Colorado Coronavirus Updates For March 27: Closures, Testing, Cases And More

Denver Mountain Parks, including Red Rocks, remain openDenver Mountain Parks, including Red Rocks, remain openHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver Mountain Parks, including Red Rocks, remain open during the statewide stay-at-home order to battle the spread of coronavirus. The Red Rocks Ampitheatre is closed, however. March 26, 2020.

This post collects all of our reporting and updates on the coronavirus in Colorado for Friday, March 27, 2020. We're following all of the news that happens over the weekend here. Our original play-by-play of reporting continues below.


5:34 p.m. — Denver matches its stay-at-home order to the state's

The City of Denver has amended its stay-at-home order to match the state's to help eliminate confusion over the differences.

“Each of us must take this directive seriously so that we can keep our community safe,” Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. “If those of us who should stay at home, stay at home, and only go out when we need to do things like get groceries or medications or exercise — we can flatten this curve, support out hospitals and get through this as fast as we can.”

Other metro-area municipalities rescinded their local orders after Gov. Jared Polis announced the state's on Wednesday.

The statement from the city reiterated the importance of not traveling to mountain communities and only leaving for essential activities.

Denver agencies have been busy keeping an eye on businesses and residents. They have issued:

  • 672 contacts
  • 280 warnings
  • 15 orders to comply
  • 1 citation

— Alex Scoville

5:20 p.m. — Where in the world has Kevin Beaty been?

This week, at least, Denverite's photojournalist was at the ICE facility in Aurora and Springbrooke Retirement Senior Living in Denver.

4:02 p.m. — It's OK if you also just learned what an R naught was

In his Friday afternoon presser, Gov. Jared Polis repeatedly referenced an "R naught," also known as R0.

R naughts are how mathematicians, scientists and now Polis measure how contagious an infectious disease is. If a disease's R0 value is 18, like that of measles, that means a contagious person can transmit the disease to 18 others.

Polis estimated that COVID-19's R0 in Colorado was between three and four. You can read more about that in the governor's slide deck from today.

A disease’s R0 value is really only applicable in situations just like the one we're experiencing with coronavirus: when no one has been vaccinated, when no one has had it before and when ways to control the disease are limited if not nonexistent. So, like we said, very applicable.

A disease's R0 can be changed, it's not set in stone. That's what Polis was referencing when he outlined the state's response measures, like closing schools and restaurants.

This Healthline article breaks it down further.

— Alex Scoville

3:42 p.m. — The governor just spoke. Here's the recap:

Polis Coronavirus Press Conferenve 200327Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks to reporters Friday afternoon, March 27, 2020 at sheds South Metro Fire Rescue headquarters in Centennial about the the state’s progress in halting the spread of coronavirus.

In his first news conference since he issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order, Gov. Jared Polis reiterated the necessity of the move — and prevailed upon Coloradans to cooperate. The governor stressed that the order isn’t a competition to see who can get away with the most, and asked that people not obsess about the exact wording of the order.

Instead, it should be about how few people residents can come in contact with.

“That’s the contest, folks,” Polis said.

Read the full story here. You can also peruse the governor's full slide deck here.

— Jim Hill

3:36 p.m. — Shameless "Taxman" plug

TABOR creator Douglas Bruce is allegedly planning on holding a "protest picnic" in Colorado Springs.

BTW, have you listened to "The Taxman" yet? We heard you may have some time on your hands.

— Alex Scoville

3:16 p.m. — There are now 1,734 cases of COVID-19 in Colorado

In a press conference Friday, Gov. Jared Polis said there are now 1,734 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, an increase of nearly 300 since the day before.

The governor stressed that the actual number of cases is probably much higher.

There have now been 31 deaths due to COVID-19 in the state, an increase of seven from Thursday. There are 234 cases requiring hospitalization.

More than 11,500 people have been tested for the virus.

— Alex Scoville

1:59 p.m. — Polis will now speak around 2:30 p.m. You can watch live here

— Alex Scoville

1:31 p.m. — Confused exactly you can do in the outdoors?

This chart from the governor's office has some handy do's and dont's.

— Alex Scoville

12:36 p.m. — Gov. Polis scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. today

The governor will speak from the state emergency operations center in suburban Centennial. CPR News will carry his remarks live. Find a station near you or ask your smart speaker to "Play CPR News."

— Jim Hill

12:25 p.m. — Buck is opposed to the coronavirus relief bill the House just passed

The House of Representatives passed the Senate relief aid package, after several members — including some from the Colorado delegation — returned to Washington, D.C. over the threat of a roll call vote by one Republican representative from Kentucky.

Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse spoke on the House floor in support of the $2 trillion relief package. “As many have said, this bill is far from perfect. But let us be clear about one thing: The American people need relief now,” he said.

The bill includes direct cash assistance of up to $1200 for adults and $500 per child, as well as billions of dollars or hospitals, state and local government, small businesses and corporations. 

But it was the overall price tag, as well as line items, like funding for federal cultural institutions, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports public radio and TV stations, and law enforcement grants that include sanctuary cities, that had Republican Rep. Ken Buck and others lining up against the bill. 

Buck said on the floor that he opposed the CARES Act. 

“The sad truth is that most of the money in this bill is unrelated to fighting the coronavirus,” he said. “While it is clearly necessary to do something to help our country fight this disease, this bill is not the answer. Our country needs help, but this cure is worse than the problem.”

The Weld County Republican has been the delegation outlier when it comes to the different coronavirus relief packages. He also voted against the two previous funding measures aimed at fighting the spread of the new coronavirus, as well as dealing with the economic fallout from COVID-19. 

The rest of the delegation, and a vast majority of the House, indicated their support for the bill, as did President Donald Trump.

Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, who also spoke on the floor, said the country would get through these challenging times.

“We are at our best when we come together and meet our common challenges. And that is exactly what we’ll do.”

— Caitlyn Kim

Noon — Meanwhile, in Durango...

11:46 a.m. — Moratorium on new inmates from jails in an attempt to keep COVID-19 out of state prisons

The move will likely create empty beds in state prisons, something state corrections officials say will increase social distancing inside.

Male inmates coming in from elsewhere will be isolated for 14 days at a Centennial prison to make sure they don’t have any symptoms. After that 14-day period, they’ll eventually be transitioned into regular populations.

Jails could become dangerously overcrowded under these orders and Corrections officials say they’ll work with sheriffs on a “case by case basis” to admit some inmates so jails don’t get too packed.

— Allison Sherry

11:36 a.m. — The House passes the coronavirus relief bill

11:25 a.m. — A quick unemployment update

The state's system appears to be much more stable and is now processing 15,000 to 20,000 applications a day.

The first benefits will start arriving next week for those who were able to file last week and the week prior.

If a Coloradan has already exhausted their 26 weeks of unemployment benefits they will be eligible for another 13 weeks once the extension kicks in around mid-April, says the state Department of Labor. The state has also started to reprogram its system to provide the proposed new federal coverage for self-employed, independents and other assorted COVID-19 covered cases. There are no details available on when that proposed coverage kicks in.

— Andrew Kenney

10:52 a.m. — Some Coloradans are hunkered down at home, others are hunkered down in... Peru

“We kind of thought we were in one of the best places because there had been very little exposure in South America,” Roseann Casey, of Eagle, Colorado, said of her trip to Peru.

That was before the country shut its borders in a span of 24 hours to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The U.S. State Department — and local congressional representatives — are scrambling to lend a hand to stranded Americans across the globe. The speed at which everything closed down has left 50,000 U.S. citizens in a bind, according to government officials.

Casey has become the informal point person with the embassy for her group of 23 Americans, including 13 Coloradans, stuck outside the country in Peru.

— Caitlyn Kim

10:02 a.m. — And now for a message from ski areas and the Forest Service

9:52 a.m. — Who you gonna call?

Colorado has set up a new hotline to help residents get services during the statewide COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

People can now call 2-1-1 with public health questions or to get help with things like applying for SNAP benefits or food and unemployment services. Officials say wait-times may be high but they are hiring to try to keep them down.

2-1-1 Colorado is available online at 211Colorado.org.

ALSO: Officials urge people not to call 9-1-1 with COVID-19 questions unless it is a medical emergency.

— Natalia Navarro

9:40 a.m. — A quick correction

An update in yesterday's live blog on the collection drive for personal protection gear at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus gave the wrong count for the number of gloves collected. The drive collected 115,000 pairs of gloves. We've updated the entry.

9:34 a.m. — Governor's relief fund ready to get grants out

Help Now Colorado, the relief fund announced a week ago by Gov. Jared Polis, has raised $7.7M since its launch. Grant applications are now open for organizations that serve and support needs across the state impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to a release from the governor's office, the fund supports work in three categories: prevention, impact, and recovery efforts. The fund isn't for direct individual support, but for community-based groups.

"This is an opportunity to reflect on what we can achieve when we work together and how we can help our fellow Coloradans and small businesses bounce back stronger than ever," said Polis is a statement.

— Jim Hill

9:13 a.m. — The Mile High City is almost a different place while we stay home

You have to watch this. Downtown has taken on a new dimension in these strange times.

— Jim Hill

8:57 a.m. — Colorado's ‘Stay At Home’ order as discussed by 3 people staying in their homes

Happy Friday. Once again, a week of non-stop news and it's hard to keep up. I feel you. But… you still want to make sure you understand what Colorado's politico and the legislature have been up to.

For weeks, Gov. Jared Polis has made decisions and issued orders that were unlike anything a Colorado governor has ever had to do before. It culminated on Wednesday with the statewide "stay-at-home" order. It was a step that he had resisted for a while.

The moves, plus an order delaying tax payments until past the start of the fiscal year, have huge implications for the state budget.

And next week, the legislature has to come back to the state Capitol to extend their break, with one member sick and no idea home much time they'll get to finish their work once they come back to work for good.

Oh, and if that weren't enough: Colorado got rid of capital punishment this week. And the governor emptied death row.

That's a lot to cover, isn't it? Well, fortunately for you the latest episode of our political podcast, Purplish, is here. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts (and thank you as we make radio and podcasts from our homes).

— Megan Verlee

7:38 a.m. — We're all deep into this work from home adventure, together

Remember this guy and his delightful daughter from *2017*?

We all had a good laugh at the one and then returned to our routines secure in the knowledge that couldn't possibly ever happen to us. By now though, most of us are more than familiar with working by Zoom, or FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. I don't have children myself but from the looks of the daily CPR News editorial meeting, my coworkers know exactly what the gentleman interviewed on the BBC — his name is Robert Kelly, BTW — went through when the kids want some attention.

I'll admit, it's the best part of our daily meetings when the kids decide they just can't anymore.

It's not just video meetings, Ben Markus pointed out on Twitter it's just about anytime.

Oh, and Mr. Kelly? He lives and works in South Korea and the BBC checked back in with him while he was working from home. He has some advice for those among us having to balance extra parenting time with having to stay-at-home and work time.

Oh, the Denver Library is also stepping up to lend parents a hand with live storytime starting today on their YouTube channel.

— Jim Hill

7:07 a.m. — More economic numbers are out today

Later this morning, the February unemployment numbers will be released. These are trailing indicators since the numbers reflect last month, but economists are starting to get other data points on the worsening damage.

Colorado had more than 19,000 unemployment claims last week — a soaring 737 percent increase from the previous week as businesses laid off workers amid the coronavirus economic shutdown. Preliminary figures on from the state show that 45,000 people filed applications in the first three days of this week. That initial figure already doubled the record-breaking number for last week.

In Colorado, the worst week of the Great Recession saw about 8,000 claims. Of course, the 2008 crisis eliminated many more jobs in total, but the U.S. has never seen so many layoffs concentrated in such a short time.

The February unemployment numbers are expected to be released at 8:00 a.m.

— Andy Kenney, Jim Hill, The Associated Press

6:33 a.m. — 'Stay-at-home' order enforcement is on everybody's mind

You can take a walk in your neighborhood, but you can’t shake your neighbor's hand.

Cross-country skiing, that's allowed. Downhill skiing, no.

The responsibility of policing these profound shifts in the way we live falls on local law enforcement. Enforcement of the statewide stay-at-home order has been minimal. Police have focused on educating people on what's not allowed.

And, at least so far, Coloradans are taking the state and local orders seriously.

Police departments and sheriff's offices report only minor violations. And officers are focusing on explaining the new rules rather than arrests and citations. Things in Denver are a little more complicated though as the weekend approaches.

The City and County's stay-at-home order, which was issued before the state's, specifies that folks need to stay out of mountain communities. The worry is COVID-19 cases could spread and overwhelm those areas, with limited health care systems.

— Ben Markus, Michael Elizabeth Sakas

6:17 a.m. — This morning's case count

As of Thursday night, Colorado now has 1,430 known positive cases of the novel coronavirus. Across the state's counties, 39 have confirmed at least one case, 10,122 Coloradans have been tested and 184 are hospitalized.

That have been 24 deaths in the state.

Our lives have changed ...

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