NOTE: This is the live blog from Wednesday, April 15. Click here for the live blog for Thursday, April 16, 2020.
Colorado public health officials said Tuesday that they are continuing to see the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases slowing down, mainly thanks to the social distancing measures the public has taken.
They said the next couple weeks will help them determine what steps should be taken next as they continue to work toward lifting the stay-at-home order.
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.
Wednesday, April 15
Colorado today released data on the outbreaks at non-hospital and residential health care facilities, as well as from factories and jails seeing outbreaks. We have the full list in the story below, which also shows how many residents have died at each facility.
As of Wednesday, the data showed 528 residents tested positive for the virus; 116 were probable for the virus; 138 residents had died who had tested positive for the virus; and another 39 residents who died were probable for the virus.
It also showed 466 staffers at the facilities have tested positive; 168 staffers are probable with the virus. The data also includes the five people who have died at meatpacking plants in Colorado.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday outlined what is likely in store for Coloradans in the weeks and months ahead once some social distancing measures can start being lifted and some businesses reopened – saying it is unlikely people will be able to return to what they considered “normal” just weeks ago anytime in the near future.
“Coronavirus is going to be a part of our lives. We’re going to have to learn how to live with it,” Polis said, adding that Colorado and its residents will have to find a way to find a “sustainable” way to get back to work, to socializing and to caring for themselves and one another until a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 can be developed and implemented on a wide scale.
He said the next few days of data would be “critical” to the plan he and other state officials are putting together on when, and how, the stay-at-home order and other social distancing measures can start being gradually lifted.
4:59 p.m. | Colorado Springs encourages residents to comply with temporary closure of Manitou Incline
The City of Colorado Springs is encouraging residents to comply with the temporary closure of the Manitou Incline as there have been "enforcement issues" with the City of Manitou's decision to close the Manitou Incline.
"While the City of Colorado Springs manages the Incline, the bottom portion of the Incline is within the jurisdiction of the City of Manitou and subject to any emergency orders it may issue. Manitou has made a decision to enact an emergency closure of the Incline within its city limits. They have the legal authority to do so, and the City of Colorado Springs encourages all residents to comply with Manitou’s temporary emergency order," officials said in a statement.
4:57 p.m. | Two inmates test positive for COVID-19 at Sterling Correctional Facility
Two inmates have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the Sterling Correctional Facility (SCF), the Colorado Department of Corrections said in a statement.
The inmates were housed in the same cell and have been - and will continue to be - screened and quarantined, officials said. The CDOC and the CDPHE are conducting detailed contact tracing to find out whose had close contact with the inmates.
"Staff who are found to have close contact with the COVID-19 positive inmates will be placed on leave, and inmates who are found to have come in close contact with the COVID-19 positive inmates will be screened twice daily including having their temperature taken, and quarantined," officials said.
Effective immediately, SCF will move to a Phase III modified operations. These modifications will mean that all meals and medications will be delivered to living units, and inmates will remain in their cells during the quarantine period. The inmates will have access to their normal personal property during the quarantine period.
4:30 p.m. | Aurora to furlough 576 employees
The city of Aurora is furloughing 576 temporary, contingent and seasonal employees beginning April 25. The city did not set an end date on the furloughs but said none of the city's regular full-time or part-time employees.
City officials said a $20-25 million shortfall, or about 6% of the city budget, is expected in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our employees are at the core of our mission to serve our residents, and it was a very difficult decision to have to resort to any measures that directly impact them,” Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said in a news release. “We proceeded with furloughs when our budget forecasts made it clear we had no other choice, and our hope is that the enhanced unemployment benefits announced under the CARES Act will provide them with financial stability until we can make further decisions about restoring our city services and bringing employees back to work. My heart goes out to all of our employees affected by this.”
4 p.m. | Latest COVID-19 numbers released.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released the latest COVID-19 data for the state. Here are the numbers, with the change from Tuesday in parentheses:
8,280 cases (+339)
1,636 hospitalized (+80)
56 counties (+0)
40,533 people tested (+953)
357 deaths (+28)
83 outbreaks (+5)
3:50 p.m. | Arapahoe County Fairgrounds converted to temporary care facility
The Arapahoe County Fairgrounds have been converted to a temporary care facility for COVID-19 patients who don't need actue or critical care. The site has enough space for 54 patients, with expansion up to 150 possible, if needed.
3:15 p.m. | A look inside the Colorado Convention Center
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Wednesday posted pictures from inside the Colorado Convention Center, where construction is underway on an alternative care facility. Up to 2,000 beds will be available, if needed, and the facility is expected to be ready by April 27, Hancock said.
Construction at the Colorado Convention Center has begun. It's expected to be complete on April 27th and will be ready to serve as alternative care facility so that hospitals can more quickly open up critical bed space IF we see a surge in critical COVID-19 cases in Colorado. pic.twitter.com/hgC1ePZKOp
— Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) April 15, 2020
3 p.m. | Brighton police chief released from hospital
Brighton Police Chief Paul Southard was released from the hospital Wednesday after battling COVID-19 for three weeks.
After three difficult weeks of fighting COVID-19, we are thrilled to announce that Police Chief Southard has been released from the hospital today. Much appreciation to Platte Valley Medical Center for taking such good care of our Chief! pic.twitter.com/Kay9BS8bYA
— Brighton PD (@BrightonPolice) April 15, 2020
2:40 p.m. |Polis outlines steps toward re-opening state
Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday laid out the steps toward re-opening the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the immediate focus on continued social distancing and increasing the ability for testing in Colorado.
"We know that staying at home all the time is not sustainable over time," Polis said. "It's not possible economically. It's not possibly psychologically."
But Polis emphasized that relaxing social restrictions is not "like turning a light switch on and off," but "more like a dimmer."
Polis said state officials hope to see a decline in COVID-19 cases in Colorado within the next five days, as the full impact of the stay-at-home order is seen. Polis said Colorado remains in the "urgent phase" of its response to the coronavirus.
The next step would be a "stabilization phase," Polis said, keeping the spread of the virus contained through more testing, contact tracing and quarantine and isolation, where needed. A key part moving forward will be identifying social distancing practices that are sustainable and allow economic growth, Polis said.
Polis mentioned increasing telecommuting, or working from home, where possible, and staggering work shifts as a possibility.
1:45 p.m. | Gardner: Colorado getting "tens of thousands" of test kits from South Korea
Sen. Cory Gardner on Wednesday tweeted that Colorado will receive "tens of thousands" of COVID-19 test kits from South Korea. Gardner said he worked with Gov. Jared Polis to secure the kits, and he retweeted a post that said the kits were loaded up and heading to the U.S.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) April 15, 2020
10:35 a.m. | CDPHE calls for more telehealth workers
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the state “urgently” needs medical professionals and administrators to donate time to providing free telehealth services to Coloradans.
The department says the work will all be done from home, primarily over the telephone or video calls.
People who are eligible and interested can click here to sign up and find out more.
10:32 a.m. | DIA traffic continues to be down
Passenger traffic at Denver International Airport was down 95% April 5-11 compared to the same week last year. That is in line with the traffic reduction seen the week prior of 94%.
The airport is continuing maintenance work this week on the train and Great Hall projects and has closed valet services and the bag check at the Pikes Peak Shuttle lot.
10:28 a.m. | More STRIDE testing today
STRIDE Community Health is offering drive-through testing today at its Wheat Ridge (7495 W. 29th Ave.) and Aurora (10680 Del Mar Parkway) locations today on a first come, first served basis.
People need to have COVID-19 symptoms to be tested and screenings will be done. Testing will be provided until the facilities run out of materials, STRIDE said.
The facilities will be open from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
10:10 a.m. | Rep. Crow hosting kids town hall at 3 p.m.
Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., is hosting a kids town hall to talk with children about the coronavirus and the government. Kids and parents can sign up for the Zoom town hall meeting by clicking here.
9:50 a.m. | Jeffco Sheriff offering rapid COVID-19 test to employees
The Jefferson County Sheriff's office is now offering COVID-19 testing for employees. The test is a rapid blood test that shows within minutes if the person is positive or previously infected.
This week the JCSO began offering Covid-19 testing for employees. Those facilitating testing wear full PPE & are tested themselves first. The rapid blood test shows within minutes if the person is positive or previously infected. If positive there's follow-up #doingmypartco pic.twitter.com/X2BMDkGUWz
— Jeffco Sheriff (@jeffcosheriffco) April 15, 2020
9:30 a.m. | Polis update at 2 p.m.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is expected to give an update on the state’s COVID-19 response at 2 p.m. at the governor’s mansion. We will carry it live.
8:56 a.m. | Millions may not receive Economic Impact Payments
The deadline to file your taxes may have been extended, but filing sooner than later can help you receive a stimulus check more quickly. A research associate at the Tax Payers Center said as many as 10 million people may miss out on receiving Economic Impact Payments (aka, the stimulus funds) because they're not in the tax system.
In-person filings are limited due to the coronavirus, but there are free, online options available on the Get Ahead Colorado website here.
5 a.m. | Stimulus checks arrive today for millions
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that 80 million Americans will receive stimulus checks via direct deposit by today. The Treasury Department said on Saturday that it had sent out the first batch of payments. On Monday, some Americans said they had the deposit available in their bank account. You can track your stimulus check on the IRS's website here.
5 a.m. | Happening today: Town hall with the secretary of state
Secretary of State Gena Griswold will host a virtual town hall today at 11 a.m. to discuss engagement in elections and the impact of COVID-19 on the electoral process. To RSVP, click here.
Click here for the live blog from Tuesday, April 14, 2020.