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Colorado coronavirus latest March 26-27: Grants available from relief fund

COVID-19, a new form of coronavirus, is in Colorado. We'll post updates here as we get them.

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

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

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WHAT TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Read updates from March 23-25 here.

Friday, March 27

Colorado Department of Corrections reports two more employee cases

The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) reported that two more staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. CDOC said one works at the Sterling Correctional Facility but has not been inside the facility for several days. The other works at the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center and has not been in in that facility for over a week, according to CDOC.

To date no inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, CDOC said.

City of Boulder enhances services for homeless

The City of Boulder's Housing and Human Services Department announced it is enhancing its services for people experiencing homelessness in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. According to a release, changes include new daytime access to restroom facilities at the 30th Street Severe Weather Shelter (SWS) and more transportation options to the COVID-19 Recovery Center from screening locations for clients showing signs of illness.

Beginning April 1, the release said, the SWS will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily and will allow people who have been health-screened to wash their hands, take showers and use restrooms on a limited basis. 

The SWS, which is typically open when weather conditions dictate, has extended nightly operations through April to meet current public health needs, according to the release. The facility will continue to maintain a strict capacity of 72 in order to provide proper social distancing between individuals, the release said. 

Arapahoe County deputy tests positive

An Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office deputy has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a release from the sheriff's office. The sheriff's office has identified and notified those who have been in close proximity to the deputy and is taking precautions to monitor them. The sheriff's office isn't experiencing significant staffing issues at this time, according to the release.

The sheriff's office also said Friday that the Arapahoe County Detention Facility has no positive cases of COVID-19 among the inmate population.

Denver street sweeping begins April 1

According to Denver's Joint Information Center (JIC), the city's street sweeping will resume on its usual date of April 1. However, JIC says, parking enforcement related to street sweeping will not begin for 30 days. People who are able to move their cars on street sweeping day are still asked to do so that street sweepers can do their jobs more effectively.

Elective chiropractic procedures suspended under stay-at-home order 

The Division of Professions and Occupations said that chiropractic procedures do fall under the governor's order to suspend elective medical procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Because of this, chiropractic operations across the state are asked to halt operations with some exceptions. Those are: 

  • There is a threat to the patient’s life if the procedure is not performed; 
  • There is a threat of permanent dysfunction of an extremity or organ system if the procedure is not performed;
  • There is a risk of metastasis or progression of staging of a disease or condition if the surgery is not performed; or 
  • There is a risk that the patient's condition will rapidly deteriorate if the procedure is not performed and there is a threat to life, or to an extremity or organ system, or of permanent dysfunction or disability

House passes $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill

Acting swiftly in an extraordinary time, the House rushed President Donald Trump a $2.2 trillion rescue package Friday, tossing a life preserver to a U.S. economy and health care system left flailing by the coronavirus pandemic.

The House approved the sweeping measure by a voice vote, as strong majorities of both parties lined up behind the most colossal economic relief bill in the nation's history. It will ship payments of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans, bolster unemployment benefits, offer loans, grants and tax breaks to businesses large and small and flush billions more to states, local governments and the nation's all but overwhelmed health care system. 

Colorado Congressman Ken Buck (R) spoke out against the bill.

"As President Trump said, we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," he said. "The president has shown strong leadership seeking to help struggling families and small businesses. Congress must do the same."

Grant applications begin for Colorado Relief fund

Coloradans can now apply for grant funding through Help Colorado Now, a relief fund announced by Governor Polis last week. 

It has raised $7.7 million dollars from nearly 4,000 individuals, foundations and companies since its launch. More than 9,000 volunteers including 2,000 health care volunteers have signed up to date. 

The grant process is on a rolling basis and those interested in applying for relief funds up to $25,000 can apply here. 

Coloradans can donate or sign up to volunteer at www.HelpColoradoNow.org. The Colorado COVID Relief Fund's purpose is to raise funds and coordinate the allocation of those contributions. 

Funds raised will be used to support the needs of communities impacted by COVID-19 in both response and recovery. Organizations helping with the response to COVID-19 are now eligible to apply for funds. 

RELATED: Denver announces relief fund for small businesses closed due to COVID-19

Coloradans who can’t donate money are encouraged to donate their time by volunteering. Many people have skills that can be applied during this time, especially former health care workers who could return to the workforce to assist with the demand. 

In addition to funding and volunteers, the Governor continues to encourage healthy donors to donate blood to prevent a shortage in Colorado. Coloradans can visit Vitalant.org or click here to find a blood drive or donation center in their area. 

Thursday, March 26

Governor's additional executive orders cover licenses and correctional facilities  

Gov. Polis announced two executive orders taking further action to protect public health and safety dealing with the state's licensing offices and correctional facilities.

“We will continue taking the bold steps necessary to limit the spread of this virus including those to increase convenience for Coloradans staying at home. These new actions will ensure Coloradans can have their licenses renewed without having to go in person. We also took actions to protect our prison guards and facilities today. For now, people need to stay at home whenever possible to save lives,” said Polis.

One of the orders allows state agencies to extend the expiration dates for certain licenses and other documents so as to limit in-person renewals and enable state agencies to better respond to COVID-19. This includes state park passes and licenses for health care facilities, Medicaid and CHIP providers, commercial drivers and more. Read the full executive order here.

The second order updates the protocol for state prisons and community corrections facilities, providing flexibility to Department of Corrections facilities and suspends certain requirements in order to protect the health and safety of Coloradans. Read the full executive order here.

Colorado Department of Corrections employee tests positive

The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) reported that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. CDOC said the staff member is a parole officer from the Sterling region and does not work inside a prison. The department said it would contact any staff members or others who need to be notified about potential contact with the staff member who tested positive.

CDOC said it is also working to track where the staff member has been and who they have come in contact with, and will be working with medical staff to take the appropriate precautions. 

No inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, according to CDOC. 

Buckley Air Force Base reports first two cases among housing residents

Buckley Air Force Base reported that two housing residents tested positive for COVID-19. One of the residents is the first service member to test positive at the installation, according to a release. The other is a spouse. Both are in isolation. 

The release said an investigation on where the two individuals have been and who they've been in contact with has been completed and everyone they've interacted with have been notified and are in quarantine. Appropriate measures have been taken to disinfect any locations they may have visited, according to the release. 

Unemployment claims rise

According to a news release sent out by the Colorado Dept. of Labor(DOL), 19,475 jobless claims were filed from March 14-21. An increase of 750% from the previous week, according to the news release. 

The DOL said 45,000 unemployment applications had been submitted from Monday-Wednesday of this week.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor said unemployment claims nationally went up by 3,001,000 from the prior week.

Colorado launches hotline to answer your questions about COVID-19

The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center has launched a hotline aimed at helping Coloradans navigate the uncertainty that has accompanied the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The multilingual 211 Colorado service is touted as a central location where “people can access over 7,500 health and human service resources," according to a news release. 

Coloradans can reach the hotline by calling 211, going to 211Colorado.org or by texting your zipcode to 898-211.

People should NOT call 911 to ask questions about COVID-19 unless it is a medical emergency.

Coloradans looking for general information about the coronavirus – such as the number of cases in Colorado, lists of symptoms and how to protect themselves – should call CO Help at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911.

Larimer Health Dept. prepares for patients at Budweiser Events Center

Separate buildings at the Budweiser Events Center facility in Loveland are being prepared by the Larimer Health Department to help the medical community in case of a surge. 

One building is being prepared for homeless COVID-19 patients who still need to isolate but have nowhere to go, according to health officials.

Some metro health departments rescind public health orders

Tri-County, Jefferson County and Boulder County health departments announced they have rescinded their local level stay-at-home orders. The groups announced this after Gov. Polis enacted a statewide stay-at-home order went into effect Thursday morning. The health departments said they did this to make it less confusing for residents on which order to follow.

State parks close campgrounds

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) will close all playgrounds, campgrounds, camping and camping facilities (including yurts and cabins) at Colorado’s state parks as well as camping at State Wildlife Areas effective Thursday, March 26.

The closures remain in effect until further notice. 

CPW will notify all campers currently on-site to vacate immediately and staff will be contacting reservation holders and provide the process for either refunds or changes for those affected campers.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, non-campground outdoor areas of parks, including trails, boat ramps, marinas, and shorelines remain open. However, CPW managers may close areas that do not allow for social distancing. 

That could include picnic areas, fishing piers, and other more concentrated recreation areas and will be determined by location. CPW encourages people to take local and state stay-at-home orders seriously, and limit travel time wherever possible, even for approved recreation.

Last week, CPW temporarily suspended classes and large events and has temporarily closed facilities such as visitor centers and area offices.

Vehicle emissions testing requirements suspended

The Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced that it is suspending the state’s vehicle emission testing in response to the ongoing COVID-19 response and Governor Polis’ declaration of a statewide stay-at-home order. 

The order applies to emissions testing for both gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles.

State officials will soon provide information on extended vehicle registration renewal deadlines through the duration of the closure.  

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