Colorado Coronavirus Updates For March 12: All The Closures, Test Cases And More

A negative pressure room inside St. Joseph Hospital, March 10, 2020.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A negative pressure room inside St. Joseph Hospital, March 10, 2020.

This blog gathers all of the updates and news from Thursday, March 12, 2020. If you're looking for Friday's latest, check out the liveblog here. Our original play-by-play of events continues below.

9:02 p.m. — Many other metro school districts follow suit

After Denver Public Schools, the state's largest school district suspended classes and extended spring break, a handful of others followed, including:

  • Colorado Springs-area school districts
  • Boulder Valley School District
  • Jefferson County Public Schools

— Francie Swidler

7:24 p.m. — Denver Public Schools suspends classes

The state's largest school district joined several others in extending its spring break to close schools out of concern for the new coronavirus.

Alex Scoville

Coronavirus FAQ: What You Need To Know Toda

6:55 p.m. — Cherry Creek School District suspends classes

All schools in the Cherry Creek School District will be closed from Friday, March 13, through Friday, March 27. Daycare is included in the closure.

Alex Scoville

6:20 p.m. — 27J School District suspends classes

27J Schools in Adams County announced Thursday evening they have decided to cancel classes at all schools in the district, effective immediately, through March 27.

Tri-County Health had directed the district two close two schools — Riverdale Ridge High School and Reunion Elementary — because of a presumptive positive case of the new coronavirus.

All events and activities are also canceled.

Alex Scoville

5:52 p.m. — CSU Pueblo moves classes online

Colorado State University Pueblo announced Thursday it will move classes online starting Monday, March 16.

Teaching will remain remote through May 1. The campus will stay open.

You can read about the status of Colorado's universities here.

Alex Scoville

5:18 p.m. — Aurora Public Schools seems ready to go on an extended break

Aurora Public Schools appears to have become the first metro Denver district to institute an extended closure of all schools as the coronavirus spreads through Colorado.

An Aurora district charter school, Rocky Mountain Prep, posted notice on its website Thursday afternoon that the district would extend its spring break, starting Friday, through an additional week. Spring break in Aurora will now last until at least March 30.

Taylor Allen

5:07 p.m. — A CU Boulder employee tested positive for coronavirus

The University of Colorado announced Thursday that the school had learned an employee tested presumptive positive for the new coronavirus.

Boulder County Public Health is handling the case and working to contact anyone who may have been in contact with the employee.

Alex Scoville

5:01 p.m. — 4 new cases in Eagle County

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed four new presumptive positive cases of the new coronavirus in Colorado, all in Eagle County.

The cases include a male in his 20s, a female in her 30s, a male in his 80s and a female in her 30s. The cause of exposure is still under investigation for all four.

The new cases bring Colorado's total to 49, including an indeterminate case public health officials are treating as a positive. Eleven of those are in Eagle County.

Colorado has tested more than 400 people since Feb. 28.

Alex Scoville

4:59 p.m. — Cities of Denver and Aspen declare local states of emergency

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Aspen City Manager Sara Ott both declared local states of emergency for the cities on Thursday.

The declarations will help the cities access more resources and funding streams to deal with the outbreak.

They also enforce new restrictions. According to a statement from the City of Aspen, those include:

  • Wheeler Opera House is closed until March 31 and may be extended.
  • Aspen Recreation Center, Red Brick Gym, Aspen Ice Garden, Golf simulator, and Red Brick Center for the Arts are closed until March 31 and may be extended.
  • Non-mandatory advisory board and commissions will stop meeting through April 15.
  • Classes in the Aspen Recreation Center, Red Brick Gym, and Red Brick Center for the Arts will not run until April 15.
  • The City will be issuing no new event permits until April 15.  The City will be reevaluating event permits that have already been issued, which may be subject to further consideration.

To help combat the spread of coronavirus in the city's homeless population, Denver is supplying service providers with hand sanitizer and disinfecting tools, as well as looking to secure more portable handwashing stations. The city is also focusing on food facilities, hospitals and other medical facilities, school and child care facilities, and shared living facilities for older adults.

Both declarations last seven days, but can be extended.

Aspen and Pitkin County and the City and County of Denver have two of Colorado's highest concentrations of coronavirus cases, with 10 each.

Alex Scoville

4:27 p.m. — Denver Public Libraries close some branches

The Denver Public Library system announced that it was closing the Montbello, Smiley, Woodbury, Virginia Village, and Eugene Field branches at 6 p.m. on Thursday until further notice.

Those five branches are all close to schools that have closed due to possible coronavirus exposure.

The library is also suspending all activities that include its bookmobiles.

Alex Scoville

4:22 p.m. — First Colorado school district suspends classes due to coronavirus

The Gunnison Watershed School District is the first Colorado school district to cancel classes district-wide.

The district will suspend all classes starting Friday, March 13, and tentatively returning on Monday, March 30.

Gunnison Watershed schools include:

  • Lake School
  • Gunnison Elementary School
  • Gunnison Middle School
  • Gunnison High School
  • Crested Butte Elementary School
  • Crested Butte Secondary School
  • Marble Charter School

The district has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 and is taking the measure out of precaution. There are three presumptive positive cases of the new coronavirus in Gunnison County, with 14 pending tests.

Alex Scoville

3:56 p.m. What's RTD's coronavirus plan?

The new coronavirus hasn’t yet had a meaningful impact on the Regional Transportation District’s already thinly-stretched workforce, but if enough bus drivers and light rail operators were to call in sick, RTD would make service cuts — starting with the least-popular routes.

Nathaniel Minor

2:58 p.m. — Aspen Snowmass will keep ski resorts open

Aspen Snowmass — which operates the Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk resorts — will keep its resorts open for business, with some changes for safety.

The company is canceling large events like its Hi Fi concerts and championship competitions. Seating at the resorts' restaurants will be reconfigured to create more space. Gondola cabins are being disinfected daily and secondary lifts are being opened up.

Aspen is a "hot spot" for the new coronavirus, with 10 cases as of Thursday afternoon. The new coronavirus has spread in the high country without being detected by public health workers.

Alex Scoville

2:42 p.m. — Concert giants Live Nation and AEG are suspending all current tours

The New York Times is reporting that Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Presents will suspend all running tours.

The two companies operate tours for major artists, such as Billie Eilish and Celine Dion, as well as own and operate venues.

AEG owns and operates the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, the Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre in Greenwood Village, the Gothic Theatre in Englewood and the Mission Ballroom, Ogden Theatre and Bluebird Theater in Denver.

Live Nation owns and operates the Marquis Theater, Summit Music Hall and Fillmore Auditorium in Denver.

The move comes after some acts, like Billy Joel and Pearl Jam, are postponing or canceling shows. Major music festivals like SXSW and Coachella are also canceling or postponing their events.

Alex Scoville

2:24 p.m. — NCAA cancels remaining championships, including March Madness

A day after announcing that winter and spring college tournaments would go on without an audience, NCAA has moved to cancel all remaining championships.

That includes the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments and March Madness.

"This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities," said Stacey Oburn, NCAA director of communications, in a statement.

Alex Scoville

2:05 p.m. — The drive-up coronavirus testing site in Denver was so busy it had to close

At 11 a.m., one hour after the lab opened, the wait time was three hours. Health officials will create a cutoff point in line. Those on the wrong side of that cutoff will get first preference tomorrow when the lab reopens.

Read the full story on Denverite.

— David Sachs

1:46 p.m. A third Denver Public Schools elementary has closed after coronavirus exposure

John H. Amesse Elementary School is the third DPS school to close for a deep-cleaning after exposure to the new coronavirus.

A statement from principal Angelina Walker confirmed that two family members of a student are presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. The student is being tested now.

Cory and Edison elementaries were the first two schools to close after each had a parent that tested positive for COVID-19.

Alex Scoville

1:25 p.m. — AG Phil Weiser warns people not to fall for Coronavirus-related scams

Fake companies are targeting people with promises of access to vaccines and medication that will “cure” the virus — a lie, considering there is currently no cure for Coronavirus.

Weiser’s office also reports getting swamped with complaints about price gouging on some products like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. 

Because Colorado’s statutes don’t have anything dealing with price gouging, Weiser’s office is working with Amazon and other retailers to make sure people know when it’s happening.

“Scammers take advantage of natural disasters and emergencies,” Weiser said, in a statement. “By learning how to avoid scams related to Coronavirus, we can work together to ensure no one in our state is taken in by these malicious attempts to defraud Colorado consumers during this public health emergency.”

— Allison Sherry

1:13 p.m. — MLB will delay 2020 season by at least two weeks

Major League Baseball will cancel all forthcoming Spring Training games, delaying opening day by at least two weeks.

The MLB also postponed the World Baseball Classic Qualifier games indefinitely.

"This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans," a statement read.

The NBA suspended their season on Wednesday and the NHL followed suit earlier on Thursday.

— Alex Scoville

1:05 p.m. — Polis' schedule has been cleared to make room for coronavirus 24/7

Gov. Jared Polis and his staff are committing themselves to the state's coronavirus response full-time, and that means no speeches at conferences or the usual cabinet meetings. The governor's schedule, now a sea of yellow-highlighted postponements, really drives that home.

Alex Scoville

12:43 p.m. — 11 new cases found in Colorado on Thursday

The number of presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the state continued to grow Thursday with the announcement of 11 new cases.

That brings the total number of positive cases in the state to 44, with a possible 45th still awaiting confirmation.

The cases announced Thursday were in Denver, Eagle, Pitkin, Adams, Jefferson and Gunnison Counties.

Chuck Murphy

12:10 p.m. NHL suspends season

The National Hockey League has joined the NBA and other leagues in suspending operations indefinitely in the hope the coronavirus will run its course. That means the Colorado Avalanche, now sitting in second place in the Western Conference, will go into a holding pattern to see if the season resumes.

The NBA, and Denver Nuggets, took the same step on Wednesday night.

"Following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus — and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point — it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time," the league said in a statement.

More details will be released later.

Chuck Murphy

11:24 a.m. Two Denver schools closed due to virus concerns

Two Denver Public Schools are now temporarily closed for cleaning after concerns about the possible presence of the coronavirus.

Both Cory and Edison Elementaries are closed after each had a parent that tested positive for COVID-19, according to letters sent home to parents of students at the schools.

State health officials are working to see who at Cory and Edison may have come in contact with the parents and their children are being tested.  This is Cory’s second day closed and Edison’s first.

Neither of the schools have reached the state ordered closure criteria but are closing out of precaution. The district cancelled all international and out-of-state travel for students and staff until further notice.

— Taylor Allen

11 a.m. Fort Carson watching for signs of the virus

Fort Carson in Colorado Springs says it does not have any positive coronavirus cases, according to a news release, but officials are watching.

The base is taking precautionary measures like keeping soldiers under observation while overseas before returning to the U.S. and screening all soldiers who have returned from high-risk areas before they’re allowed to leave base and go home.

Representatives with Fort Carson have not returned requests for comment.

May Ortega

10:20 a.m. — Early childhood conference canceled

The 2020 Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference is canceled.

Organizers say the conference was set to bring more than 2,000 early childhood professionals to downtown Denver on March 13 and 14.

“We will sincerely miss this year’s event, but we feel this is the best decision for everyone involved," said Emily Bustos, CEO of Denver’s Early Childhood Council. "The health of our early care and education providers, and the children and families they care for, are our highest priority and we do not want to put anyone at unnecessary risk.”

Dave Sachs

10:15 a.m. Community colleges prepare for remote classes

The chancellor of Colorado's Community College System said Thursday that the 13 schools are making plans to move to online learning, following other higher education facilities in the state.

In a release, former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia said the schools were immediately implementing bans on large campus gatherings and canceling some travel.

“Our thirteen college presidents and I are having regular, ongoing conversations and heeding the guidance of public health experts and the CDC," Garcia said.

Any changes to class schedules are likely to occur in conjunction with an extended Spring Break. Garcia acknowledged that some courses in career and technical education would not be candidates for online learning, but could be shifted to spaces large enough to allow for distances between students and instructors during the coronavirus spread.

For more information, students can contact their college.

Chuck Murphy

9:55 a.m. Colorado prisons bar visitation

The Colorado Department of Corrections has suspended in-person visits and family reunifications to try and prevent the coronavirus from spreading in state prisons.
Executive Director Dean Williams acknowledged the negative effects this will have both on inmates and their loved ones, but said they have to protect the disease from spreading in populations within close quarters.
“Anytime we make these types of changes to operations, we are acutely aware of the impact it has on those who work and live in our facilities,” he said, in a statement. 
Corrections officials said they were exploring the use of video chats and are also screening all incoming inmates for COVID-19 before Other precautions include:

  • Suspending volunteer services within prisons
  • Parolees who are sick, immune-compromised or over the age of 60 will not be required to come to a parole office in-person, but are still required to keep in touch with their parole officer.
  • All public tours and family reunification events are canceled.

Officials also acknowledged that they don’t usually permit hand sanitizer in cells because of the alcohol content, but say they’re making sure prisoners have access to plenty of soap and water.

There are about 20,000 inmates in state prisons in Colorado.

Allison Sherry

9:15 a.m. Major Denver volleyball tournament canceled

Organizers of the Colorado Crossroads volleyball tournament scheduled for this weekend at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver announced early Thursday they were canceling the event.

"If you are a team planning to come to Denver, do not come," organizers wrote at 5:30 a.m. "We wish things had not changed overnight, but they have. And, in an effort to keep people from coming here, especially those of you flying, we are sending this out at this time in the morning and reversing the notice we sent just yesterday."

The event draws thousands of competitors on hundreds of teams from across the country for two weekends of matches. Last weekend went ahead as planned.

Chuck Murphy