Coronavirus In Colorado-March 30 Updates: Low Interest Biz Loans, Artist Relief Fund, And More

This post will be updated throughout the day.

Update: 5:40 p.m. 

---Local, Low Interest Loans Available For Small Businesses---

Small businesses in Colorado Springs and El Paso County affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for up to $25,000 in funds aimed at providing emergency financial relief. 

The low-interest loan program, called "Survive & Thrive COS," comes from the non-profit startup accelerator Exponential Impact, in partnership with the City of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation.

Hannah Parsons, board member of Exponential Impact, says because it is a local loan program, they're able to turn around funding within a week of application. And, she says, they're not asking for collateral. 

"Our goal is to make this no-barrier and get funding into the business hands as quickly as possible," she says.

High priority businesses include the food industry, retail shops, and other businesses that have been forced to close, are struggling to pay rent and utilities, and have had to lay off staff as a result of COVID-19.

"This is going to allow our local businesses to weather the storm, and when we are back, and we are going to be back, it's going to put them in a position to be able to thrive," said Bob Cope with the city's Economic Development department.

Business with the equivalent of 2-25 full time employees are eligible to apply. Funds will be distributed over a three-month period. The repayment process would span, at most, three years, with 0% interest and no payments required in the first year. Interest will increase by 1% over each of the next two years.

Funding for the program comes from investments by local leaders, organizations and business professionals. Parsons says they have more than $1 million committed for the program, with a goal of reaching $5 million committed as soon as possible.

---Artist Recovery Fund For El Paso And Teller Counties---

The Bee Vradenburg Foundation and Pikes Peak Community Foundation are coming together to help support individual artists and local creatives who have lost work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing stay-in-place order.

Artists who have lost work can apply for emergency funds aimed at covering basic human needs. Most grants will be roughly $500 to help cover the most urgent needs.

---UCCS To Hold Virtual Commencement Ceremony---

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs announced Monday that spring commencement will be held virtually. 

"Unfortunately, an in-person spring commencement is not feasible," said Chancellor Venkat Reddy in a statement. "Unique times require unique solutions, and we are committed to recreating an environment where all of our graduates can fee seen and honored for their tremendous accomplishments."

The decision was made in consultation with Student Government Association leaders, other graduating seniors and with leadership in each of the colleges. Students graduating in May will also be invited to participate in the fall 2020 or spring 2021 ceremonies.

Update: 4:15 p.m.

---New Data Shows Known Positive Cases of COVID-19 Total Over 2,600---

Data released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows over 2,600 known positive cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the state. These cases include people who tested positively for the virus and cases where a public health official has determined that infection is likely because of symptoms and close contact with a person who tested positive. The data reflects information through March 29.

As Gov. Polis announced earlier today during a press conference, the data also shows 51 deaths due to COVID-19 and 414 hospitalizations.

Over 15,000 people have been tested for the virus and it is present in 47 counties.

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

  • El Paso – 245
  • Douglas – 119
  • Pueblo – 16*
  • Chaffee – 15
  • Teller – 8
  • Elbert – 4
  • Otero – 3
  • Fremont – 2
  • Kit Carson – 1
  • Huerfano – 1
  • Crowley – 1

*According to an update from Sarah Joseph, a spokesperson for the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment, public health officials in the county have recorded 21 confirmed positive cases, but this number is not yet reflected in the statewide data.

Update: 2:00 p.m.

---Gov. Polis Provides Update---

Gov. Jared Polis provided an update Monday on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Polis said the federal major disaster declaration, approved on Saturday, unlocks access to more federal resources. He also reiterated the need for continued social distancing and the stay-at-home order, saying that "it's important to pace ourselves," and that it's a time Coloradans need to be more together than ever before.

He said the data from the work force reduction and stay-at-home order won't be known for another week. But the impact of closing bars and restaurants to dine-in service is starting to show up in the slowing of the rate at which the number of new cases doubles.

Polis announced new partial figures for the state. Among them: 51 deaths.

Update: 12:23 p.m.

---Colorado Springs King Soopers Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19---

An employee at a King Soopers grocery store in Colorado Springs has tested positive for COVID-19. According to El Paso County health officials, this person continued to work even while experiencing symptoms.  

Health officials want to alert anyone who may have been at the King Soopers location at Academy and Woodman on March 19, 21-25 and 28, "out of an abundance of caution," according to a release.

"We felt it was important to make people aware," said Dr. Robin Johnson, El Paso County Public Health Medical Director, in a statement. "While there is no need to panic, we encourage people to monitor for symptoms."

In the release, El Paso County Public Health says the agency leaned of the situation on Sunday evening and began working with the store on sanitation and cleaning procedures. Officials say. "King Soopers has been diligently following all disinfecting guidelines from local, state and federal public health agencies and has been regularly disinfecting and cleaning."

Health officials say anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19—which can include fever, cough, shortness of breath—should self-isolate. If medical advice is needed, folks should call a health care provider or nurse line before going in person to a medical facility.

If you don't have symptoms but know you have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has symptoms, you should self-quarantine.

The agency says most people with COVID-19 will only experience mild symptoms.

Original post:

Three additional deaths related to the new coronavirus were reported in Colorado Sunday bringing the total to 47. The number of known cases in the state increased to 2,307, up nearly 250 from yesterday.

Officials with the state department of public health and environment say COVID-19 has been found in 46 of Colorado's 64 counties.

El Paso County continues to lead the state in deaths with 11, followed by Weld County with 9.