Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from March 25, 2020

Posted at 6:44 AM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 11:42:21-04

NOTE: This live blog is from Wednesday, March 25. Click here for live updates from Thursday, March 26.

Wednesday marks the first full day Denverites will be under the city's stay-at-home order, which officially went into effect Tuesday at 5 p.m. as the novel coronavirus, also called COVID-19, continues to spread.

The Tri-County Health Department, which is the health department that covers Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas Counties, announced the same type of order on Wednesday morning to go into effect on Thursday, an announcement that was later reverberated by multiple counties across the state. By Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Jared Polis ordered the whole state be under a stay-at-home order.

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 | Volunteer and donation opportunities

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:

Wednesday, March 25

9:48 p.m. | Senate passes stimulus package in response to COVID-19

The Senate has passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that will give many Americans a $1,200 check. The bill now goes to the House for a vote before it is sent to President Trump, who said he will sign the bill.

Statement from Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.:

“The public health and economic crisis we face is unlike any in living memory, and it demands extraordinary action to protect millions of Americans at risk of losing their jobs, incomes, and businesses through no fault of their own. Today’s bipartisan agreement is a major step toward addressing the unprecedented scope of this crisis and the need for urgent action to support American workers and families. The extra time taken to get this right resulted in a much better final product.

“The bipartisan agreement features provisions that we fought hard to secure, including a significantly larger commitment to our frontline health care workers and hospitals, historic expansions of unemployment benefits to support our workers, increased support for small businesses, direct assistance to the most vulnerable Americans, and much stronger transparency and accountability.

“Today’s agreement, however, is not the end of our responsibility. In the weeks ahead, we must continue working to support families, keep small businesses afloat, and ensure that our health care workers have everything they need to overcome this pandemic, as we most surely will.

“I am grateful to everyone who set aside politics and rose to our nation’s moment of need.”

Statement from Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.:

“Coloradans and the American people need our help now more than ever and this bill delivers that relief,”said Senator Gardner. “My office and I have been in constant conversation with Governor Polis, Colorado’s medical professionals, families, small business owners, and workers across every industry. The CARES Act provides approximately $2 trillion in direct economic relief and support for our frontline healthcare providers, assistance to help ensure businesses can afford to keep employees on staff and assurances that we will get through this together. The longer Congress waits to act, more Americans will suffer. Now that the Senate has approved the CARES Act, the House must do the same. No excuses, no delays – the American people need relief now.”

8:24 p.m. | Police departments across Colorado: Stop calling dispatch about governor's stay-at-home order

The Westminster Police and Fire departments say they've been inundated with calls from residents following Gov. Polis' stay-at-home order, asking general questions about how the order impacts them. The Teller County Sheriff's Office, the Rocky Mountain Fire Department and the Wellington Fire Protection District all say they've received an overwhelming number of calls as well.

If you have questions about the state's order, we have all the resources you need here.

6:25 p.m. | Mesa Verde National Park closes to the public until further notice

Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado is now closed to all visitors to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state. This marks the second national park closure in the state of Colorado, after Rocky Mountain National Park closed its gates on March 20.

4:30 p.m. | Gov. Jared Polis issues statewide stay-at-home order

Gov. Jared Polis has issued a statewide stay-at-home order beginning tomorrow, Thursday, March 25 at 6 a.m. and going through Saturday, April 11, 2020.

"Now is the time to stay at home," Polis says, adding that "the patriotism of those who take this seriously will save countless lives."

The governor is ordering that residents only interact with those in their own household and only leave their homes when they absolutely need to. Critical businesses are exempt from this executive order but they must comply with the strict social distancing requirements set forth by the CDPHE and the CDC.

Watch the full news conference below:

Gov. Jared Polis issues statewide stay-at-home order in Colorado

4:02 p.m. | Two South Metro Firefighters test positive for coronavirus

Two firefighters with South Metro Fire Rescue have tested positive for COVID-19. The two firefighters are currently self-isolating and managing their symptoms at home and recovering, according to a spokesperson. The agency has already notified other SMFR crews and they've been asked to self-isolate for 14 days, per the CDC's recommendation.

"Currently, there are a total of 12 SMFR firefighters who are self-isolating to monitor for symptoms as a result of possible exposures throughout South Metro Fire Rescue’s District," the spokesperson said.

4 p.m. | CDPHE: Positive cases of COVID-19 surpass 1,000 in Colorado

The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus in Colorado has surpassed 1,000, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment announced Wednesday afternoon.

A total of 63 more people were hospitalized, bringing the total of hospitalizations to 147. The new virus is also now present in 36 counties of Colorado's 64 counties. The CDPHE said 363 more tests had been received by the state, bringing the total number of people who have been tested for COVID-19 too 8,064. State health officials said 19 people have now died from the disease, an increase of 8 people from Tuesday.

3:57 p.m. | North, West Denver elected officials to host tele-town hall

Elected officials from North and West Denver will host a tele-town hall to find a way to help residents who are 65 and over as well as those who are unable to leave their homes due to immune-compromised health status or disability, by connecting them with much-needed resources. The tele-town hall will take place Thursday, March 26 at 4 p.m.

3:31 p.m. | Weld County approves financial relief for delinquent property tax payments

The Weld County Board of Commissioners has passed a resolution to reduce interest charged on delinquent property taxes. The reduction is in effect for both businesses and residents until October 31, 2020.

In a letter sent to the Board by Weld County Treasurer John Lefebvre, Lefebvre explained that he will partially waive the 12% per year interest for delinquent payments, and instead only charge approximately 1% per year on delinquent property tax payments, if those payments and interest due are paid in full through October 31, 2020, according to news release from Weld County officials.

3:18 p.m. | Larimer County stay-at-home order goes into effect Thursday at 5 p.m.

Larimer County issued its stay-at-home order Wednesday afternoon. It will go into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday through April 17. Most of the same guidance from other counties applies to Larimer County’s order as well.

“While some will call this directive, "shelter-in-place," it is far from the shelter-in-place of acute emergencies, like for active shootings or tornadoes. The purpose of such an order is to enforce physical distancing between people to slow and stop the spread of the virus. There is nothing inherently dangerous about going outside but rather in being close to other people who are ill, whether they know it or not,” the county health department said in a statement.

Read the full Larimer County order here.

3:08 p.m. | Viewhouse to donate 200 meals a day across Colorado

Viewhouse eatery is launching a donation program in Denver, Centennial, Littleton and Colorado Springs daily until April 30 to support mission-essential organizations affected by COVID-19.

3:06 p.m. | UFCW announces pay increase, benefits to workers during COVID-19 outbreak

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) has announced it will increase the pay and benefits for more than 2,4000 Colorado workers with JBS USA in Greeley who work in meatpacking and food processing jobs. Here's who will benefit:

-- Cargill: Employees will receive a $2 per hour pay increase in effect between March 23 and May 5. Cargill will also strengthen worker safeguards with increased spacing in factory floor work areas, waive co-pays for coronavirus testing and treatment, and the ability to take time off for any coronavirus-related absences.
-- Danone North America: Employees will receive a 15 percent pay increase and 80 hours of additional paid leave for coronavirus-related absences.
-- Kraft Heinz: Employees who are required to quarantine will receive short-term disability benefits with waived waiting periods, waiver of co-pays for coronavirus medical care, and $100 weekly childcare subsidy for workers in districts where schools have closed.
-- Pepsi: Employees will receive an additional 2 weeks paid leave for coronavirus-related absences and childcare assistance equal to at least two-thirds of their pay for up to 12 weeks or a $100 daily reimbursement if they have children enrolled in closed schools.
-- Hormel: Employees are receiving a $300 bonus for working during this time frame.
-- JBS: Employees who are UFCW members will receive a $600 bonus on May 15th.
-- Maple Leaf Foods: Employees will receive additional $80 per week in premium pay.
-- Campbell’s Soup: Employees will receive a $2 per hour pay increase during the outbreak.
-- National Beef: Employees are receiving a $2 per hour pay increase between March 16 through May 10, 2 weeks paid leave if they are required to quarantine,waiver of co-pays for coronavirus medical care, and the ability to take time off for any coronavirus-related absences.

2:55 p.m .| PPE collection drive in Lakewood happening Saturday

A donation drive for unopened and unused personal protective equipment is being held Saturday at the West Metro Chamber of Commerce, 1667 Cole Boulevard #400, in Lakewood, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donators are asked to have supplies in the trunk or back of their vehicle, so workers can remove the supplies without contact.

Organizers, which include Jefferson County officials, St. Anthony Hospital, and SCL Health Lutheran, are asking for the following:

Sterile and non-sterile gloves, hand sanitizer, bleach bottles or sprays, bleach wipes/sanitizer wipes, isopropyl alcohol eye protection and goggles, clear face shields, surgical/procedural masks, respirator masks (N95, N99, P100, PAPR respirators (3M or MaxAir), disposable gowns, shoe covers, biohazard bags.

2:45 p.m. | Update from Douglas County on lawmakers’ letter

Douglas County reaffirmed the Tri-County Health Department order and reasserted that it was a stay-at-home order and not a "shelter in place" order, as the lawmakers claimed.

“It will not surprise you to hear that our Board’s focus today is primarily on 1) the stay-at-home order helping our community and our business community have clarity (see attached); and 2) our Douglas County initiatives focused on Human Needs and Economic Recovery. Perhaps one reason the delegation is alarmed is that they refer to this as a “shelter in place” order. It is not a “shelter in place” order. There is a big difference. Attached is our understanding of what Tri-County Health Stay at Home order says,” said Wendy Holmes, a spokesperson for the county and county board of commissioners, in a statement.

2:15 p.m. | Polis press conference at 4 p.m.

Gov. Jared Polis is holding a news conference at 4 p.m. at the state emergency operations center in Centennial. Denver7 will carry the presser live on our website, social media, streaming apps and over the air.

2 p.m. | DougCo GOP lawmakers call for county to end relationship with Tri-County Health over stay-at-home order

Six Republican state lawmakers from Douglas County – including the House and Senate minority leaders and a senator who has COVID-19 and is quarantined at his second home in California – called for county commissioners to terminate the county’s relationship with the Tri-County Health Department after it issued a stay-at-home order Wednesday morning.

The lawmakers said they felt the order was "heavy-handed" and should not have come from the health department, though it has the authority to issue such an order.

Dr. John M. Douglas, Jr., the executive director of Tri-County Health, said in a briefing that the move was necessary after Denver’s and Boulder’s stay-at-home orders went into effect Wednesday and so the metro area can work to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak so it doesn’t overstress the metro-area’s hospital systems. He said he believes a statewide order should be issued, but Gov. Jared Polis has so far resisted doing so.

Tri-County Health said in a statement they were consulting with commissioners and the board of health, both of whom Denver7 has contacted for a response as well.

“At this point, we would have no response to the letter until we hear from the Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Health,” Tri-County said in a statement.

1 p.m. | Polis gives guidance to local law enforcement, detention centers

Gov. Jared Polis issued guidance to municipalities, counties, local law enforcement agencies and detention centers Wednesday morning outlining what they can and should do to limit the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities.

Law enforcement is encouraged to issue warnings or summonses instead of arresting people when safe to do so and unless it’s prohibited by state law. They’re also encouraged to prioritize serious and violent offenders when considering arrests.

It also encourages social distancing and the use of PPE if contacting a person who is visibly ill or has COVID-19 symptoms.

As for detention centers, social distancing will have to be taken into consideration and inmates will be spaced out under the governor’s guidance. Centers are also asked to ensure there are regular disinfection times and limits to group gatherings.

Click here to read the full guidance.

12:45 p.m. | Gunnison County has the highest cases of COVID-19 per capita in Colorado

Gunnison County in Colorado’s Western Slope has the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita, the county announced Wednesday. The county, with a population a little over 17,000, continues to see critical patients at its only hospital, which is currently is treating six patients, one of whom is in critical condition and was sent to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, county officials said.

11:30 a.m. | Lafayette ER closing to centralize at Foothills Hospital

Boulder Community Health officials are centralizing the network's emergency departments at Foothills Hospital in Boulder. As a result, the emergency department at Community Medical Center in Lafayette is shutting down for up to 90 days.

"As part of our response planning, we've determined that it is prudent to centralize our emergency medicine resources at our busiest location, Foothills Hospital, which is seeing and would continue to see the majority of people experiencing respiratory illnesses, both flu and COVID-19," the hospital said in a news release.

The emergency departments at Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville and Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayatte will remain open.

11:20 a.m. | Two new cases in NE Colorado

Two new coronavirus cases have been identified in northeast Colorado — one in Washington County, the first COVID-19 case there, and the other in Yuma County, the second case there.

There's now a total of eight cases under the Northeast Colorado Health Department region: Washington County (1), Yuma County (2), Morgan County (3) and Logan County (2). Several test results are pending, according to the department.

10:45 a.m. | Broomfield issues stay-at-home order

Broomfield issued a stay-at-home order Wednesday morning, adding to the list of cities and counties under similar measures across the Front Range. Tri-County Health Department — which covers Douglas, Arapahoe and Adams counties — Boulder and Jefferson counties also issued stay-at-home orders on Wednesday. Denver announced a stay-at-home order Monday.

Read Broomfield's full stay-at-home order

The Broomfield order calls on residents to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing if they do leave. Playgrounds and parks that have shared equipment will be closed but open space and bike trails will remain open.

Broomfield said it's deploying a team of 25 employees to encourage compliance in the city.

10:15 a.m. | Tri-County Health Department officially announces stay-at-home order

Tri-County Health officials on Wednesday morning officially announced a stay-at-home order for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, beginning 8 a.m. Thursday and running through April 17. The order calls on residents to stay inside their homes, except for essential activities, such as work at an essential business, purchasing supplies to work from home, getting medical care, buying groceries and going to the bank.

Read the health department's full stay-at-home order.

Dr. John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County Health, said the goal is to slow the spread of coronavirus to help hospitals handle the surge of COVID-19 patients.

"It's not shelter in place, it's not lockdown," Douglas said. "It's stay at home."

Tri-County officials emphasized the need for continued social distancing. Dr. Bernadette Albanese, the medical epidemiologist for the health department, described the issue as an iceberg. High-risk patients who are hospitalized are the tip of the iceberge, Albanese said, but the bottom of the iceberg — the patients who might not be considered high-risk — is pushing up, with more severe cases and more hospitalizations, causing a strain on hospitals and health care providers.

Douglas said Colorado is likely weeks away from losing hospital capacity, if action isn't taken to curb the spread of coronavirus.

"Do we lose time with each day we fail to act? I think we do," Douglas said. "And that's why we're acting today."

9:05 a.m. | Boulder County, Jefferson County Public Health Departments to issue stay-at-home orders

Boulder County Public Health, Jefferson County Public Health and the Tri-County Health Department will issue a stay-at-home order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 today. It will go into effect on Thursday at 8 a.m. and last through April 11 at 11:59 p.m.

Read the full stay-at-home order for Boulder County

5 a.m. | Tri-County Public Health preparing "stay at home" order expected to be announced today

The Tri-County Health Department — which covers Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas Counties — is reportedly drafting the final details of a stay-at-home order. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman published a tweet Tuesday, saying the order will be similar but not identical to Denver's. The Tri-County Health Department serves 1.5 million people. TCHD is holding a remote press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday with more information. Coffman said he's expecting the order to be issued Wednesday and put into effect Thursday.

5 a.m. | PPE drive in Larimer County

Today, Larimer County will hold a drive for personal protective equipment (PPE) from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. All PPE must be unused and unopened. This includes items such as:
- Sterile and non-sterile gloves
- Hand sanitizer
- Bleach bottles or sprays
- Bleach wipes
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Eye protection and goggles
- Clear face shields
- Masks
- Respirator masks
- PAPR respirators
- Disposable gowns
- Shoe covers
- Biohazard bags

County officials are asking the public not to bring used PPE, clothing that's new or used, food or water.

Below are the drop-off locations:
- Berthoud Fire Protection District Station 1, 275 Mountain Avenue, Berthoud
- City of Fort Collins Police Department, 2221 S Timberline Rd, Fort Collins
- Crystal Lakes VFD, 237 Blackfoot Drive, Red Feather Lakes
- Estes Park Daniels Fire Station, 901 N Saint Vrain Ave, Estes Park
- Glacier View Fire Protection District, 1414 Green Mountain Drive, Livermore
- Glen Haven Area Volunteer Department, 7380 Co Rd 43, Glen Haven,
- Loveland Fire Rescue Authority Station 6, 4325 McWhinney Boulevard, Loveland
- Pinewood Springs Fire Protection District, 61 Kiowa Rd. Lyons
- Poudre Canyon VFD Station 2, 33689 W Highway 14, Bellvue
- Poudre Canyon VFD Station 1, 10230 W Highway 14, Bellvue
- Poudre Fire Authority Station 8, 4800 Signal Tree Dr, Fort Collins
- Red Feather Lakes VFD, 44 Fire House Ln, Red Feather Lakes
- Thompson Valley EMS, 2750 N Taft Avenue, Loveland
- Thompson Valley EMS, 4480 Clydesdale Parkway, Loveland
- Wellington Fire Direction, 8130 3rd Street, Wellington
- Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Station 1, 100 N 7th Steet, Windsor
- Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Station 2. Timber Ridge, Severance
- Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Station 3, 7790 Rea Parkway, Windsor

12:01 a.m. | Loveland Ski Area closes uphill skiing

Uphill access at Loveland Ski Area is now prohibited. This move by the ski area and U.S. Forest Service came just days after dozens of vehicles lined the parking lot at the ski area and along U.S. 6 up Loveland Pass.

Click here for updates from March 24.