Colorado Coronavirus Updates For May 1: Reopenings, Testing, Cases And More

tomeka robinson, r mtomeka robinson, r mDavid Zalubowski/AP
Tomeka Robinson gestures after receiving protective gear from a member of the Service Employees International Union to deal with the dangers of the new coronavirus Wednesday, April 29, 2020, in Denver. The union joined forces with Colorado Care Workers Unite to distribute 20,000 Level 1 surgical masks and hand sanitizer to frontline health care, home care, janitors, airport and security workers at the union's headquarters in west Denver.

This post collects all of our updates and reporting on the coronavirus in Colorado for Friday, May 1. You can find the weekend blog here. Our original play-by-play of reporting continues below.


5:00 p.m. — State hotline opened to calls about racial bias, social distancing violations

The state has opened its 2-1-1 hotline to calls alleging workplace violations related to the coronavirus or complaints about racial discrimination in testing and treatment.

The state hotline, which has been running since 2002, is typically a place to find state resources for mental health crises or other needs handled by human services departments.

But since activists raised questions about higher-than-expected hospitalization and death rates among minority groups related to COVID-19, the state has moved toward taking calls related to complaints about discrimination in treatment.

"We know bias within medical settings leads to poor outcomes for people of color," said State Rep. Leslie Herod in a release praising the state for expanding usage of 2-1-1. "Now we’ll be able to collect those complaints and act swiftly to address them."

The hotline, also found online at 211colorado.org can also provide resources for understanding COVID-19.

The state is also now taking complaints about workplace violations during the crisis at the hotline.

— Chuck Murphy

4:20 p.m. — Another drop in hospitalizations as official Colorado death toll crosses 800

The number of Coloradans hospitalized by confirmed cases of COVID-19 fell for a third day, as the state's official death toll crossed another milestone.

In numbers released by the state health department at 4 p.m., 737 people were reported hospitalized with confirmed cases of the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Another 222 people are hospitalized as "persons under investigation" for COVID-19.

The number has been on a general downward trend as much of the state prepares for the return of business operations on Monday.

With 88 percent of hospitals reporting, the state had 654 available critical care ventilators - more than half of the state's 1,076 total ventilators.

Colorado's official death toll from COVID-19 rose to 820 with deaths reported through Thursday.

— Chuck Murphy

3:00 p.m. — Colorado Symphony postpones more shows through end of May

The remainder of the Colorado Symphony's season will be postponed and some events canceled outright through May 31. Ticketholders will be notified of their options via email.

The postponements align with Denver's extended stay-at-home order and the state's new safer-at-home order.

Patrons can exchange their tickets for credit on events through the end of the year or donate the money they spent to help the symphony financially. Patrons can see a list of postponed or canceled shows, or check the status of future performances, here.

— Andrew Villegas, Jim Hill

1:44 p.m. — Black and Latino residents represent a disproportionate number of coronavirus cases in Denver

Latinos make up about 30 percent of Denver's population but they account for 45 percent of all COVID-19 cases. That's according to data from Denver Public Health, which is tracking who is getting coronavirus by race and ethnicity.

Their numbers show Black residents also face disproportionate infection rates. The groups are also hospitalized more than others when they get COVID-19. Experts are not sure why this is the case but suggest it could be due to employment and living situations.

— Esteban Hernandez

Noon — Polis to speak

The governor will hold a remote briefing scheduled today at 1:00 p.m. CPR News will carry live coverage. Find a signal near you or ask your smart speaker to "play CPR News."

10:36 a.m. — How are you feeling about Monday?

9:58 a.m. — The state budget-cutting is starting and already it’s not pretty

Gov. Polis has outlined a plan to rapidly cut the state budget by $228.7 million dollars over the next two months, that’s when this fiscal year ends. 

The savings come from all across state government. Polis proposed to freeze spending on everything from a loan forgiveness program for teachers to funds for the civil air patrol. The state’s child welfare hotline and a tipline for school threats are also slated for cuts.

The real bulk of the savings though — $183 million — appears to be money the state thought it would have to spend on Medicaid, but won't, because the federal government has increased its share of that cost during the pandemic. The 6.2 percent increase was part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

In a press release announcing the budget-balancing plan, Polis' office described the cuts as a “targeted and practical approach,” noting they don’t require layoffs or furloughs, nor are they across the board.

The cuts proposed by the governor only get Colorado through the end of this fiscal year, on June 30. State lawmakers are already preparing for cuts of ten percent or more to the next budget.

— Megan Verlee

9:01 a.m. — Polis will speak today

Polis will deliver an update remotely today on the state response to coronavirus scheduled at 1:00 p.m. MDT. Colorado Public Radio will carry his remarks live when he starts to speak. Find a signal near you or ask your smart speaker to "play CPR News."

8:21 a.m. — It's May 1, so personal service businesses can reopen if they so choose

Most barbers and cosmetologists are allowed to return to work today. However, not everyone plans to go back right away — or can. Some counties, like Adams County, have extended stay-at-home orders that end on May 8. Anna Nelson is a cosmetologist in the county and her salon's owners may reopen then but she's still worried.

"I am scared to go back due to the fact that some of my health reasons — if I do end get sick there is a very likely chance I will not survive it," she said.

But Jerry Vasquez, the owner of the Downtown Barbershop in Colorado Springs, looks forward to cutting hair again starting today, even if clients aren't following all of the public health recommendations.

"Whatever they want to do," he said. "If they want to come in without a mask, I got one. That’s all that matters."

Vasquez said old and new clients have been calling him throughout the week to see if he'll be open for business.

— Hayley Sanchez

7:37 a.m. — What else is in the governor's late-night exec orders?

Polis moved Thursday to extend orders to allow remote notarization of documents and letting couples get marriage licenses without having to appear in person. He also strengthened his earlier order on evictions that bar property owners from carrying them out in most circumstances. Landlords are also prohibited from charging late fees or other penalties to tenants who can’t make rent.

The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing was told to direct funds to nursing homes and care facilities.

And unaffiliated political candidates got a boost from the governor; he pushed back the deadline for them to submit signatures to get on the ballot to the end of July.

— Megan Verlee

7:11 a.m. — No, Wolf Creek will not be reopening to scratch your spring skiing itch and neither will any other hills

As part of a flurry of late-night executive orders, Gov. Polis extended the closure of all Colorado’s downhill ski areas until May 23.

Wolf Creek ski area, in southwest Colorado, had hoped to re-open this weekend. The Colorado Sun reported Wolf Creek's owner already had the OK from local officials but still needed to get the state on board. Instead, Polis has now effectively ended the season statewide.

— Megan Verlee

6:58 a.m. — Von Miller has recovered from COVID-19

Denver Broncos star linebacker Von Miller tweeted Thursday night that he tested negative for the coronavirus two weeks after announcing he had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The MVP of Super Bowl 50 is the highest-profile American athlete to announce he's been diagnosed with the virus that has killed more than 60,000 people in the United States and sent millions into unemployment. Miller went public with his diagnosis on April 16, saying he wanted to show that the virus could affect anybody, even a young, world-class athlete in tip-top shape.

— Associated Press

6:29 a.m. — Colorado now has 100,000 coronavirus tests bought from South Korea

Colorado was one of two states to get tests from South Korea. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner has ties to the country through his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and helped secure the tests. Gov. Jared Polis told CPR’s Colorado Matters the state kept the deal under wraps until it was final.

"We don’t want to give the competition, which could mean other countries, could mean our own country, could mean other states, we don’t want to give them a heads up on what we’re doing."

When asked about how the state paid for the needed tests, Polis replied "Cash. Hard, cold, cash."

South Korea has also provided tests to Maryland — the state's first lady was born there.

— Bente Birkeland

Thursday's Live Blog.