Archived Live Blog: Coronavirus In Colorado, Week Of March 15
KUNC's newsroom is here to keep you informed with the latest news and updates about statewide responses, closures and cancellations due to the spread of the novel coronavirus in Colorado.
Most recent timestamps are at the top. For more information and answers to frequently asked questions, see our resources page here.
Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 4:12 p.m.
Eagle County Public Health and Environment has confirmed a man in his 60s with underlying health conditions has died from COVID-19. The patient is the county's first death from the disease and 5th overall in Colorado.
The health departmet urged residents to take steps to decrease their risk of getting COVID-19. Those include washing hands regularly, staying home except for essential trips for food and medicine and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
Friday, March 20, 2020 at 4:20 p.m.
Boulder County has opened a COVID-19 recovery center for residents from Boulder and Longmont who are experiencing homlessness and test positive for the coronavirus.
The facility at the East Boulder Community Center is big enough to hold 55 people in isolation.
Residents must get tested at one of four homeless shelters around the county. If positive, a driver will take them to the recovery center, where they'll get meals, showers, laundry and internet services for up to two weeks.
The facility is being run by the Emergency Operations Center for Boulder County. The agency says it's also looking for volunteers without chronic medical conditions to help staff the new center in the weeks and months ahead.
Friday, March 20, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.
Fort Collins has suspended fares for all its public transit routes to help ease economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The suspension includes the MAX, the city's bus rapid transit service. It also includes the FLEX regional route from Fort Collins to Loveland, Longmont and Boulder.
Routes are still running as normal. But the city is encouraging riders to keep at least six feet of distance from other passengers to avoid virus transmission.
Friday, March 20, 2020 at 2:35 p.m.
Gov. Jared Polis announced several new orders aimed at limiting the economic impact of the coronavirus in Colorado.
He is encouraging property owners to stop charging penalties for late rent payments, and to not evict tenants for unpaid rent.
Other measures include expediting payment of unemployment claims, extending the deadline for filing state taxes and allowing restaurants to deliver wine and beer without special licensing.
Friday, March 20, 2020 at 12:30 p.m.
A temporary drive-up testing site for COVID-19 is being set up in Salida by the State Department of Public Health. The location will be open Saturday at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds from noon to 4 p.m.
Testing is free, proof of insurance is NOT required, but a doctor's note is needed.
The first 100 people in the queue will have access to the drive-up testing; all other vehicles arriving after that will be encouraged to seek testing from a private provider.
Friday, March 20, 2020 at 11:50 p.m.
Children's Hospital Colorado is temporarily closing eight of its 18 locations, including urgent care centers and therapy sites, through April 5.
Officials say the decision was made to limit the spread of coronavirus and conserve personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves.
Services at those locations will be consolidated to neighboring facilities and clinicians will also increase their use of video appointments where possible.
Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.
Eagle County continues to be the state's hot spot for new cases of the novel coronavirus. There's strong evidence of community spread within the Vail Valley, said Scott Bookman, COVID-19 incident commander with the CDPHE.
"It is clear to all of us that they have a high rate of respiratory illness that is consistent with COVID-19 even if every case has not been laboratory confirmed," Bookman said.
In a letter this week to the community, Vail Health's CEO Will Cook says the valley likely has hundreds, and possibly thousands, of untested COVID-19 cases. The state recommends every resident to immediately implement social distancing measures, and limit the amount of time they spend in public.
Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 4:25 p.m.
Denver has established a $4 million relief fund for small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will offer cash grants of up to $7,500 dollars starting in April.
Mayor Michael Hancock said it's the first of many economic relief measures the city is looking at.
"We recognize this is going to be a long haul. And we know it," Hancock said. "These are our initial steps and we're going to keep working. We're going to remain in the laboratory to determine opportunities and remedies as we work to recover from these challenges."
The city is also offering $1,000 grants to local artists in need.
Applications are on the city's website.
Thursday, 3/19/2020 at 3:45 p.m.
State health officials say there are no immediate plans to close child care centers during the spread of COVID-19. Scott Bookman with the Colorado Department of Public Health says doing so would hurt the people who are continuing to work through the crisis.
"We are cognizant that an order to close childcare facilities would have a significant impact on the healthcare workers and the first responders and the public health officials and everyone else we need on the frontlines continuing to protect our community from COVID-19," Bookman said.
Bookman emphasized his agency is trying to balance the health of children and the needs for certain parts of the economy to continue operating.
In recent scientific studies children have been less likely than older adults to contract severe symptoms from COVID-19. Bookman says state officials continue to evaluate various orders that could be implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Thursday, 3/19/2020 at 1:30 p.m.
Northern Colorado's meatpacking industry says its facilities will continue operating at full capacity during the coronavirus outbreak.
Meatpacker JBS USA has its headquarters in Greeley. The company says it will keep the city's beef processing plant up and running as the state's number of COVID-19 cases rises.
The company also operates beef, pork and chicken processing plants acrouns the country. In many of these facilities, workers stand in close quarters trimming cuts of meat along conveyor belts.
A JBS spokesperson says the company's plants have stepped up sanitation efforts and health checks for employees. The company didn't comment on whether or not they've seen a positive case of COVID-19 in their more than 77,000-person workforce.
The federal government has identified food processing facilities as critical infrastructure to keep grocery store shelves stocked.
Wednesday, 3/18/2020 at 2:25 p.m.
Gov. Jared Polis says students are increasingly unlikely to return to classrooms this school year as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Polis says he will likely issue stricter social distancing guidelines and isn't ruling out the possibility of ordering some residents to shelter in place.
"If we're going to get through this, we need to figure out how to accurately and correctly by doing social distancing while allowing as much normalcy as possible," Polis said in a briefing Wednesday morning.
Polis also announced the launch of a new statewide relief fund, which has collected more than $2.8 million. The money will be used for medical supplies and to help workers who have lost their jobs.
Residents can also sign up to volunteer during the crisis at helpcoloradonow.org.
Wednesday, 3/18/2020 at 1:15 p.m.
The Regional Transportation District is advising passengers to limit time spent at RTD stations to 10 minutes or less to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The announcement comes as public and private regional transit services are seeing ridership numbers tank amid coronavirus fears.
Denver International Airport reported passenger traffic dropped 14.4% last week. The TSA has also implemented social distancing in security lines.
In response to the air travel slump, private airport shuttles have scaled back their services. Groome Transportation said customers should use their booking tool to determine if service is still available in their community.
The Colorado Department of Transportation's Bustang service has cancelled some connections to popular ski areas as those close, including Loveland and Arapahoe Basin. Other routes will operate as usual, CDOT said.
As university classes move online, Greeley Evans Transit says it is suspending the Boomerang Shuttle that serves students. Other routes will continue to operate as normal.
Curious Colorado: How Safe Is Public Transit As The Coronavirus Spreads In Colorado?
Tuesday, 3/17/2020 at 8:26 p.m.
Congressman Jason Crow will "self-quarantine" after coming into contact with a Coloradan who tested positive for COVID-19, according to his office.
“We have a personal responsibility as citizens to do everything we can to contain the spread of coronavirus," Crow said in a statement. "Even though I have no symptoms, we have to treat any possible exposure with the utmost caution and for that reason, I will self-quarantine. This is a pandemic and it’s incumbent upon every American to do their part. While at home, I look forward to working full steam ahead to provide the federal resources our community needs to address this crisis."
Tuesday, 3/17/2020 at 5:55 p.m.
Citing coronavirus concerns, Rocky Mountain National Park has closed its visitor centers until further notice and cancelled events. The park itself and some restrooms will stay open. Visitors are cautioned to err on the side of safety and minimize contact with staff by buying passes online.
Tuesday, 3/17/2020 at 1:35 p.m.
Vail Resorts will keep its North American resorts closed for the rest of the ski season because of the coronavirus.
The company says it will consider reopening Breckenridge and two other resorts in late April or early May depending on the situation with the spread of the virus as well as weather conditions.
Tuesday, 3/17/2020 at 1:20 p.m.
State economists are dramatically cutting their revenue forecast because of the coronavirus.
Buget analysts told state lawmakers this week the economic outlook is extremely uncertain. They dropped their revenue forecasts for the next year's budget by about $800 million, largely because of the coronavirus.
"This situation is unprecedented," said Kate Watkins, the state's chief economist. "It will have impacts on the economy that we can't really anticipate yet. That said, the way we are treating it in this forecast is that it's a temporary impact and it's something that we can bounce back from, not more of a systemic, structural thing that's impacting the economy at large."
Watkins said Colorado should see the greatest eceonomic impact from the virus over the next four months.
Tuesday, 3/17/2020 at 12:40 p.m.
The University of Northern Colorado and Colorado State University will deliver all classes online for the rest of the semester.
CSU President Joyce McConnell says remote learning will start on March 25 after students return from spring break.
CSU has asked students who live in unversity housing and are away on spring break to hold off returning to campus to allow the unviersity time to create a plan that utilizes best practices for public health and social distancing.
Some residence halls and dining facilities will remain open for the semester to serve students who need to stay on campus.
At UNC, alternate course delivery will start on March 25. Spring graduation ceremonies are also canceled and UNC is working on alternate commencement celebration.
Students who live in residence halls can stay in their dorms, but the campus will close to nonessential personnel starting Tuesday, March 17 at 5 p.m.
Monday, 3/16/2020 at 4:30 p.m.
Gov. Jared Polis ordered Monday that all bars and restaurants in the state close their dining areas for at least 30 days to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
He also ordered the closure of large gathering places, such as casinos, theaters and gyms. Take-out and delivery service can continue.
The move came two days after Polis ordered the closure of all the state's ski areas. He said the moves would help save lives and avoid more serious impacts to the economy and daily life down the road.
Polis said 20 people had been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado. He also warned that there are likely thousands of residents who have the virus but have not been tested for it.
"I know this is a difficult time, but we're in this together and we'll get through this together," he said.
Monday, 3/16/2020 at 3:28 p.m.
Colorado public health officials said Monday that they’re working to reduce a testing backlog for COVID-19.
The state lab is only able to process about 250 samples a day.
Scott Bookman, with the Colorado Department of Public Health, said private labs have been slow to ramp up their capacity to test large volumes of samples.
“The state lab is now working 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Bookman. “We’ve hired additional staff members. We’ve hired additional people to work on calling out results.”
A mobile testing site is being dispatched to both Telluride and Steamboat Springs this week, said Bookman. The state’s mountain communities have seen widespread coronavirus outbreaks, he said. The National Guard is being dispatched in some locations to help administer tests.
Monday, 3/16/2020 at 11:45 a.m.
The City of Denver has ordered a freeze on any gatherings of 50 or more people starting Monday. The city asks that these events be canceled or put on hold for the next eight weeks as a way to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The city said the move puts it in alignment with recommended guidelines out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Restaurants and bars in Denver have been ordered to close all in-person dining, with only takeout available starting Tuesday.
The mayor praised supermarket workers while urging residents not to make panic runs for groceries.
Monday, 3/16/2020 at 8:00 a.m.
Xcel Energy has suspended disconnecting service from customers with outstanding bills in response to the spread of COVID-19. The energy company says it will not disconnect residential customers from their electric or natural gas service for an undetermined amount of time and will work with customers struggling to pay their bills.
"The energy grid is essential to the nation's critical infrstructure and we're taking a well-planned, heightened approach to all threats, including COVID-19," said Brett Carter, Xcel's executive vice president and chief customer and innovation officer. "We will work with our customers, our communities and government leaders to ensure the lights and heat stay on and that those we serve are cared for an protected."
Read more from the company here.
Sunday, 3/15/2020 at 2:00 p.m.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Education released new numbers for COVID-19 testing in the state. There were 30 new presumptive positive cases reported, bringing the total up to 131.
For a more detailed breakdown of the cases, visit the CDPHE's Colorado COVID-19 Case Summary, updated twice daily.
Saturday, 3/14/2020 at 7:30 p.m.
As of Saturday evening, there were 101 cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. That number could climb as more testing becomes available.
Gov. Jared Polis said during a press conference Friday that while Colorado leads the nation in testing, the level of testing is still not where it needs to be.
KUNC's Rae Ellen Bichell visited the Denver Coliseum where drive-through testing is taking place, as well as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Education laboratory that analyzes the tests. She joined Colorado Edition host Erin O'Toole to talk about what she saw.
Saturday, 3/14/2020 at 5:00 p.m.
School districts from Fort Collins to the metro Denver area will continue offering meal services to food insecure families even while classes are postponed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
KUNC asked several of the region’s largest school systems to share their plans. Click here to see the list.--
Thursday, 3/5/2020 - Saturday, 3/14/2020
More updates from KUNC reporters on Twitter. Posts are in reverse chronological order.