Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from April 2, 2020

Posted at 6:05 AM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 09:58:19-04

NOTE: This is the live blog from Thursday, April 2. Click here for the live blog from Friday, April 3.

As state and city officials work to determine how to further combat the novel corornavirus in Colorado, the number of cases and deaths continue to increase.

By Thursday afternoon, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment said 3,728 Coloradans have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 710 people total have been hospitalized for treatment.

Officials said there are likely more positive cases, but are prioritizing the tests for those at-risk.

The state has tested more than 20,411 people since the outbreak, and in that time, 97 people have died.

So far, Boulder County is one of the only outlets to provide data regarding recovery statistics.

READ MORE: List of Colorado businesses that are open

Click here for the latest update on the number of cases, the age, gender and location of presumptive positive, indeterminate and confirmed cases from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Below, we're updating this blog with the latest information regarding COVID-19 in Colorado.

Latest updates:

Thursday, April 2

5:55 p.m. | "We Can Sew It": Denver doctors join forces with volunteers to make thousands of masks

When Dr. Jillian Ciocchetti, a surgeon at Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver, learned last month that hospital staff would be allowed to wear cloth scrub caps again, she texted her family with a request: Could they make her one?

Three hours later, her mother brought her a freshly-sewn cap.

Then her family got another idea: What if they started making cloth masks?

Ciocchetti teamed with Dr. Kelly McMullen, a family medicine physician at Saint Joseph, and called their effort Operation We Can Sew It. SCL Health last week approved their mask design, which includes a pocket for autoclave paper, a high-grade filtration material.

They’ve been able to produce thousands of masks already. Click here to read the full story.

5:23 p.m. | Colorado Symphony announces #Playon Virtual Music hour

The Colorado Symphony has announced a weekly streaming event featuring past Colorado Symphony performances for what they call #PlayOn Virtual Music Hour. The virtual hour will take place each weekend starting on Friday at 6 p.m. You can view the virtual hour by clicking here.

5:15 p.m. | Colorado extends special health insurance enrollment period for uninsured people through April 30

Colorado on Thursday extended its special enrollment period for uninsured people to sign up for health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado through the end of April, though people can still enroll through the end of Friday to have coverage kick in effective April 1. Click here to read more.

4:41 p.m. | Eagle County reports 5th death from COVID-19

The Eagle County Public Health Department has confirmed a fifth death - a man in his 80s who died Wednesday (March 1) in the care of his family at home.

Officials are reminding the community to stay home except for critical services, such as buying groceries, going to work, or seeking medical care, among others.

4:36 p.m. | Wings Over the Rockies launches initiative to bring the museum to you

Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is launching the Aerospace Thrust Campaign, an online initiative to bring the museum to Coloradans staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative will bring many educational resources, activities, and videos right to your home.

4:25 p.m. | Latino Community Foundation of Colorado launches initiative to help Latino, immigrant communities

The Latino Community Foundation is launching Ayuda Colorado (Help Colorado), which officials call a three-pronged strategy to support the Latino Coloradan community as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the state.

The Ayuda Colorado Fund is seeking support from foundations, corporations and individuals to reach the goal of $1.5M, which will be distributed to Latino-led and -serving organizations, as well as immigrant and refugee serving organizations through three grantmaking cycles in 2020.

4:11 p.m. | Boulder clarifies which outdoor activities are prohibited during COVID-19 pandemic

The City of Boulder has announced a new public health order, which goes into effect today, April 2, which prohibits certain outdoor recreational activities at places that are "conductive to public gathering":

-- Basketball courts
-- Volleyball courts
-- Tennis courts
-- Golf courses as well as Disc Golf courses
-- Outdoor aquatic facilities
-- Valmont Bike Park
-- Dog parks
-- Parks, picnic areas and park shelters
-- Playgrounds
-- Skate parks
-- Open Space picnic areas, nature centers and shelters

Parks, hiking trails, trailheads and multi-use paths remain open for walking, hiking, biking and running, provided that all users always remain at least six feet from any other user, officials said.

4 p.m. | CDPHE: Nearly 100 dead from coronavirus in Colorado

The number of cases of the novel coronavirus in Colorado increased by 386 on Thursday, with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) announcing 3,728 people had tested positive as of 4 p.m. Thursday.

A total of 90 more people were hospitalized, bringing the total of hospitalizations to 710. The new virus is also now present in 51 of Colorado's 64 counties. The CDPHE said 1,766 more tests had been received by the state, bringing the total number of people who have been tested for COVID-19 to 20,411. State health officials said 97 people have now died from the disease, an increase of 18 from Wednesday’s numbers.

State health and government officials believe there could be between 12,000 and 33,000 cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, but are prioritizing testing for those who are most at-risk

3:20 p.m. | More information on Colorado’s unemployment situation

At a 10 a.m. media briefing, CDLE officials put into further context just how drastically the COVID-19 outbreak has reshaped the state’s unemployment landscape in just a few weeks.

CDLE Deputy Executive Director Cher Haavind said the state continues to see between 10,000 and 15,000 applications filed each day on the unemployment insurance website. She said that Sunday through Wednesday this week, the state had received close to 40,000 applications.

She said the gating system implemented to try to keep certain people filing at certain times and other changes made on the back end of the site have helped it stabilize.

But the number of calls to the CDLE’s unemployment call center is “overwhelming,” she said. Haavind said that before COVID-19 hit, there were typically about 1,000 calls place to the center each day. But on Monday, she said, there were 225,000 attempted calls – some successful but others not. Read more here.

2:40 p.m. | Colorado health officials believe there are 4-10 times more COVID-19 cases than currently reported

Colorado’s COVID-19 incident commander said Thursday that officials estimate there are between four and 10 times more cases of the novel coronavirus in the state than can currently be confirmed due to a lack of testing resources from the federal government.

As of the Wednesday release of COVID-19 data in Colorado, which shows figures through March 31, there were 3,342 confirmed cases of the virus in 50 of Colorado’s 64 counties, with 620 people hospitalized and at least 80 deaths. A total of 18,645 people had been tested as of March 31, according to the data.

That would mean, according to Bookman’s estimate, that there could currently be between 12,000 and 33,000 cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. Click here to read the full story.

2:38 p.m. | HealthONE announces "pandemic pay" for workers

HealthONE has implemented a new "pandemic pay continuation" policy to help protect the financial security for front-line caregivers at all facilities. It applies to all HCA Healthcare employees, including those at all HealthONE facilities.

For employees working in patient care facilities who are quarantined per CDC guidelines, HealthONE will pay 100 percent of base pay for scheduled hours regardless of where the exposure took place. Colleagues who do not work in a patient care facility and are quarantined per CDC guidelines, will be eligible for short term disability while they are ill.

2:25 p.m. | Denver launches new marriage license process

The Denver Office of the Clerk and Recorder has created a new process to comply with the state's stay-at-home order that temporarily removes the in-person requirement to obtain a marriage license. The new process will be conducted through aa combination of mail, the office's secure drop-box and telephone.

1:15 p.m. | Letter shows Gov. Polis request to VP Pence to send Colorado more PPE, supplies amid "dire shortage"

The Colorado governor’s office on Thursday released a letter Gov. Jared Polis sent to Vice President Mike Pence on March 28 in which he discussed what he called the state’s “dire shortage” of PPE and ventilators and the wide gap between what has been requested from the federal government and what has been received. Click here to read the full story.

12:37 p.m. | El Paso County sheriff’s deputy dies of COVID-19

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office announced that Deputy Jeff Hopkins died April 1 of COVID-19. He was 41 years old and leaves behind his wife, Wendy. He was employed at the sheriff’s office since 2001.

Sheriff Bill Elder said a public health investigation into his death and COVID-19 exposure would “take some time.”

County Public Health Director Susan Wheelan said officials do not yet know how Hopkins contracted the virus.

11:40 a.m. | More warnings from the state about scammers

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission and the Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel on Thursday warned customers about scammers during the coronavirus pandemic. If utility customers receive call from someone threatening an immediate shutoff, it's a scam, the agencies said. All Colorado electric and gas utilities have halted disconnections since Gov. Jared Polis' executive order on March 20.

Scammers could also pose as utilitiy workers or contractors and might knock on customers' doors, claiming they need to reset or inspect your utility meter. Customers should also be on the lookout for bogus bills sent via email.

11:35 a.m. | DOJ gets $14 million to help Colorado public safety

The Department of Justice has allocated $14,207,832 to help Colorado public safety agencies in their response to the coronavirus pandemic. The DOJ made $850 million available across the country. State, local and tribal governments can apply for the funds, and the DOJ will select who will be awarded with the grant money.

11:30 a.m. | Uninsured enrollment extended to April 30

Connect for Health Colorado, the state health marketplace, will extend its emergency special enrollment period for uninsured residents until April 30. Since March 20, about 5,500 people have signed up for a health insurance plan during the special enrollment period. To sign up for a plan, go here.

10:58 a.m. | Denver Fire receives 1,200 surgical masks as COVID-19 spread in Colorado

The Denver Fire Department said it a received a donation of 1,200 surgical masks from a man named Xidong Sun, who represents organizations from the Denver Chinese Community. These masks will help provide added protection when helping patients on medical emergency.

8:52 a.m. | Limited rates on non-consensual tows from private property

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has adopted emergency rules limiting the rates of non-consensual tows from private property, the state announced Thursday morning.

8:50 a.m. | Gov. Polis sends letter to vice president regarding PPE shortage

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting more personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators due to the shortage Colorado is facing, the state announced Thursday.

“We are facing a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies to protect our health care workers and first responders. Colorado’s COVID-19 death rate is rising faster than any other state right now; the pandemic is spreading so fast that lags in testing are masking the true conditions experienced by Coloradans across the state,” Polis wrote in the letter.

In the letter, Polis explained that the state needs 10,000 ventilators, 2,000,000 N95 masks, 4,460,000 surgical masks, 720,000 gowns, 880,000 face shields and 4,300,000 pairs of gloves in multiple sizes.

8 a.m. | Official unemployment numbers in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment confirmed Thursday morning that 61,583 initial unemployment claims were filed the week of March 22-28. To put this into perspective, the CDLE said the week with the highest initial claims during the Great Recession saw 7,749 claims. Read more here.

6:30 a.m. | More than 6 million unemployment claims made last week in U.S.

Unemployment claims have spiked to 6.65 million across the country, the Department of Labor said in a press release on Thursday. Unemployment claims have doubled since last week when the Labor Department reported that about 3 million people were seeking unemployment. That figure was already by far the highest number of unemployment claims the department had ever seen. Read more here.

6:23 a.m. | All Colorado Hobby Lobby stores to close

Hobby Lobby has agreed to close all Colorado stores today after the state issued a cease and desist letter to the CEO, who lives in Oklahoma City, according to a spokesperson with the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

"It has come to the attention of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) that Hobby Lobby has reopened its Colorado stores this week," the letter reads. "This action is in direct violation of Executive Order D 2020 017, issued by Governor Polis on March 25, 2020, and Second Updated Public Health Order 20-24 Implementing Stay at Home Requirements, issued by Jill Hunsaker Ryan, MPH, Executive Director of CDPHE on March 27, 2020."

The letter goes on to explain what is considered an essential business in this case, and notes that the company has been notified that it's not a critical business previously.

READ MORE: Denver issues 5 citations for violating public health order surrounding COVID-19, including 1 business twice

"You are directed to immediately close all Hobby Lobby locations within the State of Colorado in compliance with Executive Order D 2020 017 and Second Updated Public Health Order 20-24," the letter concludes.

4:55 a.m. | No short-term lodging in Grand County

Grand County Public Health says it has created a Public Health Order related to the necessary restriction of short-term lodging in the county. This includes campgrounds, hotels, lodges, motels and more. All short-term lodging operations are prohibited from conducting business and taking new reservations until April 30. This excludes guests who are staying longer than 30 days. The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. today. Anybody with questions can contact the county by email or phone: or 970-725-3808.

Click here for the live blog from Wednesday, April 1, 2020.