virus

Pedestrians cross a nearly deserted Manitou Avenue in downtown Manitou Springs, Colo., during the lunch hour Tuesday, March 17, 2020. The streets of the tourist town were empty as the State of Colorado closed all its restaurants and bars to dine-in eating because of the COVID-19 virus. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

With an estimated 30% of Manitou Springs’ 5,350 residents losing their jobs, having their hours cut or getting orders for work canceled, city leaders fear the coronavirus will have a devastating impact on its population.

But the small town known for its tourist attractions, artists, musicians, alternative healers and other creative types, is prepared to help people who live and work in the community, said Natalie Johnson, executive director of the Manitou Art Center and head of the Manitou Springs Creative District.

The city has announced through a YouTube video featuring former mayor Ken Jaray that at least $50,000 will be given to those who have been affected by COVID-19 in the form of $500 checks.

“Once the federal government potentially sends out checks and there are other sources, it will be better, but for the next few weeks, this might fill an important need,” said Johnson, who is on the Manitou Springs Community Foundation committee.

The first distribution of checks from the local pot will be mailed to about 60 qualifying applicants on Wednesday, she said.

Residents as well as people who work at Manitou Springs businesses that have been affected by coronavirus restrictions and shut downs, who earn minimum wage or less, can apply at manitouspringscommunityfoundation.org.

“We are a town that relies on a lot of service-industry employees, and we also have a lot of artists and musicians, who tend to live in a non-traditional way and are having orders from retailers and galleries and gigs canceled,” Johnson said. “It’s for any folks who have had their income source dry up.”

The fund is ongoing and fluid, with parameters possibly changing in upcoming days, she added. To donate go to https://www.ppcf.org/donate and click on Manitou Springs.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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