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Colorado police departments limiting in-person services due to COVID-19

Denver and Aurora officers are trying to take more police reports online to limit contact that could spread the novel coronavirus.

DENVER — Multiple police departments across Colorado announced changes to their services Friday after the governor’s office recommended heightened social distancing procedures to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

The Denver Police Department (DPD) said it will implement a “modified report-taking process” to limit the amount of one-on-one interaction officers have with the public. In some cases, officers will take reports and statements via phone call instead of dispatching officers to gather information in-person.

They emphasized this will not impact high-priority, emergency incidents.

“For example, if a resident calls Denver Police to report a property crime that previously occurred, a suspect is no longer present and there is no imminent threat to personal safety, an officer can call the person reporting the crime to obtain the necessary information to create a police report,” a note on DPD’s website reads. “The officer will then determine if additional investigative and/or evidence collection resources are required.”

The Aurora Police Department said due to COVID-19, officers will only respond to priority calls for service.

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“A priority call for service is any situation where there is a crime in progress, not necessarily only where a life is in danger,” a tweet from the department reads.

The department encouraged citizens to post online police reports, and to be willing to give information over the phone.

“Police officers are frequently in contact with many citizens, and we want to minimize the potential of our daily interactions from causing an exposure risk to you,” Aurora Police tweeted.

The Vail Police Department tweeted it has suspended the following services: non-criminal fingerprinting, vehicle identification checks and the processing of passenger transportation permit applications.

Parking disputes are now also being accepted by email only.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said it is also suspending some of its services. Civil process services will be limited to court-only writs for the near future, and public fingerprints will only be completed for concealed handgun permit applications.

“These changes to services will remain in place until further notice. We greatly appreciate the community’s patience and support during this time,” a bulletin on the Eagle County website reads.

Police departments are making changes as venues cancel gatherings, churches cancel services, and schools move classes online as part of an effort to limit social interaction between people.

This is part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep the virus from overwhelming hospitals and doctors.

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan, China in late 2019. This new strain of coronavirus began popping up in the United States in February.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

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.

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