Colorado Coronavirus Updates For April 10: Closures, Testing, Cases And More

Denver City and County Building lit in red and white first responders coronavirus
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Denver City and County Building lit in red and white Thursday night, April 9, 2020. The lighting was in honor of Denver’s first responders and essential workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

This post collects all of the updates and our reporting on the coronavirus in Colorado for Friday, April 10, 2020. You can find the weekend updates here. Our original play-by-play of reporting continues below.

8:03 p.m. — How are you crafters doing?

6:16 p.m. — Here's where coronavirus cases are in the state

5:54 p.m. — Food and hospitality workers continue to be the hardest hit

Coloradans who work in food services and lodging are by far the biggest filers for unemployment right now.

The state released new numbers that reflect the last full week in March. It shows that of the 66,491 people who filed for unemployment that week, nearly a third — 21,142 — were from the food service and accommodation industries.

The next highest number — 9,717 — are people who were employed in health care and social assistance, which includes daycare workers. People previously working in retail followed next for most unemployment claims in Colorado, with 7,400.

The overall number, 66,491 unemployment claims in a week, is staggering. The state labor department says it is more than eight times the peak period during the Great Recession.

Rachel Estabrook

5:45 p.m. — JBS will test all of its Greeley employees and deep clean the meatpacking plant over the Easter holiday

JBS Greeley Beef Plant
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The JBS Greeley Beef Plant on Friday April 3, 2020.

JBS will test all 6,000 of its employees at the Greeley meatpacking plant over the long holiday weekend for the new coronavirus.

In a statement on Friday, JBS said it had reached out earlier in the week to Gov. Jared Polis and Sen. Cory Gardner to secure the large number of tests required.

The company said it will also use the weekend to "further enhance" deep cleaning the facility.

There are 36 JBS employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the company's statement.

In a letter from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 also published on Friday, union president Kim Cordova said two JBS workers have now died due to the disease.

The death of Eduardo Conchas de la Cruz, 60, joins that of Saul Sanchez, 78, announced earlier in the week.

The union letter — addressed to Polis, the executive director of Weld County's health department and the JBS labor relations manager — called on the company to go a step further and close for an entire week for cleaning.

— Alex Scoville

4:33 p.m. — Red Rocks trails close to the public

The Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre announced Friday that the City of Denver had ordered the park closed effective 6 p.m. today.

The amphitheater portion of the park has been closed for several weeks, but the trails around the venue were still open to the public.

The venue will reopen after May 11, unless Denver orders city-owned venues to continue to stay closed for longer.

— Alex Scoville

4:26 p.m. — Colorado orders $46 million in medical supplies

Coronavirus Masks Gloves Donated At CU Anschutz
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
After a donation drive, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers starts to pile up in a warehouse at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus on Friday, March 27, 2020.

The Colorado Unified Command Group has ordered more than $46 million in medical supplies to help combat the new coronavirus.

That includes hundreds of ventilators and respirators, thousands of face shields and disposable gowns and millions of masks and gloves.

The supplies will be tested for quality before the state distributes them across local health departments and hospitals.

“These are extraordinary efforts in place to effectively deal with a lack of national strategy for the disrupted supply chain that is making it near impossible for acquiring the needed supplies to effectively manage the health crisis,” said Scott Bookman, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment's COVID-19 incident commander.

— Alex Scoville

4:18 p.m. — Take a look inside the construction of the Convention Center pop-up medical site

Jared Polis Colorado Convention Center COVIS-19 Pop Up Treatment
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
At Denver’s Colorado Convention Center on Friday, April 10, 2020, where the state is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to build a 2,000-bed pop-up treatment facility to accommodate an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.
Jared Polis Colorado Convention Center COVIS-19 Pop Up Treatment
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
At Denver’s Colorado Convention Center on Friday, April 10, 2020, where the state is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to build a 2,000-bed pop-up treatment facility to accommodate an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.
Jared Polis Colorado Convention Center COVIS-19 Pop Up Treatment
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Gov. Jared Polis speaks to the news media at Denver’s Colorado Convention Center on Friday, April 10, 2020, where the state is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to build a 2,000-bed pop-up treatment facility to accommodate an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

Read more about the Convention Center site and see more photos here.

— Hart Van Denburg

4:11 p.m. — The latest coronavirus numbers

There are 6,510 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Colorado as of April 9, according to the lates numbers from state health officials.

That marks an increase of 308 from the day before.

Twenty-four more people have died due to COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 250.

There are 1,312 hospitalized cases.

There are also five more outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities, bringing the total across Colorado to 59.

The state has tested at least 32,653 people.

— Alex Scoville

3:56 p.m. — This is how COVID-19 has changed the ICU for one Denver physician

For Dr. Marc Moss, a critical care pulmonologist at the University of Colorado Hospital, the pandemic brought two key changes to the intensive care unit.

First, it's time-consuming to put on and take off personal protective equipment over and over.

Second, families and friends aren’t allowed to see patients with COVID-19 — it’s too contagious. That means the hospital staff are video conferencing with patients’ loved ones, trying to build rapport.

“They're very concerned about their loved one who's critically ill or the patient's concerned about their own health,” Moss said. “You have to build the trust with someone you've never met before. Now just imagine you have to do that through a video conference, and you're wearing a mask, so they can't see your facial expression.”

Moss said that the sense of community among the hospital staff and even the appreciation of the broader Colorado community buoys his spirits during a tough time.

“The crisis can tear people apart or the crisis can bring people together. And I think in the hospital there's a common goal, and the common goal is we all are there to provide the best care to our patients that are in need. It's a moral commitment that way. I really do feel that this has bonded people together,” Moss said.

A couple nights ago, he stepped out on his porch and heard Denverites howling their support and appreciation.

“Some of my neighbors were like, ‘Hey Marc, I hope you're doing okay,’ and ‘We're pulling for you.’”

— Michelle P. Fulcher

2:25 p.m. — The JBS outbreak has caught the attention of the White House

JBS Greeley Beef Plant
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The JBS Greeley Beef Plant on Friday April 3, 2020.

The outbreak of COVID-19 at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley has caught the attention of the White House.

Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence addressed the spread of the new coronavirus at the facility in the daily White House coronavirus task force briefing.

Health officials in Weld County say at least 30 JBS employees have tested positive for COVID-19. One worker has died due to the disease.

"I saw it this morning. I'm looking at everything smooth, going down, topping out, then you have this one spike in Denver. It's like, 'Where did this come from?' So, we'll be looking at that," Trump said in response to a question about testing at food processing plants.

Pence said the task force was in communication with Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and Gov. Jared Polis about the JBS issue.

"I want to encourage people in Colorado that we will work to support that effort," Pence said. "I also want to emphasize that all the people working in food supply — from farmers to meatpackers to distributors to truckers to grocers — continue to have our gratitude."

Questions about JBS also reached Polis at his own Friday afternoon press briefing. In Spanish, the governor told reporters he was in communication with top executives for the meatpacking company.

— Alex Scoville

1:32 p.m. — The pop-up medical site at the Convention Center will work like the field hospital in Central Park

Polis Convention Center 200410
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis updates reporters on the state's battle against the spread of coronavirus on Friday, April 10, 2020.

Gov. Jared Polis spoke Friday just outside the main hall of the Colorado Convention Center, where the state is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to build a pop-up treatment facility.

The field site will house 2,000 beds the state is creating to accommodate an expected surge in cases — if needed.

“I really hope that we don’t have to use this facility at all,” Polis said, sporting both a hard hat and his Colorado-themed face mask scrunched down while he spoke. “But looking at the numbers, it’s certainly possible there will need to be hundreds of patients here or dozens of patients here.”

Get the full story from the governor's remarks today here.

— Rachel Estabrook

Noon — Gov. Polis' latest update on coronavirus

The governor is scheduled to speak from the Colorado Convention Center at 12:30 p.m. MDT. CPR News will carry his remarks live as soon as he starts to speak (these tend to start late). Find a station near you, ask your smart speaker to "Play CPR News" or watch the video feed below.

11:51 am — RTD gets on board with social distancing

RTD will now limit the number of people who can board buses and trains to promote social distancing. According to a press release the transit agency will: 

  • Limit capacity to approximately 15 passengers per bus and 20 on larger buses
  • If necessary, buses will bypass stops if social distancing limits are reached
  • Add additional buses on the most popular routes and stage buses in those areas as available
  • Limit capacity to approximately 30 on rail cars.

Up to this point, RTD had resisted placing limits on passengers despite protests from the drivers' union and board member Shontel Lewis.

"Finally! Lewis tweeted Friday. "Geeezz!"

— Nathaniel Minor

11:08 a.m. — The Academy To Get A Zoom-Style Pence Commencement Speech 

Vice President Mike Pence will address the cadets who graduate on April 18 from the U.S. Air Force Academy, though not in person. Instead, Pence will be piped in via video address for the graduation, according to several TV news sites.

The academy's senior class commencement ceremony will be held six weeks early due to the new coronavirus. The event is closed to any visitors, though family and friends will be able to watch a live stream of the event.

For the first time, 60 of the graduating seniors will be commissioned into the newly-created Space Force.

Underclassmen were dismissed from the academy in the middle of March due to the pandemic.

— Dan Boyce

10:00 a.m. — Friday Mid-Morning Happy Go Fun Break Club

We’ve all made it the end of the week and let me be the first to say “welcome weary indoor warrior who hasn’t properly worn pants outside of sweats for a while and like me has given up shaving — You LOOK marvelous!”

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A duck shakes it off at the Denver Botanic Gardens, April 7, 2020.

Colorado is starting to get antsy about the stay-at-home orders — you can hear in the governor’s voice when he answers questions about reopening (Check out his latest interview with Colorado Matters) — and we’re all finding our own ways to deal. Maybe you’re into the howl, the nightly moment to thank first responders that has morphed into a cathartic yap at the moon to let out our own frustrations or to let the kids burn off all that anxious energy.

Whatever you’re doing, I tip my face mask to you. Like the fun duck photo above you deserve a few moments that these links can provide:

— Jim Hill

9:18 a.m. — What's social distancing look like right now in Downtown Denver?

8:30 a.m. — Gunnison County (Colorado) temporarily banned all non-residents. Texas has a problem with that

The Texas attorney general has requested that Gunnison County undo part of its local COVID-19 health order that temporarily requires non-residents to leave. Ken Paxton referenced the Gunnison County situation during an appearance on Fox and Friends on Thursday:

"We’ve seen it from Texans that have gone to other states like Colorado," he told the hosts. "There have been states that have tried to kick Texans out even though they have homes in other states. I don’t think that’s constitutional."

The order didn't come from the state — it's just the county — and those local officials have said non-residents drain essential services and could be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. They say they're already struggling with the local patient load.

— Bente Birkeland

8:05 a.m. — Gov. Polis will speak today

The governor will deliver an update on the state's response to the coronavirus from the Colorado Convention Center today at 12:30 p.m. MDT. CPR News will carry his remarks live. Find a signal near you or ask your smart speaker to "Play CPR News."

7:51 a.m. — Can plasma help treat the coronavirus?

Several Colorado patients with serious COVID-19 symptoms received convalescent plasma, a treatment that doctors say shows promise. Scott Kaplan, a 43-year-old patient with multiple sclerosis got the treatment on Sunday and has shown improvement.

The treatment involves the plasma from someone who's recovered from COVID-19 and transfusing it into someone who is currently sick. That passes disease-fighting antibodies from donor to recipient.

"There is hope in this treatment," said Dr. Kyle Annen, medical director of the blood bank at Children's Hospital Colorado. "However, it's not a certainty, but it's great that we have this one additional thing in our arsenal to try to fight COVID-19."

The treatment was used during the H1N1 flu epidemic in 2009-10 and during the 1918 Spanish Flu.

— Claire Cleveland

7:22 a.m. — Aspen eyes its own stimulus and relief package

Aspen is looking to give $6 million dollars in stimulus money to help residents during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Aspen Times reports the city council gave initial approval to the money Thursday to help residents and businesses with expenses like rent and mortgage assistance, child care and personal protective equipment. It will also help with housing, utility payments and food assistance.

The city will borrow from Wheeler Opera House reserves to secure the money. Council will make a final determination on the move on Tuesday.

— Andrew Villegas

6:37 a.m. — At least 30 test positive at JBS plant in Greeley

Health officials in Weld County say at least 30 employees at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley have tested positive for COVID-19. They say they expect that number to change as an investigation continues.

Officials say the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment has the authority to shut down any business that doesn't comply with a public health order on social distancing but there's no indication they will do so as conversations with the company continue.

— Andrew Villegas

6:25 a.m. — Where cases stand this morning

Gov. Jared Polis said Colorado can now do 10 times as many COVID-19 tests daily than it was able to do a few weeks ago. As the governor sees it, the state must be able to do even more testing in order to lift the current stay-at-home order on April 26.

"Because we need to be in a more nimble position to quarantine individuals and folks they've been in contact with, rather than essentially what’s happening now, which is a quarantining of everybody with the stay-at-home order."

There are currently 6,202 known positive cases of coronavirus in Colorado with 56 out of 64 counties with at least one case. So far, 1,221 have been hospitalized and there have been 226 deaths.

Colorado is now averaging more than 1,800 tests a day. But the state has still tested just one-half of 1 percent of its population — 31,180 people tested. Polis told Colorado Matters that once he lifts the stay-at-home order, testing will play an even larger role for people with symptoms.

— Corey H. Jones, Jim Hill