Colorado Coronavirus Updates For April 13: Closures, Testing, Cases And More

Jared Polis Colorado Convention Center COVIS-19 Pop Up Treatment
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Gov. Jared Polis speaks 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.

This post collects all of our reporting and updates on the coronavirus in Colorado for Monday, April 13, 2020. The latest news for Tuesday is right here. Our original play-by-play of reporting continues below.

7:58 p.m. — This is John and Kate. Ask them anything tomorrow

6:27 p.m. — No cars, no problem

David Sachs/Denverite
Fancy riding on the South Marion Parkway, which is closed to cars and open to radness. April 11, 2020. (David Sachs/Denverite)

Fancy riding over the weekend on the South Marion Parkway in downtown Denver, one of the roads the city closed to cars. Don't worry: it's still open to (socially distant) radness.

— David Sachs

6:07 p.m. — Coronavirus cases are more prevalent among racial minorities in Colorado

The COVID-19 outbreak is more prevalent among African American, Hispanic and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander people in Colorado, according to new data from the state.

For example, while Latino people make up about 22 percent of the state’s population, they are about 28 percent of its COVID-19 cases. While black people are about 4 percent of the population, they represent about 7 percent of cases.

The differences for all three groups are statistically significant, according to state officials. The effect was the opposite for white and Asian people, who made up a disproportionately small portion of cases.

The racial breakdown of coronavirus cases in Colorado.

“There have been generations of institutionalized barriers to things like preventive medical care, healthy food, safe and stable housing, quality education, reliable transportation, and clean air. Research shows that these types of factors are the most predictive of health outcomes,” said Jill Hunsaker-Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 

“There is much to be learned from this disaster, and the uneven effects of COVID-19 on different communities will perhaps be one of the most profound lessons," Hunsaker-Ryan continued. "It’s apparent now more than ever why we must bridge these inequities and even more closely track the outcomes of COVID-19 by race and ethnicity.”

The state has released demographic data for about 75 percent of COVID-19 cases.

— Andrew Kenney

4:25 p.m. — JBS meatpacking plant to close for at least two weeks

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

A new health department order published Monday instructs the plant to stay closed until it finishes testing its thousands of employees, disinfecting the facility and implementing social distancing practices.

There are 43 confirmed positive cases among JBS workers. A second plant employee died last week, according to the Weld County Department of Health and Environment.

JBS has come under fire by the United Food and Comercial Workers Local 7, the union that represents most JBS workers, and the families of the workers. They both say the company failed to take sufficient action against COVID-19.

Read the full story here.

— Natalia Navarro

4:07 p.m. — The latest coronavirus numbers in Colorado

There are now 7,691 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado as of Sunday, April 12, according to state health officials.

That's an increase of 388 from the day before.

The state has crossed 300 deaths, with a statewide total of 308. That's an increase of 18 from the previous day.

Nearly 1,500 cases have been hospitalized. There are now 72 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities.

Colorado has tested nearly 39,000 people.

— Alex Scoville

4:03 p.m. — This is the first Pueblo long-term care facility to have a COVID-19 outbreak

There are dozens of long-term care facilities across Colorado with coronavirus outbreaks, and Pueblo just got its first.

The Brookdale El Camino has four staff members and six residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. The first positive case, in a staffer, was confirmed in late March.

The facility has not allowed visitors since March 13, and will continue the policy indefinitely. Brookdale El Camino professionally disinfected and cleaned its facility this past weekend.

— Alex Scoville

3:18 p.m. — Preexisting lung diseases and living conditions put Colorado refugees at greater risk

Courtesy of P.J. Parmar
Dr. P.J. Parmar, a family physician, outside his clinic at Mango House, a shared space for refugees and asylum seekers, on April 13.

They suffered persecution in their homelands and survived dislocation in camps. Now refugees who have settled in Colorado face the coronavirus, and many find their life journeys have left them especially susceptible.

Years of breathing in dangerous particles from burning wood, cow dung or other can lead to lung disease called "hut lung," said Dr. P.J. Parmar, a family physician who works with refugees. Like other respiratory conditions, hut lung can worsen a person's case of COVID-19.

"For some (refugees) it's been decades of this, and it leads to a form of (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which can require different inhalers, and therefore also make coronavirus response worse," Parmar said.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a condition that obstructs airflow from the lungs. 

Parmar says half of the refugees he’s tested for COVID-19 are positive. The virus spreads quickly among people who live in crowded apartments, take public transportation and are classified as essential workers — all common situations for refugees.  

Language barriers don’t help, and neither do endless medical abbreviations.  Refugees may not know that “ICU” means “intensive care unit."

“One family came and told me, ‘Oh, our family member’s in the hospital.’  They didn't tell me that they're in the ICU. I'm only able to look that up on the computer,” Parmar said.  “Whereas others are able to explain the gravity of that situation. I mean, Americans I know who are going through this are more readily able to grasp that that's a different category of hospital, for example. And that could be a much more serious situation.”

Hear more of the interview with Dr. P.J. Parmar on today's Colorado Matters podcast.

— Nell London

2:46 p.m. — CU Boulder donates 130,000 pieces of PPE to health officials

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 University of Colorado Boulder donated more than 130,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, or PPE, to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management to hand out to hospitals and other providers.

The face shields, gloves, shoe covers and other gear were taken from supplies used for research and other purposes, whether it's in chemistry labs or the library.

The school is reserving some PPE for health care providers and other essential workers who work on campus.

“We were hoping for five to ten departments to donate a few items,” said Garry DeJong, director of campus emergency management, in a statement. “Once the word got out about the donations drive, the CU partners just continually kept stepping up.”

— Alex Scoville

2:11 p.m. — Want to know where your relief check is? The IRS will let you track it

Tracking for those who don't file taxes is available now, and tracking for those who did file is coming soon. Full details here.

1:00 p.m — Polis says state soon will provide racial data and hospital discharges

Andrew Kenney/CPR News
Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday that the state of Colorado will soon be releasing information on racial data and hospital discharges related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Jared Polis began his first update of the week with the announcement that two pieces of information that the public has clamored for will soon be available.

The state will be adding racial data and feel that they have 75 percent of the total information, but not all of it has been collected. Additionally, the state will start to report hospital discharges of patients whose condition has improved.

Read the full story here.

12:01 p.m — Gov. Polis scheduled to update Colorado on state's coronavirus response

Gov. Jared Polis is set to brief Coloradans on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic at 12:15 p.m. The briefing at the governor's residence at Boettcher Mansion will also include questions from the press.

CPR News will carry the governor's remarks live on air and online. Click Listen Live above, find other ways to listen, or watch the video below.

10:38 a.m — Emoji poll: Which of these icons best represents your stay-at-home experience?

With (at least) 13 days remaining before Colorado's statewide stay-at-home order is lifted, we're asking our social media audience how their indoors time has been going.

So, with nearly two weeks to go, are you a ?, a ?, a ? or a ?? Go ahead and respond to that and other questions with emoji answers on Twitter:

9:50 a.m — Mortenson settles Colorado Convention Center bid-rigging case, includes COVID-19 construction services

*(Updated @ 11:03 a.m.) Editor's Note: This story has been updated after the state attorney general's office offered more details and clarified Phil Weiser's statements on the settlement.

Developer giant Mortenson Company has agreed to pay the state a settlement of $650,000 and provide in-kind construction services for related COVID-19 sites.

Mortenson has been under criminal investigation by state Attorney General Phil Weiser for bid-rigging in the city of Denver's $233 million expansion of the Colorado Convention Center. As part of an agreement announced Monday, Mortenson officials will pay the state money and retrofit the convention center for COVID patients at no cost to the city government.

Weiser said Mortenson violated the public trust.

— Allison Sherry

8:50 a.m. — Polis to speak today

The governor will deliver an update on the state's response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Polis is scheduled to speak from the Governor's Residence at Boettcher Manson at 12:15 p.m. CPR News will carry his remarks live. Find a station near you or ask your smart speaker to "Play CPR News."

8:24 a.m. — You've heard of Zoom meetings, Zoom playdates and Zoom happy hours. Now SCOTUS will do teleconference oral arguments

The Supreme Court says it will hold arguments by teleconference in May in key cases, including President Donald Trump’s bid to shield his tax and other financial records.

The court will make live audio of the arguments available for the first time. It had previously postponed courtroom arguments for March and April because of the coronavirus.

Colorado Department of State v. Baca, the case about the 'faithless electors' is in this group — originally Attorney General Phil Weiser was going to argue the state's case at the end of this month.

— Allison Sherry, Associated Press

7:44 a.m. — A look at the bright side moment

There's a spring snowstorm out there and, thanks to the stay-at-home order, you don't really have to go outside and drive in it. At this point, you can actually roll over, pull the blankets over your head and sleep in — just like you've always threatened to do.

— Jim Hill

7: 33 a.m — Tele Town Halls are how our Congress folk get the job done, with a little help from Polis

Virtual town halls have become a major way Colorado policymakers are connecting with the public — to answer questions and try to provide updates about what’s going on at the federal, state and local levels. And the effort has crossed party lines. 

Recently, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis joined Republican Sen. Cory Gardner for one of these events, to speak about how they've worked together.

“And he's been extremely helpful in making introductions for the state of Colorado to suppliers in Vietnam and South Korea,” Polis told Coloradans on the call, referring to Gardner’s seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Gardner’s Senate seat is one that Democrats would like to flip in November.

Polis, who served in the House before he became governor, has made the rounds of Congressional town halls. Conor Cahill, a spokesman for Polis, said the governor has had near-daily phone calls with members of the delegation throughout this public health crisis. 

“He wants to ensure Coloradans have the ability to hear from him and his administration directly during this challenging time for our state,” Cahill said. “He has worked with and dug in with the federal delegation to ensure federal dollars flow back to Colorado’s small businesses, and hardworking people”

Polis has also joined Democratic Reps. Joe Neguse and Jason Crow at their virtual town halls. Crow said the governor told all members of the delegation he'd be willing to participate.

“And I think it just shows the extent to which the elected officials in this state are committed to working together,” Crow said. 

The governor, Cahill said, understands the virus does not care about people’s political leanings. The effort pulls on the governor’s past federal experience and relationships with the delegation. 

Polis is expected to join Democratic representative Ed Perlmutter for a telephone town hall Monday evening. 

Congress members have also had public health officials and local leaders participate in their constituent calls too.

— Caitlyn Kim

7:13 a.m. — Denver's Civic Center Park closed

Denver has closed Civic Center Park and nearby areas — including Lincoln Park, MacIntosh Park, Pioneer Monument and the Public Library lawn — until further notice Sunday to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Park rangers will be there for enforcement. This comes days after Denver Parks and Recreation announced it is also closing the parks at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

— Taylor Allen

6:41 a.m. — Easter Sunday mass went on at Denver’s Cathedral Basilica this weekend

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was empty Sunday save for the men carrying on Easter Mass. Archbishop Samuel Joseph Aquila said it was the first time he'd seen the room empty for the holiday.

Instead, the service was live-streamed for worshippers at home in isolation.

“This is, by far, the most unique Easter that any of us have ever celebrated during our lifetime,” Aquila said from the pulpit.

But Aquila said there were blessings in this odd time. Parents have found joy in spending so much time with their kids. Hopefully, he said, that will carry on when this is all over.

— Kevin J. Beaty

6:33 a.m. — Where cases stand today

Coloradans will soon get access to more information about nursing homes where the new coronavirus has taken hold. The state had been requiring formal requests before the names of elder care facilities with outbreaks were released.

Now they say, starting Wednesday, the state public health department plans to release reports every week. That data will show outbreaks, confirmed positive cases and deaths related to COVID-19 at elder care facilities.

There are 7,303 known positive cases of the coronavirus in Colorado, of which 1,417 have been hospitalized and 290 have died. Case numbers are influenced by how much testing is going on and that’s extremely limited and inconsistent across the state's counties.

As of the state's Sunday update, there have been 68 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities.

— Rachael Estabrook, Jim Hill

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