This article is updated multiple times a day with coronavirus news from Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak region and elsewhere in Colorado — and along with other COVID-19-related stories is free as a public service to non-subscribers of The Gazette. Click here to sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. If you're not already a full Gazette subscriber, click here for options.

     

The latest around Colorado

TUESDAY

- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Tuesday that 23 new presumed positive cases of the coronavirus brought the state's total to 183.

- The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment saw a surge of unemployment claims up to 6,800 Tuesday from 400 on March 7. The unprecedented traffic is slowing down processing times for applications, according a news release. 

The department is encouraging workers who have seen their hours cut back to seek part-time jobs in delivery, transportation, grocery stores and businesses in other fields that are hiring.

- The state's second coronavirus death was reported in Weld County Tuesday afternoon. 

The fatality was a man in his 70s who is connected to one of the earlier identified positive cases, a Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment statement said.

“Protecting our high-risk populations from COVID-19 is imperative,” said Mark Wallace, executive director of the county health department. “We are strongly suggesting people practice social distancing in order to prevent future COVID-19 deaths and protect our workforce. Every single reduction in the number of contacts you have per day will have a significant impact on the virus’s spread.”

- The University of Colorado Boulder said Tuesday that the school's in-person commencement ceremony was cancelled. 

"As with many institutions across the country, it is with great regret that we are announcing the cancellation of our in-person commencement on May 7, as well as all college, school and department-based recognition ceremonies, due to COVID-19," a statement from CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano said.

- Attorney General Phil Weiser on Monday warned businesses that do not provide promised refunds due to coronavirus-canceled activities that his office will investigate. More here.

- Schriever Air Force Base announced additional precautions against the coronavirus Tuesday. They include:

• Restricted area access limited to specified mission essential personnel only.

• Child Development Center and School Age Center, Outdoor Recreation Framing and Engraving, Fitness Center and Indoor Running Track, including after-hours access, Event Center and Bennie’s are closed.

• Large events and gatherings of more than 10 personnel are cancelled or postponed.

• Base Shuttle service inside and outside the RA will be suspended.

• The following agencies are available by appointment only: 50th Force Support Squadron, 50th Comptroller Squadron and Airman and Family Readiness Center.

• Facilities outside the restricted area, not specifically identified above, will remain open. However, commanders and supervisors are minimizing the number of personnel in the work centers, primarily through telework.

• The Satellite Dish Dining Facility will be limited to Building 300/400 occupants and 50th Space Wing mission essential personnel only and will be take-out only.

• Food truck service will be suspended.

• Ongoing construction projects outside the RA will continue.

• Construction projects inside the RA are being considered on a case by case basis.

- The Colorado Lottery Claims offices will be closed to the public from March 18 to April 18. 

- Rocky Mountain National Park cancelled snowshoe walks, full moon walks, field trips and Earth Day events, a park news release said Tuesday.

The park is still open as of Tuesday afternoon, but park visitor centers including Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, Fall River Visitor Center and Kawuneeche Visitor Center were closed indefinitely. 

"The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority," the statement said. "The National Park Service is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels."

Click here for more updates on Rocky Mountain National Park.

- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area are closing the South Rim Visitor Center at Black Canyon and Elk Creek Visitor Center at Curecanti are closed until further notice beginning Tuesday. The park and the recreation area will stay open for the public in activities such as as ice fishing, hiking, sightseeing, and snowshoeing/Nordic skiing.

- Cinemark announced it will close U.S. theatres beginning Wednesday, March 18 until further notice. Tickets that were purchased in advance will be refunded, the company said. Online purchases will be automatically refunded in five to seven business days.

- A long-term care facility resident and staffer in Larimer County have both tested positive for coronavirus, the county's health department said in a Tuesday press release. Both cases occurred at North Shore Health & Rehab Facility in Loveland; the facility's operating company agreed to release its name in the interest of public health, the release stated. National and state health officials are working to investigate and prevent further spread of the virus, the release added.

-El Paso County is closing some offices to residents, limiting services and providing sick leave to employees that normally would not qualify, to help limit the spread of coronavirus. More here. 

- Care and Share has assembled 300 emergency food boxes that will be distributed by local partners to help those affected by the current coronavirus situation. They will not be distributed directly to the public in order to protect public health, an organization spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"As COVID-19 forces many families to go without meals, paychecks and resources, the number of people needing food assistance from Care and Share is likely to grow,” said the food bank's CEO, Lynne Telford, in a Tuesday press release. “Our biggest challenge is that we must maintain our food supply to match growing demands. We are asking the community to rally behind us in the form of volunteering and financial support to allow us to be nimble and flexible in our response."

People in need of food assistance can find more information to contact local partners at careandshare.org/FindFood.

To learn more about helping, click here. To find your nearest food bank, click here

- End-of-the-year testing for students, including administration of the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) test, will be paused for the year due to school closures, Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes announced in a Tuesday press release. The state department of education is working with The College Board to develop methods for high schoolers to take the SAT and ACT tests, the release added.

"I’m a big fan of accountability and transparency in public education, but we will simply have to forgo incredibly useful data on student achievement for a year to help contain the virus,” Gov. Jared Polis said in the release. "Right now, students, families and educators need to be focused on doing everything they can to keep families safe and stable."

- Denver Water announced Tuesday that Waterton Canyon will be closed indefinitely until March 18. 

“Waterton Canyon is a popular recreation destination and we recognize the closure will create inconveniences,” said Brandon Ransom, manager of recreation for Denver Water, in a news release. “Closing the canyon will help ensure employee and public safety.”

- Social Security offices in Colorado and around the nation are closed effective today for the safety of the nation's older residents with underlying medical conditions. Secure online services remain available. More here.

- Pikes Peak Community College remains open as of Tuesday afternoon, with essential student services such as computer labs, advising and counseling still available, a school news release said.

Click here for a list of available PPCC services. 

Spring break at the college was extended from March 16-27. When students return on March 30, many of the classes will transition to online, the release said. 

"However, several classes especially those with hands-on engagement like nursing and Law Enforcement Academy will be held on campus with as much social distancing between students as possible."

All campus events have been canceled, the statement said. 

- Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center will have two El Paso County Veteran Service Officers at its office "so as not to deny someone that desperately needs access to their Veteran Benefits," an organization statement said Tuesday.

"Our Behavioral Health professionals and interns are continuing to see their clients," the statement said. "This is a stressful and confusing time and we don’t want to leave the vulnerable without the mental health support they need. Until we are forced to close our doors, we will remain open for business."

"(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) protocols are being followed for all employees and guests entering our building. Extra cleaning services have been ordered and employees in the building are sanitizing while the building is occupied. We are doing our best to keep everyone safe from the spread of COVD-19."

- Fountain Utilities said Tuesday that the company will not disconnect services or assess late fees while the community responds to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

"Out of an abundance of caution for customers and staff, lobby doors were closed on Monday, March 16th and all non-emergency service requests were suspended until further notice," a company statement said.

- Yesterday Gov. Jared Polis announced the 30-day suspension of the operation of restaurants and bars, with drive-through and delivery being the exception. Gyms and theaters will also be closed as of 8 a.m. this morning. More here.

- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo announced it will close on Tuesday and plans to reopen April 1. More here.

- Colorado Springs-area school districts are partnering to offer free breakfast and lunch to children, regardless of which district they attend, during extended school closures. Find more information and a map here.

     

MONDAY

- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has confirmed 29 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. That brings the total number of positive cases to 160.

-Red Rocks is suspending shows through May 11. See the summer lineup here.

- Following Gov. Polis' executive order on Saturday that Colorado ski resorts must temporarily close, Loveland and Monarch ski mountains announced the end of their 2019-2020 ski seasons Monday. Meanwhile, other resorts including Vail Mountain, Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creak and Crested Butte planned to shut down through March 22. More here.

- The Colorado National Guard has been mobilized to assist with testing sites in mountain communities, a state health department spokesperson said Monday afternoon. Widespread transmission has been seen in some mountain communities, and mobile labs will assist epidemiologists in understanding spread where data is not yet available, he said. Approximately 50 of the state's National Guard members have been mobilized, and about 30 more are supporting in their full-time roles from headquarters, a Guard spokesperson said Monday.

- Current daily state testing capacity remains at 250 samples, a state health department spokesman said Monday. Other private partners are working to increase testing capacity. LabCorp and Quest accepted a batch of 200 samples from the state but "have not told us when they'll be able to accept more," he said. The state is focusing efforts on establishing testing centers in mountain communities where there is no information about spread, he added.

- Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers declared a state of emergency Monday in response to the coronavirus. Doing so "gives the city its best ability to respond" to the virus by making it eligible for federal funding, when it becomes available, and provides Suthers with authority to issue regulations, according to a Monday email from the city. More here.

- The Denver Zoo is closing Monday at 4 p.m. All scheduled events and programs, including spring break camps, Up-Close Animal Encounters and community outreach programs, will be cancelled or rescheduled, the zoo announced.

- The Teller County Board of Health is recommending citizens and all those visiting the county to practice social distancing starting Monday to limit community spread of COVID-19.

- A new COVID-19 testing site will open Tuesday in Telluride as an effort to support mountain communities in Colorado. Fifty nurses are joining Colorado's coronavirus testing centers and healthcare facilities across the state, according to the state health department.

- Mountain Metropolitan Transit reduced bus service Monday because of a shortage of bus drivers reporting for work. Transit for those with disabilities will not change.

Residents in 16 cars were in line for the UCHealth drive-up coronavirus sample collection site at South Parkside Drive and Kidskare Point before it opened Monday morning, said Cary Vogrin, a spokeswoman for UCHealth.  The drive-up site requires a doctor's order to be swabbed at the site, and 50 people were tested on Friday, she said. The site is open from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Inmates at the El Paso County jail will continue to have access to video visitation, but symptomatic persons who show up to the video visitation center will be turned away, the sheriff's office said. Online visitation is encouraged. Otherwise, it's "business as usual" for visitation, a sheriff's office spokesperson said.

- Denver's Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday issued two orders, one banning gatherings of 50 or more people, another closing bars and restaurants' indoor seating. Both will last for eight weeks, according to Gazette news partner 9News. The later goes into effect Tuesday. More here.

- The state heath department issued recommendations for parents and guardians on Monday, saying that even though children are at lower risk of contracting severe disease from coronavirus, they can easily spread the virus to others, including those most a risk. Children should practice social distancing and stay 6 feet away from other when in pubic. Sick children should not be taken into public, according to a press release from the department.

- Three people who were on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus last week — either staff, faculty or students — were in direct contact with a confirmed positive coronavirus case, according to UCCS spokesman Jared Verner. All are now in self-isolation, he said Monday. More here.

- With schools in the Colorado Springs area closed for the next two weeks due to the coronavirus threat, districts are stepping up to ensure local children still eat well. Full details and locations.

               

KEY LINKS

More full coverage of coronavirus in Colorado.

MAP: A look at cases in Colorado.

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