Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from March 26, 2020

Posted at 5:57 AM, Mar 26, 2020

NOTE: This is the live blog from Thursday, March 26. To see the live blog for Friday, March 27, click here.

Colorado's statewide stay-at-home order begins at 6 a.m. today, meaning everybody in the state must stay at home unless they need to leave for an essential reason.

Critical businesses are exempt from this executive order, but must comply with the strict social distancing requirements — which includes staying six feet from people who don't live in your home — that the Colorado Department of Pubic Health and Environment, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, previously put in place. Click here to read more about this statewide order. Do not call 911 with questions about it.

As of Wednesday at 4 p.m., the state had tested 8,064 people in 35 counties. More than 1,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19. Nineteen people have died.

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, March 26

6:56 p.m. | Colorado Dept. of Corrections implements temporary moratorium on receiving new inmates from county jails

The Colorado Department of Corrections says it has implemented a temporary moratorium on receiving new inmates from county jails following Gov. Polis executive order which temporarily suspends certain regulatory statutes concerning the criminal justice system.

Due to this, the CDOC will be able to create empty bed space in facilities which will allow for staff resources to be shifted to open more living units at Centennial Correctional Facility South (CCF-S) in Canon City. Among other things, officials said:

-- By moving the initial intake to CCF-S, CDOC will be able to medically isolate new arrivals for up to fourteen days to ensure they are not symptomatic for COVID-19. After inmates are cleared for COVID-19 symptoms, they will be transferred to the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center (DRDC) to complete the intake and assessment process.
-- Moving the initial intake to CCF-S will minimize the risk of introducing COVID-19 to DRDC where a large number of inmates are housed with high medical needs.
-- During the temporary suspension of intake, CDOC will work with counties on a case by case basis to accept inmates from jails that are faced with overcrowding or public safety issues.

6:39 p.m. | Gov. Polis signs additional executive orders

Governor Polis has signed an Executive Order authorizing certain State agencies to promulgate and issue emergency rules extending the expiration date for certain licenses and other documents to limit in-person renewals and enable state agencies to better respond to COVID-19. This includes state park passes, and licenses for health care facilities, Medicaid and CHIP providers, commercial drivers, and more. Read the full Executive Order here.

6:16 p.m. | Pueblo County confirms its first death from COVID-19

An 81-year-old woman in Pueblo County has died from the novel coronavairus, the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment says. No other details about the patient were immediately released.

The PDPHE is now working to identify close contacts the woman may have had to continue protect the Pueblo community and reduce the spread of the virus.

5:28 p.m. | Larimer County Natural Resources closing offices to prevent further spread of coronavirus

While Larimer County Department of Natural Resources’ parks, open spaces, and trails remain open, public access at its Offices and Visitor Centers will close beginning Friday, March 27 through Friday, April 17, 2020 to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado.

5:08 p.m. | Wheat Ridge extends closure of city facilities until April 10

The city of Wheat Ridge is extending the closure of its city facilities and playgrounds through Friday, April 10 to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Colorado. This include City Hall and Municipal Court. The Recreation Center, the Anderson Building and the Active Adult Center will remain closed through April 30.

5:05 p.m. | 4,500 of test kits for health care workers, first responders being distributed to Larimer, Mesa, El Paso counties

Earlier today, we reported that officials from the CDPHE and state EOC said Colorado is expected to get a total of 7,500 test kits specifically to test health care workers and first responders this week and, hopefully, next week.

The CDPHE and EOC said Thursday afternoon they are distributing 4,500 of the kits to the health departments in Larimer, Mesa and El Paso counties.

Symptomatic workers will be tested to see if they can continue work or need to isolate.

4:46 p.m. | Most of Colorado's congressional delegation urges President Trump to approve Major Disaster request

Eight of Colorado’s nine members of Congress on Thursday wrote to President Donald Trump asking him to approve Gov. Jared Polis’ request that the president declare a Major Disaster for the state – as he has in New York, California and Washington.

Another request made by the full delegation on Wednesday – for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to approve a 1135 waiver to give the Colorado Medicaid program more flexibility during the outbreak – was granted Thursday, Sen. Bennet said. Click here to read more.

4:39 p.m. | Colorado Department of Corrections parole officer from the Sterling region tests positive for coronavirus

A parole officer from the Sterling region working at the Colorado Department of Corrections has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Officials say the parole officer did not work inside a prison. The department will now contact any staff members or others who need to be notified about potential contact with the parole officer who tested

The department is investigating who the parole officer had contact with and where the parole officer has been. Officials say any staff member who tests positive, is pending results or has demonstrated possible symptoms has been put on administrative leave.

No inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.

4:23 p.m. | Two test positive for COVID-19 in Buckley Air Force Base housing

Two Buckley Air Force Base housing residents have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) today, after samples were sent and tested by health officials at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Buckley Air Force Base officials say. One resident is a spouse who was ordered by the installation commander to self-isolate late last week. The other resident is the first service member to test positive at Buckley AFB on March 18. Both individuals are in isolation.

An investigation of their contacts has been completed and everyone they have interacted with has been notified and are in quarantine.

Team Buckley members who are feeling ill during duty hours are encouraged to contact the Buckley AFB clinic at 720-847-9355 for specific guidance on how to proceed. If members are feeling ill after duty hours, they can contact the nurse advice line at 800-874-2273 for further direction, officials said.

4 p.m. | CDPHE: Positive cases of COVID-19 in Colorado near 1,500

The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus in Colorado neared 1,500 on Thursday, with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) announcing 1,430 people had tested positive as of 4 p.m. Thursday.

A total of 36 more people were hospitalized, bringing the total of hospitalizations to 184. The new virus is also now present in 39 of Colorado's 64 counties, three more than reported a day prior. The CDPHE said 2,058 more tests had been received by the state, bringing the total number of people who have been tested for COVID-19 to 10,122. State health officials said 24 people have now died from the disease, five more from Wednesday's numbers.

State health and government officials believe there are many more cases in the state but are prioritizing testing for those who are most at-risk.

3:39 p.m. | Sen. Michael Bennet to hold telephone town hall

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet will hold a telephone town hall tomorrow, Friday, March 27 at noon to provide an update on the COVID-19 federal response and to answer Coloradans’ questions along with Jerene Petersen from Mile High United Way, Greg Stasinos from the Colorado Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response/Colorado Department of Health, and Mark Crisman from the Colorado Health Emergency Line for Public Information (COHELP).

Bennet will also discuss the state's priorities secured in the Senate-passed coronavirus aid and economic relief package (CARES Act) and the officials will provide information about coronavirus resources available to Coloradans.

If you'd like to participate, RSVP here.

3:25 p.m. | Call 211, not 911, for coronavirus resources

The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center on Thursday activated a 2-1-1 phone number for questions about getting resources amid the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado.

Residents can also visit or text their zip code to 898-211 for information via text. Officials are urging residents to not call 9-1-1 unless it's a medical emergency.

3:19 p.m. | US surpasses China in number of positive cases of COVID-19

The United States is reporting 82,404 cases of the novel coronavirus, officially surpassing China as the country with the most cases of COVID-19 across the world, according to the latest worlwide data. The Associated Press reports global cases of the pandemic have crossed the 500,000 mark after 6,153 new infections in Italy.

3:04 p.m. | Pitkin County reports 1st death from coronavirus

A 94-year-old man with serious underlying conditions has died from COVID-19, Pitkin County Health officials said Thursday. The man, who died Tuesday at his home in Aspen, had been suffering from COVID-like symptoms but had not been diagnosed prior to his death, health officials added. Confirmation of the infection was received early Thursday by the Pitkin County coroner.

“Our hearts are heavy having learned of this first death in our community’s struggle against the spread of COVID-19,” said Karen Koenemann, director of Pitkin County Public Health. “We especially want the family of the victim to know how sorry we are. We know our community will support each other with kindness and compassion in recognition of the significance of this loss."

2:46 p.m. | Team: Colorado Avalanche player recovered from COVID-19

The Colorado Avalanche said they learned today a player tested positive for COVID-19 but has been in home isolation since they first had symptoms and have since recovered. The organization notified people who were in close contact with the player, the Avalanche said.

“The health and safety of our players, staff, fans, and community remains our highest priority. The Avalanche organization will continue to work in conjunction with our medical staff and public health officials to do everything we can to help the Avalanche community remain safe and healthy during this time,” the organization said in a statement.

2:43 p.m. | Denver inmates test negative for COVID-19

The Denver Sheriff Department says 23 inmates at the Denver Downtown Detention Center who had COVID-19 symptoms were tested by Denver Health and tested negative. The hospital will continue to screen and test people who have symptoms that meet testing requirements, the sheriff department said.

2:41 p.m. | Crow, Porter introduce bill to try to force usage of Defense Production Act for more PPE

Congressman Jason Crow and California Rep. Katie Porter, along with other lawmakers, on Thursday introduced a new measure that, if enacted, would force President Trump to further use the Defense Production Act to start buying and having manufacturers produce personal protective equipment (PPE) to fight COVID-19. Click here to read more.

2 p.m. | Colorado General Assembly to meet Monday

The Colorado General Assembly will meet for a limite session Monday, March 30. The Capitol will be open for people with essential business related to the session, according to the Legislative Council Staff. The legislature was suspended earlier this month amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Here's the agenda for the Senate and the House.

1:36 p.m. | CU Boulder updates commencement plan

Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said Thursday that CU Boulder will invite its spring 2020 graduates to partake in a livestreamed commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16. The chancellor is also inviting the graduates to return to campus in May 2021 for special events in recognition of their years of hard work to achieve their degrees. The announcement was made after the chancellor canceled in-person commencement ceremonies on March 17.

1 p.m. | Boulder Co., Jefferson Co., Tri-County health departments adopt state order

Boulder County Public Health, Jefferson County Public Health and Tri-County Health Department have all rescinded the local stay-at-home public health orders and adopted the state order.

12:47 p.m. | Colorado to receive 7,500 COVID-19 tests specifically for health care workers, first responders

Colorado will receive 7,500 tests for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) this week and next week specifically to test health care workers and first responders in the state, the director of the state emergency operations center said Thursday.

Colorado Emergency Operations Center Director Mike Willis said Colorado received the initial 5,000 tests this week and is hopeful it will receive the remaining 2,500 tests next week.

He said that the tests for the two groups would be administered in northern and southern Colorado and on the Western Slope, though he did not give specifics on exactly where the tests would be conducted.

Willis said the extra and specific tests – they are not for the general public – would be a great opportunity to “absolutely protect the most critical component of the health care system – that is the people in it.”

12:25 p.m. | Polis applauds Senate's COVID-19 relief bill

Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday praised the U.S. Senate's passage of the COVID-19 funding bill and said he was "grateful" to Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner for their work on the bill.

"Thank goodness people will be getting a$1,200 cash payment and $500 per child. It doesn’t make up for the lost income, but it helps," Polis said in a statement. "I’m also thrilled to see small business support beyond loans and additional help beyond the $1200 payment to hard-hit workers, including those self-employed or making their way in Colorado’s gig economy, the bill more than doubles the average unemployment benefit by adding $600 to the weekly benefit.”

12:15 p.m. | CPW campgrounds close indefinitely

All Colorado Parks and Wildlife campgrounds have closed until further notice. Current campers will be asked to leave immediately and staff will contact anybody with a reservation to change their plans or give them a refund. Most parks remain open. Click here for more details.

12:10 p.m. | CDPHE and Emergency Operations update

Scott Bookman, the incident commander for the Colorado COVID-19 response, and Mike Willis, the director of the State Emergency Operations Center, held a press briefing at 11 a.m. to provide updates on the latest on the state’ response to the virus outbreak.

-Willis said that through a federal program through the Department of Health and Human Services, Colorado has received 5,000 – and will receive 2,500 more tests – in order to test 7,500 health care workers and first responders in the state in northern and southern Colorado and the Western Slope. The testing program will not be for community members who are not health care workers or first responders.

-Regarding when the social distancing and stay-at-home orders might end up showing up in the state data, Bookman said the CDPHE anticipates “it will take several weeks.”

“We will not know for quite some time what impact the stay-at-home order and social distancing has had on cases,” he said.

-Bookman said the state does not currently have a true estimate of how many times more cases there are in Colorado compared to the number of lab-confirmed cases. “We all do believe there are certainly several thousand more than we have reported at this time,” he added.

-Willis said that the governor’s innovative response team is looking at all kinds of options to increase testing and other epidemiological methodology. He said the team was looking “very hard” at the blood testing being done in San Miguel County and said “all things are on the table.”

-Bookman said the state was modeling data looking at other states and countries to see what might happen with the outbreak in Colorado. He said that an initial lack of access to testing and data “has certainly made it more challenging to containing outbreaks in our state.”

-Willis said on multiple occasions that there were reports that some companies and employers were forcing people to come to work. Both he and Bookman said voluntary compliance with the governor’s stay-at-home order and the updated public health order would be key to flattening the curve. If the orders are not effective, Willis said the governor could consider additional actions. He said it was “very unfortunate an employer would put their employees in that situation.”

-For essential workers who do not have badges or ID that shows where they work and are considered essential, their employers can issue them a letter to show they are essential in the event they are stopped and questioned.

Noon | Two more deaths in El Paso County

Two coronavirus deaths were reported Thursday in El Paso County, according to our news partners at KOAA. That brings the county's total to seven COVID-19 deaths. We'll be receiving updated statewide totals at 4 p.m.

11:35 a.m. | First Boulder County death

Boulder County officials on Thursday reported the county's first coronavirus death, a Lafayette resident in their 60s who had underlying health issues. As of Thursday, 62 Boulder County residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Seven are hospitalized, 23 are isolating at home and 24 have recovered.

10:52 a.m. | Updated public health order including other critical services

The Colorado Governor’s Office and Department of Public Health and Environment released an updated public health order to go along with Wednesday’s executive order that put in place a statewide stay-at-home order in Colorado until April 11.

Among the updated critical services:

--K-12 public and private schools for the purpose of providing meals, housing, facilitating or providing materials for distance learning, and providing other essential services to students.
--Postsecondary institutions including private and public colleges and universities for the purpose of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that Social Distancing Requirements are observed, such as security, medical and mental health service, housing, food service, and critical research
--Pastoral services for individuals who are in crisis or in-need of end-of-life services
--Houses of worship may remain open, but must practice social distancing or use electronic platforms
--Professional services, such as legal, title companies, or accounting services, real estate appraisals and transactions

All services are still subject to social distancing requirements and are encouraged to put in place telework options and staggered schedules.

10:30 a.m. | Local support group holding virtual meetings to help moms connect during coronavirus outbreak

A group of Colorado moms – “You Are Not Alone, Mom to Mom” – is hosting virtual support group meetings over Zoom while everyone is stuck at home because of social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here from Denver7’s Nicole Brady.

9 a.m. | Reminder: CSP on accident alert

Colorado State Patrol is on an accident alert across the state, meaning you should only report crashes if a vehicle is disabled due to the damage, a person or people died in the crash, alcohol or drugs were involved, it was a hit-and-run or if there's damage to public property. If you're in a crash that does not fall under one of those categories, exchange information and file an accident report online as soon as you can. Read more on accident alerts here.

8:47 a.m. | Weld County releases map of COVID-19 spread in county

The health department in Weld County shared a map Thursday morning illustrating where positive cases are generally located in the county. Weld County is currently reporting 104 positive cases and four deaths. All the people who died were individuals in their 70s with underlying health conditions.

Dr. Mark Wallace, executive director for the health department for the county, said if people can visually see where Weld County’s cases are, they may take the reality of the situation more seriously.

"However, we want to stress that if a community is not represented on the map, it doesn’t mean there are no cases of COVID-19 there," he said. "It means, we aren’t aware of any positive test results, but people can carry the virus and not be symptomatic. We should assume the virus is everywhere in Weld County and, frankly, Colorado.”

Weld County COVID-19 cases March 26, 2020 9 a.m.

8:03 a.m. | No Opening Day, but Rockies plan a "Opening Day at Home"

Today would have marked Opening Day for the Colorado Rockies. As an alternative, the team will have what they've called an at-home doubleheader:
-1 p.m.: Watch Nolan Arenado's Walk-Off Cycle Game on Twitter and Facebook
-7 p.m.: Watch Clint Barmes' 2005 Opening Day Walk-Off on the MLB Network

6 a.m. | Statewide stay-at-home order now in effect

Colorado's stay-at-home order, which requires all residents to stay at home unless they must leave the house for an essential reason,is now in effect.

During a press conference Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis said all of the state's more than 5,700,000 residents should only interact with people in their own households and should only leave their homes for essentials, such as groceries and medical care. Businesses deemed "critical" will be exempt from the order but will still be required to take social distancing measures. Read more here. Do not call 911 if you have questions about the order.

You may have noticed that the alert sent out to phones around 8:20 p.m. Wednesday read that the order goes into effect at 8 a.m. The state confirmed that was a typo and that it goes into effect at 6 a.m.

Click here for updates from March 25.