Pence going to Colorado for Air Force Academy graduation

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Air Force Cadets arrive at the 2019 United States Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony at Falcon Stadium, Thursday, May 30, 2019, at the United States Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colo. A modified ceremony is planned for this year. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

DENVER  |  Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the Air Force Academy for its pared down commencement ceremony Saturday to address graduating cadets in person, not by video as originally planned.

Pence’s office announced his travel plans Tuesday and said additional details would be released later.

The event usually attracts a big crowd to Falcon Stadium and ends with a traditional aerobatics demonstration by the Air Force Thunderbirds. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the academy is closed to visitors and no spectators, including family, will be allowed at this year’s ceremony, which will only last about 30 minutes.

The Thunderbirds will only perform a flyover. Cadets will march 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart and sit 8 feet (2.4 meters) apart during the event.

Cadets will not march up to receive their diplomas and the typical high-fives and hugs are banned, The Gazette reported.

Lower classes were sent home to take online classes because of the outbreak. Seniors remained but the date of their graduation was moved up.

The academy initially announced last week that Secretary of the Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett would address the cadets in person and that there would be a video message from Pence.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

In other developments:

— Health officials believe an El Paso County sheriff’s deputy who died of COVID-19 contracted the disease while working in the jail. The sheriff’s office plans a funeral with full honors for Deputy Jeff Hopkins when that is possible.