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.
WHAT TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
- 3,728 cases in Colorado, 710 hospitalized and 97 deaths. Get the latest from the Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE).
- Colorado issued a statewide stay-at-home order that that began Thursday, March 26 and will be in effect until at least April 11. (Some local orders remain in place and might be more restrictive.)
- Polis said in a Wednesday news conference that schools would be closed through at least April 30.
Thursday, April 2
Poudre Schools to close buildings through end of school year
Northern Colorado's Poudre School District announced its buildings and schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.
This comes after Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) said he was extending the statewide school closure to April 30. Students are now learning remotely.
Gunnison County's RE1J classes, activities suspended for the rest of the school year
According to the Gunnison Country Times article, Gunnison Watershed RE1J School District classes, sports and other extracurricular activities are suspended for the remainder of the school year.
RE1J Superintendent Leslie Nichols announced the closures in an email to district staff on Thursday after Gov. Jared Polis closed Colorado schools through April 30.
Although the district email did not specifically address graduation, it did say “all traditional end-of-year events as scheduled are cancelled.” The district said e-learning and distance learning will continue according to the school calendar.
The article aid that the district's grab-n-go meal service will continue through the end of the year, preschool tuition and activity fees will be refunded and summer classes are still being planned.
Denver Performing Arts Center announces show cancellations and staffing cutbacks
Cutbacks and live theater shows are canceled by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA).
DCPA said the loss of five shows, 523 educational classes and school programs, 19 rental events and two fundraisers resulted in a loss of millions of dollars in their 2020 budget.
In a statement, the DPCA said it ".... is committed to engaging and inspiring audiences throughout our community through the power, the joy and the storytelling that only a live theatre experience can deliver."
DCPA added that operating under local, state and federal public health orders, it had to examine cost-saving measures to ensure the center recovers at full strength in the 2021-2022 season.
Other actions taken by DCPA include a reduction in schedules of hourly employees, a hiring freeze and eliminating non-essential expenses including travel, memberships and discretionary purchases.
The statement added, "...we must reduce our staffing costs by more than 50 percent through a combination of layoffs, unpaid leave, reduced hours, salary reductions and other benefit reductions. Every single staff member will be impacted by one or more of these measures."
The following is a complete list of all DCPA show and program cancellations:
The SpongeBob Musical
Until the Flood
NEW: Saturday Night Alive
Women with Hattitude
Seawell Ballroom events (For details, contact your event organizer)
NEW: Bobby G High School Musical Theatre Awards
NEW: Spring Shakespeare in the Parking Lot Spring Tour
Spring Education classes (all ages)
NEW: Summer Adult Education classes
NEW: Summer Child/Teen Education classes through June 30
Winter Education classes (all ages)
El Paso County deputy dies after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
Deputy Jeff Hopkins, 41, died Wednesday after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 for seven to 10 days, according to El Paso County Public Health officials.
Hopkins was tested for COVID-19 on March 31 but the positive test results were not confirmed until Thursday morning.
He had last worked in intake at the county jail. Health officials said they're working to determine how he contracted the virus and who he might have had contact with while contagious.
Special healthcare enrollment period extended through April 30
The COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period for individual health insurance will be extended to run through April 30, state officials announced.
The original period that was announced on March 19 was set to end on Friday, April 3. The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), has worked with Connect for Health Colorado to add nearly a month more for Coloradans who are currently uninsured to get health coverage.
For anyone enrolling after April 3, their health insurance will become effective May 1.
Only people who are currently uninsured are eligible to enroll, as this is not a period for people with coverage to change plans. Uninsured spouses and children will also be allowed to enroll at this time, even if one spouse or a child’s parent may already be insured.
All individual insurance plans (meaning plans NOT from an employer) are available. People enrolling during this period only have to verbally attest that they are currently uninsured, and the insurance companies cannot require further proof of being uninsured.
Financial assistance for those who qualify is only available when enrolling through Connect for Health Colorado. Contact Connect by calling 855-752-6749.
Coloradans who lose their job, or who may lose their job in the coming weeks, and thus lose their employer-based health insurance, are reminded that loss of such coverage allows them a 60-day window to enroll in individual coverage, whenever that might happen throughout the year.
City of Denver releases data on businesses violating health order
Thursday afternoon, the city of Denver released enforcement numbers on businesses that have violated the state's stay-at-home order.
Since the order went into effect, the city had given out a total of 736 warnings and seven citations had been issued. The citations were for the following businesses:
1. 3/31-Appliance Factory Outlet (1045 Zuni St)
2. 3/31-Wing Stop (5125 Chambers Rd)
3. 3/30-Hobby Lobby (920 S. Monaco)
4. 3/29-Appliance Factory Outlet (1045 Zuni St.)
5. 3/29- Car Wash USA Express (603 Santa Fe Drive)
6. 3/28-Appliance Factory (1045 Zuni)
7. 3/26-Game Stop (757 E 20th Ave)
CDPHE releases new guidelines for construction crews
While construction is still deemed an essential business under Colorado's stay-at-home order, Colorado health officials released new guidelines to ensure that crews working on these projects follow social distancing guidelines.
These guidelines involve reducing the sizes of crews, making sure they don't have contact with external visitors, and that workers not congregate together during breaks.
Construction companies are asked to focus on truly critical projects, as well as to defer non-essential work.
The full guidelines are available online here: https://bit.ly/3dORMG3
60,000+ unemployment claims filed for week ending March 28
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) announced Thursday that there were 61,583 initial unemployment claims filed the week ending March 28.
That is more than three times the number of initial unemployment claims filed the week ending March 21, 2020, which was 19,745.
The initial claims numbers are those weekly claims that are reported to the U.S. Department of Labor every week for the week prior and do not reflect all applications filed for unemployment.
For historical reference, during the Great Recession, the week with the highest initial claims was during 2010, with 7,749 claims the week ending January 9. Thursday's release of initial claims is eight times greater than the peak period during the Recession.
The full economic impact of COVID-19 may not be fully presented until March or April jobs numbers, according to Ryan Gedney, Senior Economist for CDLE. March data will be released Friday, April 17
Polis sends letter to Pence asking for more PPE to address shortage
Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting more Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to address the severe shortage Colorado is facing.
“We are facing a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies to protect our health care workers and first responders," Polis wrote. "Colorado’s COVID-19 death rate is rising faster than any other state right now; the pandemic is spreading so fast that lags in testing are masking the true conditions experienced by Coloradans across the state."
Below is a list of PPE requested by Polis:
- 10,000 ventilators, and associated equipment and pharmaceuticals
- 2,000,000 N95 masks
- 4,460,000 surgical masks
- 720,000 gowns
- 880,000 face shields
- 4,300,000 pair gloves -- small, medium, and large
All Colorado Hobby Lobby stores ordered to close by 5 p.m.
Hobby Lobby stores have remained open in Colorado despite the public health order issued by Gov. Jared Polis to shut down non-essential businesses. Colorado's Attorney General office sent Hobby Lobby a letter ordering them to comply with the order to close by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2.
Hobby Lobby was ordered to contact the AG to confirm their compliance.
Denver's health department had previously cited a Hobby Lobby store on Monaco Parkway for refusing to close amid the public health order.
Coronavirus cases in Colorado
In Colorado, 3,728 people have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and 97 people have died. Of those who tested positive for the disease, 710 have been hospitalized.
According to CDPHE, 20,411 people have been tested and 51 counties are reporting cases. There have been 21 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities.
- Denver: 643
- Arapahoe: 441
- Jefferson: 385
- El Paso: 340
- Weld: 329
- Eagle: 314
- Adams: 260
- Douglas: 171
- Larimer: 124
- Boulder: 100
- Gunnison: 86
- Garfield: 43
- Pitkin: 36
- Broomfield: 30
- Pueblo: 26
- Summit: 26
- La Plata: 24
- Routt: 23
- Chaffee: 18
- Mesa: 17
- Montrose: 14
- Baca: 9
- Teller: 7
- Logan: 7
- Morgan: 7
- San Miguel: 7
- Clear Creek: 6
- Rio Grande: 5
- Elbert: 5
- Grand: 4
- Moffat: 4
- Alamosa: 4
- Kit Carson: 4
- Park: 3
- Costilla: 3
- Montezuma: 3
- Otero: 3
- Saguache: 3
- Yuma: 2
- Fremont: 2
- Phillips: 2
- Lake: 2
- Mineral: 2
- Archuleta: 1
- Delta: 1
- Hinsdale: 1
- Huerfano: 1
- Crowley: 1
- Washington: 1
- Lincoln: 1
- Custer: 1
- Unknown or pending: 144
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.
To help prevent the spread, people should:
- Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when they are sick.
- Cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
If you are feeling ill with symptoms similar to those associated with COVID-19 the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) recommends the following:
- Manage your symptoms at home the same way you manage other cold symptoms. To the extent possible, people with flu-like symptoms should remain at home.
- If you need medical care, contact your primary care provider and schedule a visit. Let them know that you are concerned you might have COVID-19.
- Only contact 911 for emergencies requiring immediate life-saving care and let them know if you are concerned you might have COVID-19.
- Restrict visits to the hospital emergency room or urgent care — only individuals needing immediate care should visit these facilities. If you must visit an ER or urgent care facility, call ahead and let them know that you are concerned you might have COVID-19.
CDC's testing guidance includes three types of people:
- Those who have symptoms such as fever OR lower respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) and have had "close contact" with a confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of their first symptoms.
- Those who have fever AND/OR lower respiratory symptoms, require hospitalization and have traveled to areas impacted by the epidemic in the last 14 days.
- Patients with fever and severe, acute lower respiratory symptoms who require hospitalization, and for whom no other diagnosis has been found — such as the flu. No travel or contact exposure is needed.
CDPHE said it's working with city leadership to ensure that public health and safety measures are ready to be implemented in the event of a local outbreak with community transmission.
Those measures could include limiting large gatherings and encouraging employers to allow employees to work from home whenever possible.
Members of the public with general questions can call CO HELP at 1-877-462-2911 to be connected with a local public health representative. They can also visit denvergov.org/dphe.
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