Coronavirus In CO, March 26 Updates: Stay At Home Order Statewide, And More

This post will continue to be updated throughout the day as developments arise.

Update 7:30 p.m. 

---Pueblo Health Officials Announce First Death Associated With COVID-19---

The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment (PDPHE) is confirming the first death there as a result of COVID-19. In a release, the department says an 81-year-old woman died. No further information was made immediately available.

"This is a tragic loss of life and we share our heartfelt condolences with the family," said Randy Evetts, public health director at PDPHE in a statement. "This unfortunate loss highlights the seriousness of this virus. Now more than ever, we want to remind our residents to protect yourself, your family, and the community."

Health officials are working to identify anyone who may have had close contact with the woman.

It is unclear if her death is reflected in the current statewide count of 24 deaths related to the novel coronavirus.

---More Testing Kits Come To El Paso County---

The state health department is distributing 4500 testing kits to health departments in Larimer, Mesa and El Paso Counties, aimed at testing first responders and health care workers.

The goal is to help bolster medical capacity and will be given to workers who show symptoms. Anyone who tests negative will continue providing medical care and public safety services.

The kits come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

---Gov. Polis Signs Executive Orders---

Gov. Jared Polis signed two more executive orders Thursday, one aimed at allowing some state agencies to extend the expiration dates for certain licenses and other documents, like state park passes, commercial drivers, and licenses for health care facilities. You can read the full order here.

The other order updates protocol for state prisons and community corrections facilities. According to the governor's office, the order provides flexibility to corrections facilities and suspends certain requirements. You can read the full order here.

Update: 4:23 p.m.

New data from the state health department shows 1430 known cases of the new coronavirus in Colorado, which includes those who have tested positive as well as those where there's a high likelihood that an untested person has COVID-19 due to their symptoms and close contact with someone else who has tested positive.

The new number represents an increase of 344 over the day before.  

Additionally, 184 people are hospitalized, and 24 people have died as a result of COVID-19.

The data from the state is complete through Wed., March 25.

In Southern Colorado, counties with known, positive test results:

  • El Paso – 137 (an increase of 15)
  • Douglas – 67 (an increase of 9)
  • Teller – 7  (an increase of 2)
  • Chaffee – 5 (an increase of 2)
  • Pueblo – 3* 
  • Elbert – 3 
  • Kit Carson – 1 (new) 
  • Huerfano – 1 
  • Fremont – 1 
  • Otero – 1
  • Crowley – 1 

* = The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment said Thursday that two more people had tested positive for the new coronavirus, for a total of five. Those cases are not reflected in the data released Thursday by the state.

Update 3:45 p.m.

Officials Urge Voluntary Compliance with Stay-At-Home Order

The statewide stay-at-home order that went into effect this morning is not a suggestion, it's the law. That's the message Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers had today as he explained the details of the order. In a press conference Thursday afternoon, he said the first step in making sure to stop the spread of the new coronavirus is for citizens to voluntarily comply with the order.

"We simply do not have the law enforcement resources to man every park, every trail, every open space, every small business in our community. We don't have the resources to do that."

The city is deploying school resource officers and park rangers to those locations to discourage gatherings. Suthers said criminal enforcement of the order will be a last resort, but charges can be filed for repeat offenders.

Parks and open spaces in Colorado Springs and El Paso County will remain open, for now. Playgrounds will be closed. Suthers said organized sports will not be allowed.

He encouraged citizens to read the 13-page stay-at-home order themselves.

Read the full order here.

Update 3:10 p.m.

Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment Reports Two New Positive Cases of COVID-19

Public health officials in Pueblo County announced two new positive cases of COVID-19, according to a press release sent by the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment spokesperson Sarah Joseph.

The people were both identified as women in their 80s. "Public Health described one of the positive cases announced today was linked to the bridge games at the Colorado Springs Bridge Center where an individual from El Paso County tested positive earlier this March," said Joseph in a statement.

These new known, positive cases of COVID-19 bring Pueblo County's number to five cases.

Update 12:30 p.m.

Department of Labor Announces Over 3.28 Million People File For Unemployment Claims

A report released today from the Department of Labor shows that during the week of March 21, over 3.28 million people filed for unemployment claims across the United States. That's a jump of over 3 million claims from the previous week.

Colorado's numbers increased to over 19 thousand claims for the week of March 21, up from a little over 2 thousand the previous week. That's about a 737 percent increase in claims.

In the report, the Department of Labor said this national increase is the largest ever recorded. Most states sharing data with the department cited COVID-19 as the reason for the jump in claims.

Morning, original post:

Governor Jared Polis on Wednesday issued a "stay-at-home" executive order for the state of Colorado, effective Thurs., March 26 at 6 a.m. through April 11.

"At the peak of the crisis we expect we will need thousands of more hospital beds," said Polis on Wednesday when he announced the move.

Polis has thus far been hesitant to take this step but said social distancing itself isn't doing enough. He added that "we need time" to build hospital capacity. He said he was persuaded that a statewide approach was necessary as the number of deaths from the new coronavirus grew from 11 to 19 in one day.

An emergency alert also went out to cell phones Wednesday night with the notification.

Read more on the announcement

---Pueblo City Fire Department Adapts To COVID-19 Procedures---

The Pueblo Fire Department is aligning its procedures for medical calls and emergency services to deal with the issue of COVID-19. 

Pueblo EMS and AMR units called to respond to those complaining of COVID-19 symptoms will be asked a series of questions aimed at determining if the patient can stay home with a set of instructions for home-based self-care.

"The problem that we are addressing is not having enough resources available at the hospitals to see each patient with mild or no symptoms," said Fire Chief Barb Huber in a press release. "Our goal is to address the concerns of the patient, while saving them the time and frustration of a crowded waiting room at the ER."

The change is expected to help assess and guide patients who would likely not meet criteria for admission to emergency rooms at local hospitals. It's a new way of conducting patient assessments, needed to help maintain limited resources for critical care calls.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department recently enacted similar protocols.

---Latest Numbers From Colorado Department Of Public Health And Environment---

Data tabulation from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, complete through Tues., March 24. Screenshot.
Credit Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Data tabulation from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, complete through Tues., March 24. Screenshot.

There are now 1,086 known positive cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, an increase of 174 since the day before. The data is complete through Tues., March 24, and includes both people who have tested positive and people who are showing symptoms and are a close contact to someone who has testing positive.

Thus far, 147 people have been hospitalized, and 19 people have died in the state as a result of the new coronavirus.

Southern Colorado counties with known, positive test results:

  • El Paso County – 122
  • Douglas County – 58
  • Teller County – 5
  • Pueblo County – 3
  • Chaffee County – 3
  • Elbert County – 3
  • Crowley County – 1
  • Otero County – 1 (new)
  • Fremont County – 1
  • Huerfano County – 1