Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from March 23, 2020

Posted at 12:17 PM, Mar 23, 2020

Note: This blog contains updtes on COVID-19 from Monday, March 23, 2020. Click here for updates from Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

DENVER — Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Colorado, with the statewide total at 720 cases as of Sunday evening, including seven deaths. And more closures have been announced, too, including executive action by Gov. Jared Polis to have less than 50% of a workplace working at the building effective Tuesday.

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:

Monday, March 23

9:43 p.m. | Gunnison County reports 1st death from COVID-19; State total now at 9

Gunnison County officials are reporting a man in his 50s has died from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 - the first death associated with the new virus in the county.

The man was tested for COVID-19 by the coroner’s office after his passing a week and-a-half ago, county health officials said. Health and Human Services said they just received notice that the test came back positive.

The man's death brings the state total to nine.

9 p.m. | El Paso County confirms death related to COVID-19

El Paso County initially confirmed a fourth death related to the novel coronavirus, bringing the state total to nine as of Monday evening. The victim was identified as a man in his 80s, El Paso County Public Health officials said, adding they're investigating how he contracted COVID-19 as well as any possible contacts he may have had.

But later Monday, El Paso County Public Health said the man was a resident of another county, meaning there are three cases there, the health department said.

8:13 p.m. | Pitkin County issues "stay at home" order

Pitkin County public health officials have issued a "stay at home" order to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19 in the state, making it the fifth territory in the state to issue such an order. The stay at home order is effective through April 17.

The order exempts liquor and marijuana stores.

7:24 p.m. | Southern Ute Indian Tribe issues ‘Stay at Home’ advisory

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe in southwest Colorado has issued a "stay-at-home" order in Colorado this evening, following the footsteps of Denver and Boulder.

The tribe urges residents to stay at home unless it's to engage in essential activity, like taking care of an elder or going to work.

"At this time, the Tribal Council is encouraging voluntary compliance with these instructions. Should it be necessary to protect public health, the Tribal Council will consider a mandatory stay at home order," tribe officials said in a statement.

7:08 p.m. | Aurora not issuing stay-at-home order yet

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said in a Facebook post that because the city of Aurora lies within three different counties (Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties), a decision on whether to implement a stay-at-home order will need to be voted on by the Tri-County Health Department.

"My guess is that there will be a decision on which way to go within the next couple of days," he said.

6:56 p.m. | Grand County reports 'probable' positive case of COVID-19

Grand County officials say the spouse of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county is a "probable" positive case health officials are investigating.

"It is important to keep the big picture in mind and continue doing your part by social distancing so we can “flatten the curve” in our county. Flattening the curve refers to community isolation measures that keep the daily number of disease cases at a manageable level for medical providers," county officials said in a statement.

6:45 p.m. | PPE received by Colorado from Strategic National Stockpile being distributed, would last 1 day

Personal protective equipment and other items from the Strategic National Stockpile sent to Colorado started being shipped out to health care providers across the state Monday by the state, though health officials say the supply is only enough for one day of work statewide.

6:32 p.m. | Jeffco Sheriff's Office implementing more changes due to COVID-19

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is implementing some changes due to the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus in Colorado. Among them:

-- Reducing routine traffic stops
-- Handling more reports by phone
-- Utilizing one deputy instead of several to make contact with involved parties
-- Requesting individuals who need to speak with a deputy step outside homes or other locations to reduce the deputy’s exposure to additional people who may be inside.

You can read more here.

6:30 p.m. | Boulder issues stay-at-home order effective Tuesday at 5 p.m.

The city of Boulder is joining Denver in issuing a stay-at-home order, effective Tuesday, March 24 at 5 p.m. The order is in effect until April 10 and may be extended as needed, city officials said in a news release.

The order requires all residents in Boulder to stay home and for businesses to implement work from home policies and delivery of goods to the "greatest extent possible."

"All individuals are encouraged to conduct only essential activities necessary to promote health and safety, such as getting groceries, obtaining medical supplies, and getting outdoors only if strict social distancing is observed," the release states. "Voluntary measures are not enough, and we must enact a stay at home order for everything but the most essential activities if we are to flatten the curve and stop the social spread of COVID-19."

The order exempts liquor and marijuana stores.

5:47 p.m. | Two test positive for COVID-19 at Peterson Air Force Base

An active duty service member and a dependent have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Peterson Air Force Base officials say. The cases are not related and both patients are quarantined and receiving support and medical care.

Military health professionals say they are conducting a thorough investigation to determine whether any other personnel may have been exposed.

5:35 p.m. | Personal Protective Equipment collection drive in Larimer County happening Wednesday

Larimer County is asking Coloradans to come together for health care workers as they continue to work tirelessly in the fight against COVID-19. The county will hosting a PPE collection drive on Wednesday, March 25 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More details here.

4:57 p.m. | City amends stay-at-home order regarding liquor stores, recreational pot shops

City officials are amending a stay-at-home order that initially labeled liquor stores and recreational marijuana stores as "non-essential." The mandate created a rush from residents to liquor stores and recreational marijuana businesses, potentially putting groups of people at risk of contracting COVID-19.

The amended order states that liquor stores, as well as all marijuana stores - whether recreational or medical - will be exempt so long as "extreme physical distancing" is practiced.

"This is an evolving situation and guidance will continue to be refined to ensure that all physical distancing measures are having the desired impact," city officials said in a tweet.

4:55 p.m. | CBI: Firearm background checks up 227%

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation says it received 25,468 background checks for firearms transfers in the last week along, compared to only 7,773 received in the same timeframe last year - a 227% increase from last year, according to the figures provided by the agency.

The "historic volume" of requests has resulted in a queue of 12,442 with an average turnaround of approximately four calendar days, CBI officials say.

It's not only happening in Colorado. CBI says spikes and delays in background checks for firearms transfers are being reported nationwide.

4:40 p.m. | Cherry Creek to begin online learning on March 30

Cherry Creek Schools says it will begin remote learning for all students on Monday, March 30. Read more here.

4:31 p.m. | Denver of Corrections provides prevention plan update

The Colorado Department of Correction says it has begun to sign people up for video visitation options and will make it so that inmates get one free ten-minute call per week during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following Gov. Polis' order from Sunday that called for the reduction of in-person workforce by 50%, the DOC says it was closed its headquarters in Colorado Springs, and has begun implementing plans that will limit the amount of staff in facilities and buildings at any given time. The DOC also said it is temporarily suspending arrests of parolees for low level technical parole violations.

"These low level technical violations might include things like not being able to locate employment, establish a residence, see their parole officer in person, restitution requirements, etc. The temporary suspension still allows for arrest of offenders that are a risk to public safety," DOC officials said.

4:28 p.m. | Jeffco Schools will stop notifying parents of positive COVID-19 test results

In a letter to parents Monday afternoon, Jeffco Schools said that due to "the now widespread nature of this virus, a confirmed diagnosis is not unexpected," and therefore, the district will not be notifying school communities of positive test results.

"As JCPH (Jeff County Public Health) advises, our assumption should be that we have all potentially been exposed in one place or another," officials said in the letter.

However, they did say that if a member of the Jeffco Schools system has been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, they will notify the people affected directly. Individuals who have not been in close contact will not be notified, they said.

4:20 p.m. | Long lines forming at liquor stores, recreational marijuana shops

There was a run on Denver liquor stores and recreational marijuana shops Monday afternoon after Mayor Michael Hancock announced a stay-at-home order that goes into effect 5 p.m. Tuesday and which does not exempt the two types of businesses.

Liquor stores and recreational marijuana were not considered "essential" business under the order. Medical marijuana sales will still be allowed under the order, which runs through April 10 and can be extended, if needed.

Shortly after Hancock announced the order, lines began to form at several shops in Denver, including Argonaut Wine & Liquor on East Colfax Avenue.

4:16 p.m. | Positive cases of COVID-19 in Colorado now at 720, CDPHE says

The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in Colorado soared to 720 by Monday afternoon, according to the latest numbers from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The state saw 14 more hospitalizations, bringing the total to 72 people who hospitalized because of the disease, and added two more counties to its growing list of areas affected by COVID-19, bringing the total number of counties to 31. In its latest update, the CDPHE said it had received 788 tests back and reported 7 deaths across the state.

In total, Colorado has tested 6,224 people for COVID-19.

State and health officials believe there are thousands of cases of the novel coronavirus in the state that haven't been tested yet.

3:36 p.m. | Vitalant in need of blood donations

Vitalant is urging healthy Colorado residents to schedule an appointment and give blood as the coronavirus outbreak has "severely impacted the U.S. blood supply as Vitalant and other blood centers across the country are struggling to maintain stable inventories."

You are asked to call ahead to make an appointment. Do no walk-in.

3:21 p.m. | CenturyLink extending employee benefits, protections

CenturyLink says it is taking aggressive measures to ensure the safety, financial health and well-being of its employees. In a news release, the company said it is:

-- Having approximately 75% of its staff work from home
-- Voluntarily providing 80 hours of emergency paid time off for the next 60 days
-- Extending short-term disability benefits to new employees.

Read more here.

3:13 p.m. | Postponed shows get new confirmed dates

Several concerts and shows that were postpone due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in Colorado have new confirmed dates:

-- Iliza, at the Bellco Threatre: Friday, Sept. 11
-- Chris Tucker, at Paramount Theater: Friday, Sept. 11
-- David Spade, at Boulder Theater: Sunday, Sept. 13 at 5 p.m.
-- David Spade, at the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs: Friday, Sept. 11
-- Lewis Black, at Paramount Theatre: Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21
-- A Skeptical Extravaganza of Special Significance, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science: Thursday, Oct. 8

2:18 p.m. | Colorado Department of Labor adding staff to keep up with demand

The Colorado Department of Labor says it has added more staff to the customer call center to provide immediate assistance for those filing unemployment claims. The department also said it is implementing a new "last name" online filing system and revising web site content with answers to customer inquiries on filing errors.

A new voluntary gating system that allows claimants access to file based on last name is now recommended, but will be mandatory later this week:

-- If you need to file an unemployment claim and your last name begins with the letter A - M, file a claim on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, or after 12 noon on Saturday.
-- If you need to file an unemployment claim and your last name begins with the letter N - Z, file a claim on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or before noon on Saturday.

2:07 p.m. | Eagle County Sheriff's Office: Beware of scammers

The Eagle County Sheriff's Office continues to receive scam reports from the community about criminals trying to access their personal information in the midst of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Colorado. They advise people to never give out personal or financial information to anyone over the phone and to visit to report any type of computer or phone call scam calls that seem suspicious or threatening.

2:03 p.m. | Denver mayor orders residents to ‘stay at home’ amid COVID-19 epidemic

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued a "stay-at-home" executive orderMonday, directing all of the city's more than 700,000 residents to stay inside their homes as the COVID-19 epidemic continues to grow.

The directive will take effect 5 p.m. Tuesday and last until April 10, but the order could be extended.

Exemptions to the order include people in essential positions that need to travel to work and residents going to the grocery store, gas station, bank or other essential businesses.

"This isn't a recommendation anymore. People need to stay at home," Mayor Hancock said.

The mayor said the city will enforce the order if necessary, but he is asking residents to voluntarily comply to slow the spread of the virus.

The order applies only to residents of the city and county of Denver. The state of Colorado has yet to issue such an order. However, Governor Jared Polis issued an order Sunday directing employers to cut the number of in-person workers at businesses spaces to 50% or less of the workforce by Tuesday.

1:55 p.m. | WATCH: Denver mayor expected to announce 'stay at home' order during briefing

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is releasing more information about the city's response to COVID-19. Watch the briefing live in the player below:

Discover Colorado Live Zen Stream

1:25 p.m. | Rep. Michaelson Jenet actually tested positive for different coronavirus

Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet says a physician "misinterpreted" her results and she was actually positive for a different coronavirus, NL63. She remains in self-isolation and her family has been in self-quarantine since she started experiencing symptoms.

“While I am still feeling very sick from this other coronavirus, I am relieved to know that I haven’t inadvertently exposed anyone at the Capitol or in my community to COVID-19,” said Rep. Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “When I first received the results indicating a positive test for COVID-19, I felt it was important to notify people who may have been exposed; so I feel it is important to share this update as well, to ease the concerns of people I had been in close contact with. We know this disease is spreading rapidly, and one rare testing mishap should not change the seriousness with which we all must confront this public health emergency. Everyone has to follow the advice of public health officials and social distance, stay at home, wash your hands and follow best practices for stopping the spread of the virus.”

1:16 p.m. | First COVID-19 case reported in La Plata County

San Juan Basin Public Health says an adult in La Plata County has tested positive for COVID-19. SJBPH says it is doing disease investigation and control, including tracing the person’s contacts.

“San Juan Basin Public Health has been preparing for weeks as a case in our jurisdiction has been expected.”, said SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon. “We are operating under the assumption that COVID-19 is circulating in the community and aggressive social distancing steps should be practiced by all residents,” she said.

12:58 p.m. | Stay at home order for Denver

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will release more information at 2 p.m. about the city's response to COVID-19. He's also expected to announce a stay-at-home order and to explain what that means for Denverites.

12:40 p.m. | Probation office in Aurora closes

The 18th Judicial District Aurora Probation offices at 15400 E. 14th Place in Aurora have closed and will not reopen until April 6.

12:30 p.m. | Drive-up testing for pre-selected people in Montrose this week

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is sending resources to perform COVID-19 testing in Montrose this week along with Montrose County and the Colorado National Guard.

The site will only serve 100 high-risk patients who have been pre-selected for testing.

12:27 p.m. | Colorado attorney general asks for courts to reschedule criminal trials

The Colorado attorney general has asked state courts to reschedule trials to protect those involved in the trial from the novel coronavirus.

Trials require several parties: the defendants, the jury, witnesses, judges, attorneys and court staff. As the virus spreads around the state, Attorney General Phil Weiser said that continuing with these trials endangers everybody involved, and as a result, anybody they come in contact with.

12:13 p.m. | Sen. Smallwood tests positive for COVID-19

Colorado state Sen. Jim Smallwood, R-Parker, received test results back on Sunday confirming he was positive for COVID-19, the Senate Republicans said in a news release.

He is currently in Carlsbad, Calif. at his second home and plans to quarantine until March 31. The Senate GOP said the 49-year-old senator’s symptoms lasted from March 16-17, including a mild fever and chills.

He took a test for the virus on March 17 and received the results back Sunday. His wife tested negative, Senate Republicans said.

“I want to first let everybody know that I’m currently feeling great. Thankfully, my symptoms were mild and subsided quickly. Unfortunately, this shows just how valuable social distancing is in this difficult time, as despite my best efforts to follow the advice of medical professionals, I still contracted COVID-19 from an unknown source. I am currently quarantined and isolated at my second home in Carlsbad until March 30th. Stay safe, everybody.”

Noon | Officials ask for changes to unemployment filing

The surge of unemployment claims in Colorado has led to some difficulty navigating the state's unemployment website, so officials are asking filers to spread out their usage on the site.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment on Monday requested the following:

• If your last name begins with the letter A-M, file your claim on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday or after noon on Saturday.

• If your last name begins with the letter N-Z, file your claim on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or before noon on Saturday.

10:13 a.m. | Denver courthouse suspends dockets for rest of week

The Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse will be closed Monday and Tuesday, the docket there has been suspended for the rest of the week.

9:42 a.m. | First case of COVID-19 in Teller County

Teller County Public Health and Environment says it has its first confirmed case of COVID-19. It says that it may have other cases of the virus but has been limited in testing possible cases. The county health department said the following in a news release:

“Due to this fact, it is vitally important to follow all issued recommendations. These include washing hands for 20 seconds frequently, do not touch your face, and most importantly, practice social distancing - this means maintaining a space of at least 6 feet from others and not attending any gathering of more than 10 people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week- No exceptions.

“Self-isolate if you have symptoms for at least 3 days after resolution from fever (without fever –reducing medication), AND improvement in respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) AND at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

“Self-quarantine if you do not have symptoms but have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms, for 14 days to see if you become ill. If you do become ill, follow self-isolation as described above.”

Click here for COVID-19 updates from Colorado from Friday, March 20 through Sunday, March 22.