Breaking News
More () »

Colorado governor extends school and ski area closures due to coronavirus pandemic

Colorado's relief fund www.HelpColoradoNow.org has raised $3 million to help those who have been impacted by the novel coronavirus.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) has issued an executive order extending his state's closures at schools and ski areas in a continued effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. 

In a news release that was distributed on Wednesday evening, Polis said he has now all ordered all of the state's public and private schools to cease in-person learning through April 17. This means that class will now be conducted entirely online for Colorado students. 

The governor said his order also directs school systems to continue providing free and reduced lunch and breakfast to kids in need. 

In a not-unexpected development, the governor said he will also extend the closure of ski areas through April 6. This comes the same day that Vail's hospital said it was experiencing an influx of coronavirus patients. 

RELATED: 'It's everywhere here': Vail Health CEO issues stern COVID-19 warning to mountain community

RELATED: Vail Resort employees scramble for housing and clarity as the coronavirus closes slopes

Mountain communities have been some of the hardest hit by COVID-19. 

Finally, in conjunction with a statement President Donald Trump made earlier this week, Polis said his office also issued an order barring public gatherings of more than 10 people. 

“I want to challenge Coloradans to do our part, each and every one of us, to help us all get through this,” Polis said.   

Earlier Wednesday, Polis announced a relief fund aimed at helping Coloradans impacted by the coronavirus. 

Coloradans can donate or sign up to volunteer at www.HelpColoradoNow.org. As of Wednesday night, it had raised $3 million and the governor said he was reaching out to large organizations for donations.

These donations will help fund everything from medical supplies to staff at homeless shelters and aid for service workers who have lost their jobs due to an order from the governor’s office that restaurants cease all operations outside of takeout and delivery.

Polis also asked that people donate blood if they can, since blood banks are reporting shortages.

The governor added that childcare on a sliding scale based on income has been established for essential workers. Nonessential workers have been asked to work from home, but parents who work as emergency workers or at grocery stores will still be going to work.

This information is available at covidchildcarecolorado.com.

RELATED: Impacted by coronavirus? Here are some resources

RELATED: Gov. Polis asking for federal funding, emergency loans for small businesses in wake of coronavirus

RELATED: Universities, colleges move to online classes, close dorms and cancel graduation ceremonies due to the coronavirus

RELATED: Teacher brings the classroom to kids after schools close due to the coronavirus

RELATED: All Denver restaurants and bars ordered to close to indoor dining for 8 weeks

Polis said his office has also made unemployment insurance available to Coloradans who lost their jobs as the result of COVID-19. He conceded that he expects claims to increase as “the virus takes a larger toll on our economy.”

He said the governor’s office is also shifting more workers to the call center to help people with their unemployment claims. Polis also said his office has reached out to the Small Business Administration for loans and is working to enact further measures.

RELATED: 'This is just unprecedented': Unemployment applications skyrocket in Colorado amid the coronavirus outbreak

RELATED: Courts across Colorado make changes amid coronavirus concerns

The governor also called on the federal government to pass a stimulus package that President Donald Trump had previously said would send checks to people across the country.

Polis said his office was looking at options to help people who have lost their income due to COVID-19 pay their rent and mortgages, and that at this point eviction orders will “not be processed as they normally are.”

Cases of the novel coronavirus were first reported in Colorado on March 5 and more have been confirmed since then. As of this writing, two people have died.

On Monday, Polis said bars and restaurants across the state will offer takeout and delivery only for 30 days and larger gathering places like theaters and casinos will close to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Health officials have advocated for social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. People with preexisting health conditions and those over 60 have been told to stay home in order to avoid contracting the disease.

SUGGESTED VIDEOS | Local stories from 9NEWS 

Before You Leave, Check This Out