • Arapahoe: 1,824
  • Weld: 1,263
  • Adams: 1,082
  • Jefferson: 1,075
  • El Paso: 798
  • Eagle: 489
  • Boulder : 426
  • Douglas: 399
  • Larimer: 274
  • Morgan: 214
  • Gunnison: 121
  • Broomfield: 113
  • Pueblo: 108
  • Summit: 89
  • Montrose: 82
  • Garfield: 74
  • Pitkin:57
  • La Plata: 55
  • Chaffee: 55
  • Routt: 52
  • Mesa: 37
  • Elbert 26
  • Delta: 25
  • Teller: 25
  • Logan: 24
  • Fremont: 19
  • Kit Carson: 18
  • San Miguel: 17
  • Montezuma: 15
  • Clear Creek: 12
  • Baca: 10
  • Lake: 10
  • Alamosa: 9
  • Archuleta: 8
  • Rio Grande: 7
  • Otero: 7
  • Park: 6
  • Moffat: 6
  • Washington: 6
  • Ouray: 5
  • Phillips: 5
  • Grand: 5
  • Yuma: 5
  • Saguache: 3
  • Costilla: 3
  • Las Animas: 3
  • Hinsdale: 3
  • Lincoln: 3
  • Mineral: 2
  • Custer: 2
  • Crowley: 2
  • Rio Blanco: 1
  • Huerfano: 1
  • Unknown or pending: 108

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus that first appeared in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most patients develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

RELATED: What you can and can't do under Colorado's stay-at-home order

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