Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from April 9, 2020

Posted at 5:25 AM, Apr 09, 2020

NOTE: This is the live blog from Thursday, April 9. Click here for the live blog from Friday, April 10.

A 21-year-old college student died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus this week — the youngest in the state — and his family, who lives in Aurora, is pleading with the public to take the virus seriously.

"I don't want any other parent or family member to go through what we are going through," his father told Denver7 on Wednesday.

READ MORE: List of Colorado businesses that are open

As of Wednesday at 4 p.m., 193 people in Colorado have died of COVID-19 and 1,162 people have been hospitalized.

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 9

10:23 p.m. | CDPHE data: 14 of Colorado's 64 counties have coronavirus outbreaks

Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) shows 14 of Colorado's 64 counties are experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 at either residential or non-hospital long term care facilities.

See the full list here.

6:22 p.m. | These are the Denver neighborhoods hit hardest by coronavirus, according to Denver Health

A breakdown of the data obtained by Denver7 Thursday afternoon shows Park Hill (both north and south), Washington Park, Skyland, Whittier, and Valverde are the neighborhoods with the highest infection rates of COVID-19 throughout the city – with about two and three positive cases being reported per 1,000 people in those neighborhoods.

Not far behind are areas like Globeville, Athmark Park, Virginia Village and Montbello – neighborhoods with a higher population of Latino and black residents.

Click here to read the full story.

5:45 p.m. | 14 residents at Greeley care center dead of COVID-19, 15 other current residents test positive

At least 14 residents at the Centennial Healthcare Center in Greeley who tested positive for COVID-19 have died, and 15 other residents have tested positive for the virus, a spokesperson for the facility said Thursday.

In addition to the 14 people confirmed to have the virus who passed away, five other people died and were either not tested for the virus after their death or still have postmortem results pending, said the spokesperson, Annaliese Impink.

She said that 14 of those 15 residents who currently have COVID-19 are isolated inside the center and the other person was hospitalized for treatment.

Click here to read the full story.

4:52 p.m. | Colorado's COVID-19 incident commander says officials believe peak pushed off to May

Colorado’s COVID-19 incident commander said Thursday that top public health officials believe that the social and physical distancing measures taken by the state, as well as the statewide stay-at-home order, have pushed the peak of the novel coronavirus here to May and bought more time to get more medical supplies and facilities in place.

Also Thursday, Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., led a letter along with other Democrats who are part of Colorado’s congressional delegation to Vice President Mike Pence calling for more transparency in the FEMA supply chain process so the state can get the supplies it needs to try to stave off the system overload when the peak occurs.

Click here to read the full story.

4:25 p.m. | San Miguel County's widespread testing to resume

A second-round of widespread COVID-19 immunity testing will resume as planned in San Miguel County, after officials earlier this week said the process was being put on hold due to delays at the county's partner lab.

The county, in a news release earlier in the week, said testing United Biomedical (UBI) lab in New York was "compromised" because of the high demand of tests and less staffing and personal protection equipment needed. On Thursday, the county issued a new press release, apologizing for "creating confusion" and said the depiction of the lab being compromised was "unintentionally misleading."

"San Miguel County remains confident in the quality of test results from UBI," the county news release Thursday said. "As UBI continues to work diligently to supply results, the County is standing by to resume testing when appropriate. Any delay will not invalidate any of the testing data."

San Miguel County offered every resident in the county a antibody blood test under the program, to determine immunity to the coronavirus. About 6,000 test samples were collected in the first round, and UBI has processed almost 2,000 of those tests. The goal was to have the same people tested again about two weeks later, to determine if the infection rate in the county was increasing or decreasing.

4 p.m. | New case data released

Here were the latest coronavirus numbers from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Thursday, with the daily increase in parentheses:

6,202 cases (+547)
1,221 hospitalized (+59)
56 counties (+2)
31,180 people tested (+1,981)
226 deaths (+33)
54 outbreaks residential/non-hospital healthcare facilities (+6)

The data Thursday marked the biggest single-day increase in cases and deaths in Colorado during the outbreak, though the CDPHE clarified the numbers, saying the big jump was attributed to earlier cases and deaths that hadn't yet been reported to the state until Tuesday.

3:40 p.m. | Texas AG says Gunnison County order is unconstitutional

The Texas attorney general wrote a letter to Gunnison County officials, calling their directive for prohbiting non-resident homeowners in the county "unconstitutional." Attorney General Ken Paxton's office, in the letter, said "to unlawfully prevent Texans from inhabiting or enjoying property that they own, regardless of its location within the U.S., is a blatant violation of our Constitution."

The order prohibits non-residents, including non-resident homeowners, from being in the county. Paxton's office asked Gunnison County health director Joni Reynolds to modify the order.

3:30 p.m. | Access restricted on Clear Creek

Jefferson County and Golden authorities will prohibit waterway activities on Clear Creek beginning 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the sheriff's office. The restriction applies to Clear Creek in unincorporated Jefferson County and the portions of the creek in Golden, including Vanover Park. The sheriff's office said it's difficult for recreational users of the creek to maintain six feet of social distancing, and if a rescue was needed, it would further strain resources for first responders.

2:50 p.m. | Telluride Bluegrass Festival canceled

Organizers have canceled the 47th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which was set to take place June 18-21. The festival is one of the most popular bluegrass festivals in the world and typically brings in thousands of visitors.

This is the easiest and most difficult decision that Planet Bluegrass has ever made; and, just when we had summoned the courage to finally announce to the world, John Prine passed. These words have been erased a dozen times. Neither fire, nor flood. A bug,” organizers wrote.

“It is a devastating realization that the very reason for the existence of Planet Bluegrass is unsafe to festivarians at this time. And far more devastating for the artists to feel the very purpose of their soul should not be expressed, at a time it’s needed most.”

The organizers said they would be contacting ticket holders directly and offering full refunds through email in coming weeks.

2:19 p.m. | Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment confirms 14 deaths at facility in Greeley

The Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed that there have been 14 deaths related to COVID-19 among residents at the Centennial Health Care Center in Greeley – information first reported by The Colorado Sun, which also reports there have been three more deaths at the facility whose tests have not been confirmed. As of Wednesday's data release, there were outbreaks at 48 residential and non-hospital health care facilities in Colorado.

2:15 p.m. | Colorado tops 127K initial unemployment claims in first 3 weeks of COVID-19 outbreak

An additional 46,065 people filed for unemployment benefits last week in Colorado, bringing the three-week total since the COVID-19 outbreak begin shutting down businesses to more than 127,000 initial claims.

Jeff Fitzgerald, the division director for the CDLE’s unemployment insurance division, said the CDLE received requirements for the CARES Act unemployment programs on Sunday and that a team of 70 was working “around the clock” to program changes to the state’s system, then to test it before it goes online.

Click here to read more.

1:45 p.m. | Clear Creek County closes county roads to non-residents

Clear Creek County commissioners on Thursday voted to close all county roads to non-residents, beginning 12:01 a.m. Saturday, as officials hope to reduce activity in the county during the coronavirus outbreak.

Commissioners Randy Wheelock and George Marlin voted in favor of the move, while Commissioner Sean Wood opposed it. Wheelock said the county has seen summer levels of activity on trails and in parking lots in the county, despite the statewide stay-at-home order. Through Wednesday, Clear Creek County had seven confirmed cases of COVID-19, though officials on Thursday warned that county's healthcare system could not handle a spike in cases. The nearest hospital is in Jefferson County, and Clear Creek only has three ambulances.

Sheriff Rick Albers said his office has recently responded to an overdosed snowmobiler on Loveland Pass and a bonfire party on the last full moon, proof, according to Albers, that people from the Denver area aren't following the stay-at-home order.

"They're coming up into our backyard," Albers said, "playing in our backyard."

The order from commissioners Thursday will only apply to county roads, not U.S. 6 and Interstate 70 and city streets.

1 p.m. | Gov. Polis extends emergency disaster declaration

Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday signed an executive order extending Colorado's disaster emergency declaration another 30 days. The extension will allow the state to continue to have access to additional resources and authorizes the state's Crisis Standards of Care plan.

Polis also signed an executive order extending deadlines for state severance taxes from April 15 to May 15.

12:10 p.m. | Update from CDPHE/Emergency Operations briefing

COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman and Emergency Operations Center Director Mike Willis spoke at a bi-weekly briefing at 11 a.m. Here are some updates on the state’s response to the novel coronavirus:

--Bookman said state officials believe the measures taken by the state so far has pushed Colorado’s peak for COVID-19 into May, which he said was among officials’ goals with the measures.

--Willis reiterated that people should expect to see social distancing measures of some sort for “the foreseeable future” even once some start to be gradually lifted, as it will still be many months before a treatment can be developed and approved. As the governor discussed Wednesday, the state is planning on mass testing, isolation orders and better contact tracing if and when it starts to gradually lift and physical distancing measures.

--Willis said the state had obligated “a little over $50 million” so far in acquiring more medical equipment, PPE and other equipment but that “much” of that money would be reimbursable through the Stafford Act, FEMA and CDC grants.

--Bookman said county health departments and health care facilities are following the rules and reporting cases as they are supposed to. He said public health officials “believe it’s likely” there are cases in all 64 counties but that some cases currently showing none just haven’t had any lab-confirmed cases. Prowers and Gilpin counties reported their first cases Thursday morning, bringing the official state total to 56 counties.

--Bookman said the state continues to evaluate its models but said that initial data shows the stay-at-home order and social distancing measures taken in Colorado are working. He said the state was continuing to prepare for a surge so that hospital systems aren’t overburdened.

--The state is working to better define its data, Bookman said, including by demographic breakdowns. “We know there is a need for it, and we are working to develop it quickly,” he said.

--The state activated its crisis standards of care for EMS personnel and PPE earlier this week.

--The state has acquired refrigerated units as it ramps up its facilities. Willis said there is currently no need for them right now and they are being held in reserve and being stored in the event they are needed.

--The state has asked the federal government for two Battelle units that can sterilize up to 100,00 N95 masks per day.

--Bookman said the challenge in testing more cases continues to be the availability of PPE, viral transport equipment and sterile swabs. He said that with more private labs now online there is an “enormous amount of testing capacity.”

--Colorado currently has an excess of ventilators that are needed as of Thursday but is preparing to bring in more in anticipation of a surge in coming weeks, Bookman said. Willis said he expects the 100 ventilators promised by the president Wednesday would be inventoried by the state in the next 24 hours.

10:50 a.m. | Prowers County reports first positive case of COVID-19

Prowers County Public Health and Environment confirms that one person has tested positive for the virus. They have been in isolation since they were testing. Those who have been in contact with this person have been notified, the department said.

10:30 a.m. | Boulder's Food Tax Rebate program extends deadline

The Food Tax Rebate program in Boulder has extended its deadline to Sept. 30 due to COVID-19. The program helps compensate residents with lower incomes for the city sales tax that they pay on food. The application period is now open until Sept. 30. To learn more about this program and to apply, click here.

10:16 a.m. | Xcel Energy donates surgical masks

Last month, Xcel Energy donated more than 130,000 protective masks to the eight states it serves (including Colorado) and it just announced that it will donate an additional 192,000 masks, which include 4,000 N95 masks, to those states as well. More than 50,000 masks will go to Colorado, including 1,250 N95 masks. The masks will go to healthcare workers and other first responders.

9:55 a.m. | Reminder: Denver's City and County Building lit up tonight

In a press release sent out Thursday morning, Mayor Michael Hancock said the City and County Building will be illuminated in red and white lights at 8 p.m. to support first responders and medical personnel.

9:40 a.m. | First Gilpin County resident tests positive for COVID-19.

A man in his 50s has tested positive for COVID-19 in Gilpin County. This is the first known positive case in the county. He is undergoing treatment in Jefferson County.

“Our team is working closely with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and our partners at Jefferson County Public Health to further investigate this case,” said Gilpin County Sheriff Kevin Armstrong. “We hope this patient recovers quickly and completely. The health and safety of the community is our number one priority and we are working around the clock to protect our community from this virus.”

8:30 a.m. | JeffCo Open Space says it aims to keep its trails and parks open

Jefferson County Open Space said it understands that getting outside for exercise and peace of mind is helping many residents. As more people are getting outdoors, JeffCo has received tips about potentially dangerous behaviors that don't adhere to the social distancing rules.

"We have every hope of keeping Jeffco parks and trails open for your enjoyment," the department said. "To do this, we need your help."

JeffCo Open Space is asking for any park or trail users to:
--Not leave home unless you need to
--Stay as close to home as possible and only recreate with those in your household
--Don't take unnecessary risks because this can potentially spread COVID-19 if a member of rescue group becomes ill. That person then must remain in quarantine for at least 14 days, which means fewer people are available to respond to emergencies
--Avoid crowds
--Check parking availability at JeffCo open Space's website
--Move on if a parking lot is full
--Wear a cloth covering your face and stay six feet from others. This protects not only you, but others if you have COVID-19 but don't have symptoms
--Be kind to others on the trail!

8:15 a.m. | CEA asks for more support from Gov. Polis
The Colorado Education Association has formally asked for Gov. Polis to do more to help students and educators during the pandemic. More than 3,200 members have called on him to take more steps to help them.

“We readily acknowledge the governor has shown brave and decisive leadership through this crisis,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, a high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association.
Baca-Oehlert said the state’s decision to close schools, cancel standardized testing and waive requirements for educator evaluations have helped, but aren't enough.

“Now we are calling on the governor to do more," Baca-Oehlert said. "Our state's lower income and vulnerable populations need more. Our educators and students need more."

Among other things, the petition requests that Polis:
--Cease all ICE_related arrests
--Have ICE to release nonviolent offenders
--Provide firm direction to school districts that are usually accustomed to having a great amount of local control in making decisions
--Have ICE to release nonviolent offenders

7:30 a.m. | Total number of initial unemployment claims filed in Colorado last week
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said 46,065 initial unemployment claims were filed for the week ending on Saturday, April 4.

The U.S. Department of Labor said this morning that 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment claims last week, meaning about 16 million people have applied for unemployment in the past three weeks.

4:30 a.m. | Lone Tree city, residents join forces to feed frontlne workers

The City of Lone Tree and its residents have launched Lone Tree Feeds, a campaign designed to provide free meals to local people on the front line of the pandemic.

The team (residents, city staff and former mayors) then works with local restaurants to coordinate the delivery of free meals to first responders. Those destinations include Sky Ridge Medical Center, South Metro Fire Rescue and the Lone Tree Police Department. To learn more or donate, click here.

Click here for the live blog from Wednesday, April 8, 2020.