Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates across the state

El Paso County Public Health identify six cases of COVID-19 in Laurel Manor Care Center
Coronavirus COVID-19 background
Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 09, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — According to the El Paso County Public Health, there are six identified cases of COVID-19 in Laurel Manor Care Center in El Paso County.

“As a public health agency, we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Susan Wheelan, El Paso County Public Health Director. “Our team became aware of these additional cases late this afternoon and took immediate action to coordinate efforts with Laurel Manor Care Center and state partners to assess the situation and respond appropriately.”

According to County Health, they are diligently working to ensure ill patients are receiving the proper care while limiting further spread of disease.

Crowley County COVID-19 related death

An “elderly” resident of Crowley County who had several chronic medical conditions is the fourth known death from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) , county health officials said Thursday afternoon. The Otero County Health Department issued the notice about the resident who had died and tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. The county only said the patient lived in Crowley County, was elderly and “had other multiple, chronic medical conditions, was in the high risk group.” READ MORE

The death is the second reported in Colorado so far on Thursday. Earlier in the day, El Paso County said a man in his 60s, who had contact with an El Paso County woman in her 80s who died of the virus, had also died as a result of COVID-19.

Fremont County has confirmed two probable COVID-19 cases. The Department of Public Health and Environment says personnel are now working with the two patients to gather information on potential exposure to others in the community. Everyone is reminded to please stay home if they develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds wit soap and warm water.

New state resource

There is a new COVID-19 website the state launched.The site contains a "breadth of informational resources and improved data visualization for COVID-19," according to the state. The visualization dashboard on the site features data on the state's testing results, including total test results completed, total positive results, positive cases by county, transmission type, and patient outcome, and number of hospitalizations and fatalities.

The state said the data will be updated daily around 4 p.m. The site can be found here:

Polis made an announcement saying there are "likely thousands of cases in Colorado" of people who have not been tested or who have tests pending.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment data includes cases up to Wednesday.

  • 277 cases
  • 38 hospitalized
  • 22 counties
  • 2,952 people tested
  • 2 deaths

King Soopers offers special hours for senior citizens

Starting on Friday, King Soopers will make 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays an exclusive time for senior citizens to visit for their shopping needs. The move is in line with other grocers doing what they can to assist at-risk populations.

"We request that customers respect these hours for the health of our community. We appreciate all customers for their kind consideration, whose concern contributed to our decision to provide designated shopping hours for seniors," the company said in a release.

All stores will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment order

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a public health order banning gatherings of 10 or more people, in accordance with the latest CDC guidelines to fight the spread of COVID-19. Gatherings include community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, festivals or any similar event that brings 10 or more people together, health officials said.

The governor also announced he would be extending the suspension of downhill ski area operations through April 6. Previously, he issued an executive order suspending ski area operations until March 22.

"We are in the middle of one of the greatest international public health disasters of our lifetime," Polis announced at an earlier conference. "...And it's critical for us to take it seriously to protect our most vulnerable Coloradans and protect the ability of our state's healthcare system to treat them and others."

He reiterated the personal responsibilities Coloradans to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that those should stick to the 14-day isolation guidelines if they are showing flu-like symptoms. "This is really an all-hands-on-deck effort," Polis said on keeping the virus from spreading across the state further and that a partnership with local governments to put forth an effort to combat the virus will be formed.

Polis launches website: Help Colorado Now

Gov. Jared Polis gave an update Wednesday on the the response to COVID-19, volunteer efforts and efforts to raise relief funds.

"This will be difficult, but this will also be temporary. Eventually, things will return to normal. The vast majority of us, as many people as possible, are going to be just fine," Polis said.

Polis announced there will be an official volunteer effort available across the state: Help Colorado Now. There is a relief fund available to contribute to on this website as well. Over the last two days, the state has raised $2.8 million in relief funds that will go directly back to Coloradans impacted by the virus.

He reassured that the unemployment website set up for claims related to COVID-19 is going to continue having high traffic, but those attempting to use the site should try in the early morning or late night to get through.

His office announced Tuesday that by order of Polis about 50 Colorado National Guard members have been mobilized and are on State Active Duty to support the State Emergency Operations Center and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment with medical support and logistics at drive-up COVID-19 testing centers in various communities throughout the state.

The CONG's 8th Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package are supporting San Miguel County at an appointment only drive-up testing center in Telluride March 17, 2020. The CONG will provide support in other Colorado communities that the state designates during the next 10 days. Both CONG teams are based at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado. They are armed with personal protective equipment.

Healthcare professional licensing changes

The Division of Professions and Occupations under the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) says it will expedite healthcare professional licensing to increase workforce capacity in Colorado as the state deals with the spread of COVID-19.

During a news conference, Gov. Polis said the directive will allow medical professionals with licenses in other states to practice immediately in the state of Colorado.

DORA says the emergency measure it is implementing include key provisions for renewal waivers, expedited license, waiver of supervision requirements, and expanded scope of practice for select health care providers such as physicians, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and respiratory therapists.

Southern Colorado testing sites

UCHealth has one testing site available for those with a note from their Printers Parkway location

The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment opened a testing site at the state fairgrounds. In order to be tested, you must call your health care provider if you want to make an appointment.

Fort Carson announced the establishment of the Centralized Screening and Testing Center (CSTC) at the Evans Army Community Hospital. The CSTC will officially open March 19 at 7 a.m. at the Soldier Family Care Center, will serve as a dedicated, initial screening and testing center for COVID-19 symptoms and concerns.

The center will provide screening, testing, and treatment for patients with symptoms associated with COVID-19 and will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fort Carson said 500 people are currently self-quarantined on the post and eight are in isolation. The post did say however that there have been no positive tests at this time.

Cases in El Paso/Pueblo County

A second death as a result of COVID-19 has been confirmed in El Paso County, according to a representative of the Public Health Department. The man was in his mid 60s who was in direct contact with the first victim in the county. There are 11 cases in El Paso County as of right now.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced on March 13 an El Paso County resident has died from COVID-19, the first death from the virus reported in Colorado.

The patient was a woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions. She died at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central. The hospital received her positive test result for COVID-19 after her death. The test is pending CDC confirmation. To protect patient privacy, UCHealth said it is not sharing specific information about patients.

The state also announced that El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) has learned that the woman who died in El Paso County attended bridge games at the Colorado Springs Bridge Center from Feb. 27 through March 3.

The agency said that if you or a close contact attended the Colorado Springs Bridge Center between late February and early March, AND are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider immediately. Do not go into the facility prior to calling ahead.

The announcement said this is especially important for people who attended the following games at the center:
02/27/2020 Thursday Evening Unit Pairs
02/28/2020 Friday Morning Pairs
02/28/2020 Friday Morning Pairs
02/29/2020 299er Pairs
03/01/2020 299er Swiss
03/03/2020 499'rs

The agency said during a press conference Saturday that they know the woman interacted with around 100 people while playing bridge. While investigating the case, they found another presumptive positive case in a man who did play bridge with her. That man is the third case in El Paso County.

There was some encouraging news on March 14 from El Paso County Public Health. The agency said the county's first case, a man in his 40s, has recovered from the virus and is back to living his normal life.

Health officials in Pueblo confirm an adult male in Pueblo has tested as presumptive positive for COVID-19. He is said to be isolated at home and recovering. The Pueblo Health Department is working to identify anyone the man has come in close contact with.

The Weld County Dept. of Public Health and Environment announced the second death caused by COVID-19 in Colorado.

The department said the victim is a man in his 70s and the death is connected to one of the earlier identified positive cases in Weld County. The case investigation is on-going.

Polis orders 30-day temporary suspension of dine-in services

During a press conference Monday, Governor Polis said that effective immediately, a 30-day temporary suspension of all dine-in services at restaurants and bars in Colorado is in effect. Take-out dining and to-go orders are not affected. Polis also said large places of gatherings, such as gyms and casinos will be shut down under the 30-day suspension. The order could be renewed in 30 days.

The state clarified later Monday that the public health order is effective March 17, 2020 at 8:00 a.m., and for the next 30 days closes brewpubs, breweries, microbreweries, distillery pubs, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, public bars, taverns, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, Cigar bars, gyms, gymnasiums, theaters, casinos, movie and performance theaters, opera houses, concert halls, and music halls, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other similar places of public accommodation offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption. These places are encouraged to offer food and beverage using a delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service. These establishments may allow up to five members of the public at one time on the premises for the purpose of picking up their food or beverage orders, so long as those individuals are at least six feet apart from one another.

The restrictions imposed by this order do not apply to any of the following: Places of public accommodation that offer food and beverage not for on-premises consumption, including grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores, and food pantries, Room service in hotels, Health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities; Crisis shelters or similar institutions; Food courts inside the secured zones of airports; and any emergency facilities necessary for the response to these events.

The state said Possible enforcement actions include fines or the possibility of filing an action in court.

You can read the public health order here.

Polis also launched the state's #DoingMyPartCO social media campaign, asking residents to share how they are helping slow the spread of coronavirus.

Colorado Springs, Fountain, Teller County declare state of emergency

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers declared a state of emergency for the city Monday morning. This will allow federal funding to become available to the city and gives the mayor authority to put regulations in place he deems fit in response to COVID-19. The state of emergency will last until the mayor decides the health emergency is over.

Part of the declaration is that departments and divisions within the city are to cooperate with the Director of Emergency Management and with each other "to provide assistance to the citizens of the City of Colorado Springs and to provide emergency and disaster assistance." Read the full proclamation here.

The state said it is now following the CDC, and all presumptive cases are now considered positive. The CDC is no longer performing confirmatory testing.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also announced March 15 new recommendations for anyone who lives in or has visited the mountain communities of Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, and Gunnison counties in the last week. The CDPHE recommends that anyone who has been in these counties in the last week minimize their contact with other people, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms.

The agency recommends that residents and visitors to these counties stay home as much as possible, work from home if possible, only go to public spaces for necessities, and continue healthy, non-group activities. Don't gather in group settings, maintain a distance of approximately six feet from others, don't use public transportation, and practice social distancing.

The CDC advised Sunday that organizers should cancel large events of more than 50 people that are scheduled in the next eight weeks.

The City of Fountain passed a Declaration of Emergency related to COVID-19. The city said the declaration will be in effect for the next 60 days unless the city council determines to extend it. The declaration will permit access to local emergency funds, Federal and State assistance and adjustments to policies, procedures, and ordinances to ensure the public’s health and welfare.

Teller County also declared a local disaster emergency on Tuesday. The Teller County Sheriff's Office said the declaration will enable access to resources that will make it possible for county officials to respond effectively when the virus arrives in Teller County.

For coronavirus-related closings in Colorado Springs, Pueblo and southern Colorado, click here.

School impacts

As colleges, universities, schools, government organizations, healthcare organizations, religious organizations and military installations start making decisions on their response to COVID-19 and prevention plan, we will keep you updated here: Coronavirus related closings in Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Southern Colorado

Due to schools being out of session for coronavirus prevention, Colorado’s end-of-year assessment tests, including the CMAS, will be suspended for the rest of the school year, and officials are working to figure out what to do about PSAT and SAT tests. The CEA wants schools statewide to close. Click here for more information from the Department of Education and from the CEA.

Hours after providing an update to the state's COVID-19 response on March 18, Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order suspending in-person learning in public and private schools across the state from March 23 to April 17. The executive order directs Colorado school districts and the Charter School Institute to make every effort to provide alternative learning opportunities during this time while taking into account the needs of local communities, according to a news release.

The order also directs the Commissioner of Education to issue guidance to support P-12 school systems in developing and implementing plans to help families and students in accessing alternative learning, providing free and reduced lunch and breakfast, and offering waivers for instructional time as appropriate. You can read the order here.

Local law enforcement/fire departments response

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office announced they will be limiting face-to-face interaction. Calls will be taken as normal, but dispatch will analyze whether there is an immediate threat or not. If there is, a deputy will be dispatched. If not, a deputy will call by phone.

Programs involving volunteers will be suspended for the time being. For more information on the steps being taken by the sheriff's office due to COVID-19, click here.

On Wednesday the El Paso County Sheriff's Office released the following message regarding their response to the COVID-19 situation.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department is implementing new field triage procedures. CSFD said the new triage system screens for potential COVID-19 patients; identifying those individuals who are healthy enough to remain at home, as well as those in need of more advanced medical care.

In some cases, after responding EMTs examine a patient, that patient may be advised that transport to a hospital is not indicated. This non-transport protocol is being implemented for two primary reasons to include:
1. If a patient is stable with normal vital signs and no associated risk factors, an Emergency Room will not provide them any additional care, and as they do not meet testing criteria they will NOT be tested for COVID-19 at an ER. They will also be entering an area that may expose them to unnecessary risk. In this situation, the patient will be provided with physician-approved home care guidance in line with current CDC recommendations.
2. Hospital resources and supplies are limited, as are the numbers of healthcare workers, ranging from doctors to first responders. All of these resources must be protected so that the most critically ill in our community can receive the care they need.

CSFD will continue to provide necessary emergency medical care as per usual.

Local health information

Health officials say it is crucial for people over 60 years of age, as well as, people with compromised immune systems who are more at-risk for respiratory infections to avoid large public gatherings and implored everyone to follow the CDC’s guidance in how to prevent themselves and others from getting or spreading the virus – washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer, covering noses and mouths when coughing and sneezing, and staying home if people are feeling ill.

The El Paso Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mark Waller signed a local disaster emergency declaration for the county due to developments related to COVID-19. The declaration will allow El Paso County to activate the Medical Reserve Corp., which can help alleviate the burden for medical personnel. In addition, it will also help local medical providers obtain personal protective equipment.

El Paso County Public Health reminds you to:

  • Wash your hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your inner elbow shirt sleeve
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Beware of false information spread via social media.

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Follow cases globally by using an online tool from the Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

Colorado State of Emergency declaration

Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency this week that allows access to more resources and more flexibility in addressing any potential outbreaks. He said there will be a focused effort to protect vulnerable members of the public to include people over 60 years old and those with compromised immune systems.

Polis said that the declaration shouldn’t lead people to believe that Colorado is not open for business, recreation or tourism, and said he believed it was the opposite – that the declaration would provide reassurances that the state is taking “every step to protect the spread of the virus and the most-vulnerable.”

Governor Polis said he would continue to pressure the federal government to “rapidly expand the testing capacity” and that expansion would likely lead to a rise in positive cases. “Testing more people is a very good thing. It’s crucial to slowing the spread of the virus and ensuring those who have tested positive and need to isolate have support,” Polis said. “The more people we test and the sooner we do it, the better chance we have at successful containment.”

Paid Sick Leave order - As part of a state of emergency declaration, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment ordered paid sick leave for workers in food service, hospitality, childcare, healthcare and education. Governor Polis is also asking private companies to offer paid sick leave for employees. The emergency rules take effect March 11 for 30 days or longer if the state of emergency declared by Polis continues. READ MORE