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
Tuesday, March 31
Colorado Parks and Wildlife extends expiration date for certain licenses, passes
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is extending the expiration date for:
- Off-highway vehicle registrations and permits scheduled to expire on March 31. They are now valid through April 30.
- Annual passes will now expire 30 days after their initial expiration date. This is only for passes with original expiration dates of March 2020 and April 2020.
Most passes are available online: CPWshop.com.
Grand County bars short-term lodging
Grand County Public Health issued an order barring all short-term lodging operations (like hotels, campgrounds or AirBnbs) from operating and taking new reservations until at least April 30.
Owners have been asked to temporarily suspend advertising for their rental units.
Despite the order, dispersed camping on federal land is permitted as long as campers obey other state and federal orders regarding social distancing.
Not complying with the order could come with a $5,000 fine.
Anyone with questions about the order is asked to call 970-725-6022. To report violations, people can visit co.grand.co.us/violation.
CBI: This month will probably be the biggest March ever for gun background checks
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said it has received more than 12,000 background checks for firearms transfers last week – an 89% increase over the 6,499 the agency received during the same timeframe last year.
The queue is now 9,257 background checks with a turnaround day of six calendar days, according to CBI.
These spikes in background checks and ensuing delays are being reported across the country, according to CBI.
While federal regulations allow firearms sellers to release guns to buyers if they don’t receive a background check in three business days, CBI said it is discouraging that practice. At this point, CBI spokesperson Susan Medina said one firearm was released to a buyer who wasn’t allowed to purchase a gun.
Efforts are underway to get that weapon back. Medina couldn’t say if the buyer will be charged.
Medina said this March will probably be the biggest ever for background checks and gun sales. She said the last time CBI saw numbers like this, it was in 2012 between the mass shootings in Aurora and Sandy Hook.
DIA closing security checkpoint due to lower traffic volumes
Denver International Airport will close its north security checkpoint due to lower traffic as a result of COVID-19.
The south checkpoint near the Westin will stay open 24 hours a day, and Bridge security will still operate from 4:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, according to a news release from DIA.
The airport said it has also worked to provide more space between TSA lines and will post signage encouraging people to stay six feet apart.
For more information about the airport's COVID-19 response, click here: www.flydenver.com/traveler_services/covid-19
Polis asks for extension of work permits for DACA recipients
Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) has asked for the automatic extension of work authorizations for all Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients whose grants expire in 2020.
According to a news release from Polis’ office, nearly 15,000 DACA recipients live in Colorado.
View Polis’ letter to the Department of Homeland Security here.
Air quality improves from Denver's stay-at-home orders
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the significant decrease in manufacturing and transportation has also decreased the city's air pollution.
CDPHE said this effect has not only been seen in the U.S., but also internationally. Their data showed a decrease in both measured ground concentrations and in column satellite data.
In Denver, CDPHE examined data from air monitoring sites that showed a definite drop, in most cases, in average pollutant concentrations between March 2019 and March 1-25, 2020.
Garry Kaufman, director of CDPHE's Air Pollution Control Division, said the initial analysis of air quality data showed some recent trends in air quality in the Front Range.
"We’ll need more long-term data to draw any firm conclusions about the effects of the response," said Kaufman. "And any conclusions will be greatly overshadowed by the fact that many Coloradans are and will suffer from this disease — physically, emotionally and economically — and some will die."
FULL STORY: Is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting air quality?
Colorado Department of Revenue extends income tax deadline to July 15
The Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) is extending the state income tax payment deadline to July 15.
The extension does not automatically change income tax payments that were scheduled to happen before April 15, according to a news release from the CDOR.
Coloradans who want to take advantage of this extension are asked to email the CDOR at DOR_TayPayerService@state.co.us.
Visit Colorado.gov/Tax/COVID-19-Updates for more information.
Health officials will have to manage COVID-19 as long as there's no effective treatment or vaccine
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) took questions Tuesday morning and estimated that it needs 5,000 additional ICU beds across the state based on current modeling to deal with the potential peak.
They also noted that even if we're successful in flattening the curve, we will still need to have tools in place to deal with the virus.
"Until there is a proven treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19 we will continue to have to have tools in our toolbelt to manage outbreaks of this illness in our communities even after the first wave breaks," said Scott Bookman, Incident Commander for CDPHE.
Health officials provided few details about the facilities where there were current outbreaks but said they wouldn't name those places until investigations are complete. There are outbreaks at 14 residential and non-hospital health facilities in the following counties.
- Adams County (1 facility)
- Arapahoe County (2 facilities)
- Chaffee County (1 facility)
- Denver County (2 facilities )
- El Paso County (2 facilities)
- Jefferson County (1 facility)
- Larimer County (2 facilities)
- Routt County (1 facility)
- Weld County (2 facilities)
They declined to say how many people at each facility tested positive or give any information about any deaths connected with those places.
Data on the CDPHE does include testing from the state and private labs since everyone is required to report cases to the state within 24 hours. Health officials admitted that there was a backlog and the numbers were not likely reported that quickly.
Health officials also said there was not enough data at this time to know if someone who has tested COVID-19 and recovers is immune from the virus.
Donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other items are being accepted. Visit HelpColoradoNow.org for information on how to donate.
Health officials said there's a board that's tasked with making sure donated items, such as 3D printed masks are safe. As soon as they can determine that's the case they'll work fast to get them where they're needed.
City of Loveland Transit buses will be fare-free in April
The City of Loveland Transit(COLT) announced its buses will be fare-free for all of April. They said this is to reduce exposure between drivers and riders.
Other precautions being taken:
- Operators are boarding passengers through the rear doors only to limit interaction and keep appropriate distancing, ADA passengers still require use of the front door (ramps).
- Seating immediately behind the operator is closed to passengers, (taped off with caution tape).
- Operators are cleaning frequent touch surfaces throughout their shift.
- Operators are cleaning areas where passengers were seated between trips.
- Windows are opened, weather permitting.
- Buses are a deep cleaned when service ends for the day.
Short-term rentals temporarily banned in Wheat Ridge
Wheat Ridge city council voted to temporarily ban short-term rentals from April 1-30. The order states short-term rentals must be rented for at least 14 days to be exempt. City council said this was to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Colorado group helps manufacture face shields for hospitals
More than 700 makers have signed up to be members of the new "Make4Covid community," which works alongside medical professionals, regulators and experts in filling the need for medical supplies during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“There’s a critical need, particularly in rural hospitals,” lead organizer Lauren Hebert said. “We’re working with 43 rural hospitals who need these face shields desperately so it’s our real call to action to the maker community right now.”
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