SATURDAY MARCH 21, 2020

DENVER | The novel coronavirus continues to spread across Colorado, reaching 363 confirmed cases, the state health department said Friday afternoon. An increase of 86 in one day. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment counted four deaths as of Friday. 

As of the Friday data release, 44 patients have been hospitalized because of the virus. There have been 29 cases in Arapahoe County, 12 cases in Adams County and 67 cases in Denver, according to state data. 

About 10 percent of the approximately 3600 people tested so far have shown positive results, according to Friday’s report.

CDPHE updates its coronavirus data regularly, but the official count remains a day behind actual cases and may not affect the true number of confirmed patients, the health department says. 

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

THURSDAY MARCH 19, 2020

DENVER | The novel coronavirus continues to spread across Colorado, reaching 277 confirmed cases, the state health department said Thursday afternoon. That’s up from just over 180 cases two days ago. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment counted two deaths as of yesterday. Since then, an El Paso County man in his 60s died due to the virus. 

As of the Thursday data release, 38 patients have been hospitalized because of the virus. 22 of those cases were in either Arapahoe or Adams counties, according to state data. 

Almost 3,000 people have tested so far.

CDPHE updates its coronavirus data regularly, but the official count remains a day behind actual cases and may not affect the true number of confirmed patients, the health department says. 

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer 

WEDNESDAY MARCH 18, 2020

Drew Riedlin unloads lunches from a school bus before giving out free breakfasts and lunches to families of Aurora Public School Students, March 17, 2020 at Dalton Elementary.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

Gov. Polis orders schools closed through April 17

DENVER | Governor Jared Polis on Wednesday ordered all prekindergarten through 12th grade schools to close from March 23 to April 17. 

The order applies to both private and public schools. Aurora school districts had previously planned to stay closed at least until March 30 in extended spring breaks.

“Protecting the health of all Coloradans is our top priority, and moving to online learning and other ways to support learning at home is absolutely the right thing to do,” state Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said in a statement. “We know school leaders, educators and families will have a lot of questions about how to support their students’ learning at home during this unprecedented time. The department is working on guidance and developing resources to support our schools and students, and it will be available very soon.”

Polis’ executive order also directed Anthes to help public school districts to develop “alternative learning opportunities” for students not in physical schools. 

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn said in a letter to the school community the district “is currently planning for remote learning opportunities after our extended Spring Break ends on March 27.” 

In a letter to the Cherry Creek School District community, Superintendent Scott Siegfried said the “extended closure raises an infinite number of questions about critical issues including credits, grades, graduations, remote learning and future funding” but said Polis made the right decision. 

Siegfried said the district is also developing a remote learning system. 

Both Aurora school districts have already established free lunch and breakfast programs for children under the age of 18. 

Read Polis’ full executive order here. 

GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer 

Regis Jesuit High School reports student testing positive for novel coronavirus

AURORA | Regis Jesuit told its school community Wednesday a student has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

In a letter to the community of the private, Catholic high school, President David Card and Principal Jimmy Tricco said an “individual, a student from the Boys department” tested positive and was last on campus March 9. The school leaders said the student is isolated and recovering at home. 

“Per Tri-County Health, based on the time that has elapsed since the student was in school and the steps we have taken to increase social distance, the risk to our community is very low,” the letter reads. 

Regis is closed until “at least” March 29, like other Aurora schools.

GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer 

Polis calls out Guardsman to aid mostly health care issues

AURORA | Governor Jared Polis mobilized several dozen state National Guardsmen on Tuesday in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The group is based out of Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.

Split into two units, the group of about 50 personnel will help various communities across the state over the next week, according to a press statement.

A portion of the National Guard members helped staff a drive-up testing center in Telluride on March 17. Dozens of others are helping to staff the state Emergency Operations Center.

Officials said the Guardsmen, many of whom are members of the Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, are uniquely positioned to help amid the pandemic.

“Most of the personnel responding now are our state’s resident-trained and equipped experts in biological hazards,” The Adjutant General of Colorado U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Mike Loh said in a statement.

More than two dozen other full-time soldiers and airmen are working additional supporting roles at a joint force headquarters in Centennial.

— QUINCY SNOWDON, Staff Writer

TUESDAY MARCH 17, 2020

Planet Fitness closed March 17 for at least 30 days because of the new coronavirus crisis. PHOTO BY PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

Colorado coronavirus cases rise to 183, a hike of 23 in 1 day

AURORA | There are now 183 cases of novel coronavirus in Colorado. As of Tuesday, there have been two deaths. A man in his 70s in Weld County was reported dead on Tuesday. 

For more than half of those cases it’s unclear how they were transmitted. 

State health officials believe about 19 percent for Colorado’s positive COVID-19 cases have been transmitted through the community so far. Another 19 percent were person-to-person transmission. About 15 percent of those cases have ties to travel. 

There have been 18 cases confirmed in Arapahoe County and eight in Adams County. 10 cases have been reported in Douglas County.

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer

Meals on Wheels is looking for volunteers in the metro area. SENTINEL FILE PHOTO

Meals on Wheels needs volunteers for senior shut-ins

DENVER | Meals on Wheels is asking for more food delivery volunteers after seeing a decline in volunteers willing to serve seniors with packaged meals. 

The program is operated by Denver-based Volunteers of America and has long provided food-insecure seniors with a reliable source of nutritious food in the Denver metro, including Aurora. Unfortunately, said VOA spokesperson Vanessa Clark, the program needs volunteers. 

“We do have a need there,” she said. 

Clark said the volunteer shortage hasn’t affected food deliveries so far and encouraged food donations to VOA food banks, which can be done on the service provider’s website. She speculated that volunteers were leaving the program because of concerns about interacting with people, parents having less time with kids at home and senior citizen volunteers self-quarantining themselves. 

Volunteers have to pass a criminal background check, Clark said, and can apply on the VOA website. 

The program has only become more important for food-insecure, home-bound seniors self-quarantined during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Senior citizens are especially susceptible to fatal infections and should limit trips to the grocery store or restaurants. 

But Clark said Meals on Wheels has found itself in a catch 22: Volunteers have to physically hand the meal to its recipient under food safety regulations, but close contact risks exposing a senior citizen. She said the Denver Regional Council of Governments, which governs parts of the program, is discussing a work-around.
GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer 

Aurora Municipal Center. (File Photo by Trevor L Davis/Aurora Sentinel)

Aurora City Hall closing to the public

AURORA | The Aurora Municipal Center will be closed to the public beginning Tuesday to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Many services, like the ability to pay bills, will still be available online or over the phone, according to city spokeswoman Kim Stuart, and essential services like public safety and the animal shelter are expected to continue operation. 

A full directory of services that will be available during the closure will be online Wednesday.

On Friday, the city announced officers will only respond to situations in which a life is believed to be in danger or a crime is actively occurring. Police in the state’s third-largest city are encouraging residents to report suspected crimes using the online reporting system linked here. Motor vehicle accidents can be reported here.

Police said people who feel that their life may be in danger should continue to call 911. However, if dispatchers determine the situation is not, in fact, life-threatening, callers may be directed to report the incident online or by phone.

Residents can report non-emergency issues to law enforcement by calling 303-627-3100.

Additionally, the city’s department heads are currently identifying how employees may work remotely, as gatherings of more than 10 people have been discouraged by federal health officials. Many Aurora employees work in cubicles at the municipal building.

Stuart said city leaders are identifying the best ways to limit spread of disease while still providing services.

— KARA MASON, Staff writer

Gov. Jared Polis addresses reporters at the state Capitol March 16, 2020, on issues regarding the COVID-19 crisis. FACEBOOK SCREENGRAB

Colorado COVID-19 cases reaches 160, but likely not accurate picture of infected

AURORA | There are now 160 positive cases of the novel coronavirus in Colorado as of Monday afternoon, but there could be thousands more that haven’t been tested yet, according to Gov. Jared Polis. 

The state health department confirmed 29 new cases were confirmed overnight. Demographic data isn’t yet available for those cases.

Polis said in a news conference Monday that statewide positive case totals don’t accurately reflect the likely number of cases on any given day.

Instead, it’s a snapshot into three to five days ago, he said. That’s because testing isn’t happening fast enough throughout the state. 

Private labs aren’t required to report negative tests to the state, so it’s so far unclear how many COVID-19 tests have been negative.

Aurora Mental Health Center

Aurora Mental Health Center moves to tele-health 

AURORA | The Aurora Mental Health Center and Asian Pacific Development Center are  moving most services to tele-health in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Spokeswoman Lori McKenzie said providers are connecting with clients via phone or email to determine adequate treatment, but the Connect2Care clinic at 791 Chambers Road will still be open and assisting the community.

Clients should contact the center or call (303) 617-2300 to verify a phone number for continuing care.

Residential and detox services remain open, and AUMHC crisis services are open and available by calling (844) 493-8255.

Aurora City Council during the Dec. 2, 2019 meeting of the new Aurora City Council. PHOTO BY PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

Aurora City Council meeting cancelled

AURORA | The Aurora City Council meeting scheduled for Monday night is canceled, with concerns that a quorum for the meeting will not be met in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was scheduled to take place despite Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly declaring an emergency last week. Before the cancelation, attendees were urged to practice social distancing and refrain from the meeting if they were feeling ill.

Mayor Mike Coffman called a special meeting for March 23. City charter dictates that council members must have at least two meetings per month.

Other work around city hall continues mostly as usual. Julie Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city, said high-traffic surfaces are getting cleaned more often and social distancing is being encouraged among employees, many of which work in cubicle environments.

 

A line stretches down the outside of COSTCO on Havana Street, March 16, 2020. The store was limiting customers to the purchase of only one paper product of each style and two cases of water.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

Epic lines created by panic shoppers

AURORA | Traffic is light but there are still a wide range of Aurora area businesses open today.

Despite assurances and requests by President Donald Trump and local election officials, people were clearly out in and near Aurora in panic-buy mode.

Long lines existed Monday morning just to get inside Costco and some other grocery stores.

Shoppers, however, were leaving stores with coveted paper products and water, which retail and government officials say are not in short supply.

Banks, courts and many retailers are open today.

 

 

An Arapahoe County district courtroom. SENTINEL FILE PHOTO

Courts open and closed

AURORA | Cancellations started trickling into Aurora’s court system this week, though proceedings by and large are scheduled to proceed as normal.

District and county courts in Arapahoe County will continue to operate this week, though officials are urging anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay away. Anyone who has been in recent contact with someone diagnosed with the viral infection, or may be experiencing symptoms themselves, is also urged to steer clear of the courthouse.

People who believe they fit that criteria should contact their attorney to request a continuance or telephonic hearing. Parties not represented by any attorney are asked to call court officials in Arapahoe County at 303-645-6870, or email [email protected] Douglas County residents should call 720-437-6233 or email [email protected]

Anyone summonsed for jury duty in the 18th Judicial District and fits the aforementioned criteria is encouraged to call the jury commissioner to reschedule their service.

Those in need of rescheduling probation appointments for the same reasons listed above should call the Arapahoe County central probation office at 720-213-7800, or the Aurora office at 303-418-1300.

For collections issues, email [email protected]

Updates will posted to the state judicial branch’s website linked here.

“The Judicial Department is continually working to balance legitimate public health considerations with the necessity to maintain fair and effective administration of justice for citizens and communities in our state,” officials wrote in a statement.

READ THE STORY HERE

 

SUNDAY MARCH 15, 2020

A healthcare provider prepares to label a vial at the coronavirus testing location located at the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department’s Aspen Village location on Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Aspen, Colo. The vast majority of people recover from the new coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, most people recover in about two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times via AP)

State reports 30 new cases in Colorado

DENVER | The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed 30 new positive cases in Colorado, based test results from Saturday.

The new cases brings the state total to 131.

Officials said 25 of the new case results come from the state lab. The other five were processed at private testing facilities. Those tests were taken by patients seeing health care providers.

It appears 758 people have been tested by the state lab since Feb. 28. Private labs are not required to report negative numbers to the state, so we are not reporting total testing numbers for the state.

Breakdown of new cases:

Teenaged – 4; 20s – 4; 30s – 7; 40s – 4; 50s – 7; 60s – 3; 70s – 1

County of residence: Arapahoe – 3; Boulder – 3; Denver – 4; Douglas – 4; Eagle – 4; El Paso – 1; Garfield – 1; Gunnison – 2  ; Jefferson – 5; Weld – 2; Unknown – 1

 

WIPE OUT: Metro sewer officials warn off flushing toilet paper ‘substitutes’

AURORA | If you’re one of the unlucky folks who have run out of toilet paper and luck in finding more after the recent herd of hoarders, here’s more bad news: Don’t flush, umm, “substitutes.”

Officials from the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District, the people at the terminal end of your toilet and the sewage system for the entire metro area, want you to toss, don’t flush, other stuff for wiping.

“Refrain from flushing anything but toilet paper,” officials said in a release.

This includes:

• All types of wipes (even wipes labeled as flushable)

• Paper towels, napkins, and all other paper products

• Toilet bowl scrub pads

• Diapers

“The items above should be placed in the trash and not flushed down the toilet,” officials said.

Anything other than toilet paper causes problems at the wastewater plant and your home plumbing.

Officials are concerned that a flood of non-flushable substitutes could cause serious problems for the region.

“As critical regional infrastructure, the Metro District is taking measures to ensure the organization will continue to provide consistent wastewater treatment service to the metropolitan Denver area as this situation evolves,” officials said.

But that could depend on what you flush.

— SENTINEL STAFF WRITERS

 

AURORA | The Stanley Marketplace in Aurora has closed to the public in recognition of the importance of social distancing to reduce spread of COVID-19.

The mall-like emporium of shops and restaurants said some businesses will move to curb-side and home deliver of foods and products.

“This wasn’t an easy decision to make, but we have to do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and encourage social distancing,” Stanley officials said on Twitter Saturday.

“This Tuesday, we launch Stanley To Go, a curbside pick-up program offering lunch and dinner from a bunch of Stanley businesses, including Annette, Comida, Rolling Smoke, Misaki, Cheluna, and more.”

The Denver Biscuit Cmpany, the Logan House Coffee Company, and Rosenberg’s have separate entrances. Those businesses plan to offer to-go service.

“We’re still figuring all of this out, but we are so grateful for our community of small business owners for working together to do what’s right for the greater good.” Stanley officials said.

— SENTINEL COLORADO STAFF

Aurora City Council meeting still on Monday despite widespread city closures

AURORA | While City Manager Jim Twombly has declared a state of emergency in Aurora in the wake of a growing number of COVID-19 cases, city council members will still meet on Monday for a study session and regular meeting. 

Video streaming of the meetings are available online and cable. People can still attend the city council meeting in-person, but city staff are asking attendees to be mindful and stay home if they show any symptoms of illness. Attendees are also being asked to wash hands, limit face touching and practicing social distancing. 

The local lawmakers are slated to make a final vote on an ordinance that would require Aurora restaurants to offer non-sugary drinks to children as a default. 

FULL STORY HERE

 

Colorado COVID-19 virus cases rise to 101

As of 3 p.m. Saturday, Colorado public health officials reported 101 positive cases of the COVID-19 virus out of 711 tests, meaning 610 tests were negative.

“Originally we classified cases as “presumptive positive” until they could be re-tested by the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC confirmed we no longer need to send positive cases for re-testing because the test they perform is identical to the CDPHE testing,” Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials said in a statement.

The breakdown of positive cases by county include:

Adams: 6

Arapahoe County: 10

Denver: 20

Douglas County: 4

Eagle County: 18

El Paso County: 3

Gunnison County: 6

Jefferson County: 9

Larimer County: 1

Mesa County: 1

Pitkin County: 2

Pueblo: 1

Summit County: 2

Weld: 3

Of those positive cases, 15 are deemed out of state visitors currently in Eagle, Routt, Pitkin and Denver counties. Two are unclassified.

The state’s single death attributed to COVID-19 was a female in her 80s from El Paso County.

The breakdown of cases by age includes:

Teenage – 3

20s – 9

30s – 19

40s – 20

50s – 19

60s – 13

70s – 13

80s – 5

— SENTINEL COLORADO STAFF


SATURDAY MARCH 14, 2020

The State Capitol is shown in downtown Denver.

DENVER | Colorado lawmakers paused their legislative session on Saturday over fears of the coronavirus outbreak and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

The legislature passed a resolution to take a two-week recess . It comes 67 days into the 120-day legislative session, with the budget and several major bills pending or yet to be introduced.

“COVID-19 has gone from a concern to an urgent, pervasive and incredibly important issue for all of us in the legislature to address quickly,” said House Speaker KC Becker, a Boulder Democrat,

Becker acknowledged the recess could last longer than two weeks. Lawmakers must pass a budget by June 30.

“This is about doing what’s right for the people of Colorado,” said Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, a Parker Republican.

READ THE FULL STORY

Colorado ski areas close

DENVER  |  As ski resorts across the United States grappled with how to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus without having to close, industry giants Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company decided Saturday they would shutter 49 of North America’s most well-known resorts.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis later issued an executive order mandating all Colorado ski areas close for one week.

Vail Resorts said it would shut down its 34 resorts for at least one week before reassessing while Alterra is closing its 15 until further notice. The Telluride Ski Resort in Colorado and the Aspen Skiing Company announced Saturday night that they will close ski operations, too.

Also announcing closures were Monarch Mountain and Loveland Basin and Arapahoe Basin ski areas.

The closures marked a sudden change of course after the majority of the country’s resorts vowed earlier Saturday to stay open during the crisis while taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

READ FULL STORY HERE

 


FRIDAY MARCH 13, 2020

Students work through a variety of circuits during a boot camp basics class at Beck Recreation Center. The center and others are closed indefinitely due to novel coronavirus crisis.

Aurora declares state of emergency; numerous facilities closed indefinitely

AURORA | Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly declared a state of emergency on Friday in response to a growing number of COVID-19 cases across the state.

“This declaration allows the city to expedite additional emergency resources to support the city’s Office of Emergency Management and gives the city flexibility to procure additional essential resource, if needed,” city officials wrote, announcing the declaration.

The declaration comes with a slate of closed facilities and events:

Effective March 14 through March 31, the following facilities will be closed, or until further notice:

•All city recreation centers and indoor pools

•All city libraries

•Aurora History Museum

•Aurora Fox Arts Center

•The People’s Building

•Bicentennial Arts Center

Effective March 14 through April 30, the following facilities will be closed, or until further notice:

•Aurora Center for Active Adults

•Morning Star Adult Day Program

•Therapeutic Recreation Program

All city-organized public meetings and events will also be canceled.

Despite those closures and cancelations, city council meetings are still expected to continue, as are meetings for the civil service commission, planing and zoning commission, and board of adjustments and appeals meetings.

City offices and outdoor recreation spaces will remain open until further notice.

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer

An Aurora Police officer. SENTINEL FILE PHOTO

Aurora Police say they’ll respond only to ‘priority’ calls

AURORA | The Aurora Police Department became the latest local agency to take precautions against COVID-19 Friday with an announcement that officers will only respond to situations in which a life is believed to be in danger or a crime is actively occurring.

Police in the state’s third-largest city are encouraging residents to report suspected crimes using the online reporting system linked here. Motor vehicle accidents can be reported here.

The reporting protocol has been implemented indefinitely, police announced via Twitter.

Officials said the decision was made to limit the amount of physical contact officers have with residents in effort to prevent the spread of disease.

“We are taking these measures in an abundance of caution for your safety as well as the safety of our officers,” police officials wrote on Twitter. “Police officers frequently are in contact with many citizens, and we want to minimize the potential of our daily interactions from causing an exposure risk to you. We recognize this may cause some inconvenience to you, but do appreciate your patience and understanding during this unprecedented time.”

Police said people who feel that their life may be in danger should continue to call 911. However, if dispatchers determine the situation is not, in fact, life-threatening, callers may be directed to report the incident online or by phone.

Residents can report non-emergency issues to law enforcement by calling 303-627-3100.

“We are minimizing the risk we may bring,” police wrote on Twitter. “You are still getting police services, just in a more remote fashion in non-emer(gency) incidents only.”

Denver police also introduced a similar protocol Friday.

QUINCY SNOWDON, Staff Writer

 

Metro drive-thru testing site moves to Denver Coliseum, open Saturday

AURORA | The state is re-opening its drive-thru COVID-19 testing site on Saturday, but at the Denver Coliseum instead of the Lowry lab site.

The location has been moved for safety and logistical reasons, according to the state health department. Like at the Lowry site, the testing center will be able to serve the first 100 to 150 people in line.

After Saturday, the agency plans to move the drive-thru testing to other locations across the state “in an effort to detect cases early, identify community spread if it’s there, and launch targeted public health responses.” Those locations will be posted as they become available.

The coliseum is located at 4600 Humboldt St. The testing site is open from 10 a.m. until 2 pm.

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer

 

Flood of closures and cancellations washes across Aurora

AURORA | An El Paso County woman in her 80s died as a result of COVID-19 Friday afternoon, marking the first fatality linked to the novel coronavirus in the state, according to the governor’s office.

“While we were expecting this day, it doesn’t make it any less difficult to hear and share this news,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement. “As a state we are in mourning and our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the Coloradan we lost.”

In the hours preceding the woman’s death, the modern world continued to grind to a halt with the announcement of several more prolonged closures across Aurora and the metroplex.

While Aurora city offices are slated to remain open for the foreseeable future, officials announced the cancellation of several upcoming events in an effort to impede the spread of COVID-19.

All city recreation centers, libraries and several cultural facilities are scheduled to be closed  through March 31, according to information released by City Councilwoman Allison Hiltz. That includes the Aurora History Museum, Aurora Fox and The People’s Building. 

The Aurora Center for Active Adults, Morning Star Adult Day Care and therapeutic recreation programs will be cancelled through April 30.

The Aurora Municipal Center and other city offices will remain open for services, including the municipal court, water billing and the permitting office.

Both Aurora Public Schools and the Cherry Creek School District announced prolonged closures March 12.

Per stipulations set by the city charter, the meetings of the following entities will continue to be held as scheduled: Aurora city council, civil service commission, planning and zoning commission, and the board of adjustments and appeals. 

City council policy committee meetings are scheduled to still take place, but may be cancelled at the discretion of the chair person, according to Hiltz. 

She said city officials are “looking into virtual meeting options,” but have yet to solidify any plans.

All other city meetings and events scheduled to be held over the next six weeks will be cancelled. That will likely nix a Cesar Chavez celebration scheduled for April 7.

The public will also be barred from using city meeting rooms for non-city business through April 30.

Earlier on Friday, the board of Arapahoe County commissioners signed off on a local emergency proclamation, which allows officials to tap into emergency resources to combat the virus, according to a statement.

“This action was not taken lightly but it is the necessary trigger for that to happen,” Board Chairwoman Nancy Sharpe said in a statement. “This allows Arapahoe County to direct all possible resources to help manage the response at the appropriate level.”

Arapahoe County had seven presumptive positive cases within its borders as of noon March 13, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment. At least one of those cases involved the family of an Active Guard Reserve member currently stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. Upon returning from a trip to India, the service member’s wife showed symptoms of the viral infection earlier this week. 

One of the couple’s two sons tested negative for the virus, though the Reserve member and his other son were displaying symptoms and awaiting test results as of Thursday, according to information released by Buckley officials.

After reports of several more confirmed cases in Adams County, officials closed most offices in that county through March 23. Adams County courts will remain open, though motor vehicle offices, the government center in Brighton and the human services center in Westminster will be closed.

More than 70 people have tested positive for the virus as of Friday afternoon. About 600 people have been tested so far. 

— QUINCY SNOWDON, Staff Writer

 

Gov. Jared Polis at briefs reporters about the Colorado COVID-19 crisis March 13 at the Colorado Capitol. SCREEN GRAB

DENVER | Gov. Jared Polis announced measures Friday to grow the ranks of doctors, nurses and other professionals in anticipation of an increasing coronavirus caseload straining the state’s health care system.

Polis said state officials will expedite the licensing of health-care professionals who live in Colorado and already have licenses in other states. State officials are also asking retired doctors and nurses and those who left the field to consider returning to help with the outbreak.

The Colorado National Guard has been activated and Guard medics are being trained, Polis said. Medical students are being asked to help with testing and clinical work.

An increase in health professionals will be needed as the number of coronavirus cases grows exponentially, and as health professionals treating those patients become infected themselves, Polis said.

“We are in the middle of one off the greatest public health disasters of our lifetime,” he said. “It’s critical for us to take it seriously.”

Polis called for the cancellation of events with groups of 200 or more people, unless organizers can guarantee participants are spaced 6 feet from one another.

— THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

AURORA | The state’s drive-thru COVID-19 lab testing in Lowry will operate at limited capacity on Friday after the “overwhelming response” it saw in the first two days of operation.

The Lowry facility tested 650 people in its first two days of operation. On Friday it will allow a maximum of 100 to 150 cars in the drive-up queue, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The testing center is at 8100 E. Lowry Blvd. in Denver, on the Lowry Campus.

All others seeking testing are encouraged to do so through a private provider. Health officials urge that people exhibiting signs of the novel coronavirus call their health care provider before arriving.

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer

Students board the bus at sunrise near Orchard and Parker roads.
Photo by McKenzie Lange/Aurora Sentinel

AURORA | Joining most metro school districts, Cherry Creek Schools announced it would dismiss students from classes Friday and extend next week’s spring break until at least until March 30.

“I believe we must act now to protect the health and wellbeing of our 55,000 students, 9,000 employees and the community where we live,” said Cherry Creek Superintendent Scott Siegfried in a statement. “I have had many conversations with local and state health officials, community leaders and members of my pandemic response team. I know that closing our schools will have a significant impact on our families, but we also believe that strong, urgent action must be taken to prevent the spread of this disease and to protect lives.”

Aurora and Denver public schools announced similar measures earlier in the day.

Siegfried said Cherry Creek officials will review the COVID-19 virus spread closer to the end of the month and determine then whether to begin school again on March 30.

— Sentinel Colorado staff

4 new incidents in Eagle County bring state total of positive cases to 49

DENVER | Four new incidents of COVID-19 in Eagle County raise the number of positive cases in Colorado to 49, according to state health officials.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment earlier Thursday announced 11 presumptive positive cases. The total number includes one indeterminate case, officials said.

State labs have completed test results on approximately 430 people since Colorado began testing Feb. 28.

The new cases, all in Eagle, include a male in his 20s , a female in her 30s, a male in his 80s and a female age 30. All of the cases are under investigation and have no clear link to exposure, officials said.

Denver and Eagle and Pitkin counties have the largest number of cases testing positive, according to state officials, with approximately 10 cases each.

— Sentinel Colorado staff

APS extends spring break 1 week as a precaution despite no COVID-19 cases

AURORA | Despite not reporting any positive COVID-19 cases in the Aurora Public Schools, all district schools will extend spring break an additional week, officials said Thursday.

This appears to be the first school district in the metro to close schools without a COVID-19 case prompting it.

“This action is an effective way to slow the spread of coronavirus,” Superintendent Rico Munn said in a statement. “This means our Spring Break will last from March 16 through March 27.”

The district has also cancelled all sports, activities and district events for that same time period.

“We will reassess the situation by March 27 and decide whether students and staff should return on March 30,” Munn said. “We know that extending the break will have an impact on families, but we also believe that strong, urgent action must be taken to prevent the spread of this disease and to protect lives.”

Officials said all APS schools will undergo “intensive” cleanings and disinfection during the break.

Denver followed suit soon after. Denver Public Schools will close March 16 and reopen April 7, according to DPS officials.

— Sentinel Colorado Staff

 

Adams County closing government until March 23 – 3 cases identified

AURORA | Due to three confirmed public cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Adams County, and a county employee under quarantine order from a medical professional, county leadership made the decision to close all Adams County buildings until Monday, March 23. This measure will allow for cleaning and disinfection of county buildings. We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution.

The cases include two women with no clear link to exposure. One woman is in her 30s from Brighton. A woman in her 30s from Northglenn is hospitalized, officials said. The third case involves a woman in her 60s from Westminster with a travel history that could have provided exposure.

“We are just learning of these positive tests from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and have begun contact investigations to determine if there were any other potential exposures,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department.

The Sheriff, District Attorney, Coroner, and Justice Center will remain open until further notice.

The health and safety of our residents and employees is the county’s primary concern. Residents and employees are encouraged to practice social distancing during this time and contact health providers if symptoms occur.

Residents can drop off tax and utility payments at several drop boxes located throughout the county.

Locations:

  • Aurora Motor Vehicle – 3449 N. Chambers Rd., Aurora
  • Adams County Government Center – 4430 S. Adams County Pkwy., Brighton
  • Commerce City Sheriff’s Substation – 4201 E. 72nd Ave., Commerce City
  • Adams County Human Services Center – 11860 Pecos St., Westminster
  • Westminster Motor Vehicle – 8452 N. Federal Blvd., Westminster
  • Strasburg Sheriff’s Substation – 2550 Strasburg Rd., Strasburg

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer

Lines so long for COVID-19 virus testing that some told to come back Friday

AURORA | The drive-thru COVID-19 testing lab in Lowry closed early on Thursday due to “extremely high volume.”

Cars were backed up for blocks at the lab site in Denver, on average waiting 84 minutes.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said people in line behind a cut-off point would be given priority to test on Friday when the drive-thru lab reopens.

On Wednesday, the lab serviced 160 people, according to CDPHE. On Thursday, there was a 3-hour wait for the testing, which takes about 10 minutes total.

Scott Bookman, incident commander for the state’s public health response to the virus, said about 160 people came to the virus testing site at the state lab over a four-hour span Wednesday, and “we had a major influx of people” Thursday.

“There were hundreds and hundreds of cars lined up to the point that it was going to become a safety hazard given that it was blocking traffic,” he said.

The drive-thru will reopen Friday.

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer

The Community College of Aurora-CentreTech Campus.

Community College of Aurora cancels in-person classes

Spring break will start a week early for Community College of Aurora students, spanning a two-week period from March 16 to 29, and not return to campuses for classes afterward.

The community college announced Thursday afternoon online classes will replace in-person classes for the rest of the semester, following other colleges including CU Boulder. All on-campus events are also canceled for the semester.

“While this is unchartered territory for us, we are informing and preparing ourselves, constantly monitoring the situation and addressing this challenge together,” CCA president Betsy Oudenhoven said in a statement.

CCA said not all courses can be replaced with the online format, but staff are working to adjust instruction for the safety of students and staff.

-GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer

More COVID-19 cases brings state total to 45, 1 new in Arapahoe

AURORA | State officials report there are now 44 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 virus among Colorado residents. There is an additional suspected case under investigation.

A women in her 30s living in Arapahoe County was added the list, bring the total of cases in Arapahoe and Adams counties to 5.

Denver and Pitkin counties lead the list of infections with 10 cases each. An increasing number of cases are not related to travel or obvious exposure, according to list details.

— Sentinel Staff

CHSAA postpones spring sports to April 6

AURORA | Thursday was supposed to mark the official opening day of the spring prep sports season, but that won’t happen now until April 6, if at all.

The Colorado High School Activities Association — the state’s governing body — announced the suspension of all spring practices and competition starting Friday until at least that date when “key decision-makers from around the state to determine when, or if, to resume the spring season” a statement on CHSAANow.com indicated.

Girls golf and girls tennis began on March 5 and got through a small bit of competition, while baseball, girls soccer, boys swimming, track & field and boys and girls lacrosse waited their turn to begin Thursday.

State basketball tournaments resumed Thursday — with limited attendance allowed — and were expected to continue to completion through Saturday.

COURTNEY OAKES, Sports Editor

State health officials release school closure guidelines

AURORA | Although no Aurora schools have closed as of 11 a.m. Thursday, state government is issuing guidelines for schools to shutter after discovering confirmed COVID-19 case among students or staff.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment department recommended Thursday that any school, preschool and childcare center should close for a minimum of 72 hours after discovering one confirmed case, and at least two weeks after finding 3 cases in 30 days.

But all schools in a district will close for at least two weeks if three of its schools have confirmed COVID-19 cases in 30 days for cleaning and testing as well.

All Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek School Districts remain open Thursday, districts spokespersons said. The districts have said they will comply with health agency directives to close schools.

APS and CCSD students are on a regularly-scheduled spring break next week and will not be attending classes.

— GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer