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Coronavirus in Colorado: Updates from March 18-19, 2020

Posted: 1:07 AM, Mar 21, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-23 15:25:18-04
coronavirus updates

DENVER — Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Colorado, with the statewide total at 277 as of Thursday evening, including four deaths. And more closures have been announced, too, including executive action by Gov. Jared Polis this week shutting down all dining at restaurants and bars.

Below, we're updating this blog with the latest information regarding COVID-19 in Colorado.


Latest updates:

Click here for the most current updates beginning Friday, March 20.

Thursday, March 19

9:20 p.m. | CSU moves 'all operations online,' reschedules commencement ceremony to December

Joyce McConnell, the president of Colorado State University, says the university will move all operations at the campus online. Last week, the university announced it was moving all courses at the university online for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester.

The CSU May Commencement ceremonies will also be rescheduled to December 18-20, 2020.

9:18 p.m. | Jeffco Schools cancels "Grab and Go" food service Friday

Jeffco Schools will cancel its "Grab and Go" meals Friday due to inclement weather. Services will resume Monday, March 23. Click here for a list of locations offering meals for kids and families during the CoVID-19 outbreak in Colorado.

7:22 p.m. | UCHealth suspends COVID-19 testing at drive-through sites in Colorado Springs

UCHealth said that because of limited availability of testing supplies, it was suspending its COVID-19 community testing at the drive-through site at South Parkside Drive and kidsKare Point in Colorado Springs.

7:20 p.m. | Denver Public Libraries closed until further notice

All Denver Public Library locations are now closed until further notice, officials said in a news release. This extends the closure from last week, when city officials said the closure would only last for 2 weeks. You are asked to hold onto materials you have borrowed from the library until all locations open for business.

7:14 p.m. | Summit County closes all hotels, lodging businesses

All hotels and other lodging businesses in Summit County are now closed as a public health measure in the county's response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

6:39 p.m. | 6 positive COVID-19 cases identified at El Paso County long-term care facility

Six positive cases of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, were identified Thursday evening at the Laurel Manor Care Center in El Paso County, county health officials said in a news release.

County health officials say they're working with the ill patients to make sure they're receiving proper care while limiting the further spread of the disease. Efforts on identifying, isolating and testing all of those who may at risk of contracting COVID-19 are being taken.

Officials reiterated practicing social distancing and good hygiene to further mitigate the spread of the new virus.

6:03 p.m. | Routt County launches COVID-19 Help Line

Routt County residents will have access to a COVID-19 Help line which will provide information about the novel coronavirus and resources available for county residents. The Routt County COVID-19 Help Line can be reached at 970-871-8444 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. The help line will not be able to provide referrals for testing.

5:37 p.m. | Berthoud brewery launches online ordering

City Star Brewing in Berthoud has launched online order and craft beer crowlers in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

5:18 p.m. | Feds approve Colorado small business disaster loan program ask; Denver announces initial biz relief

The state of Colorado and city of Denver have announced initial economic relief packages to try to help businesses and workers affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The Small Business Administration has granted disaster relief for small business loans in Colorado under the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which will allow small businesses, nonprofits, agricultural cooperatives and aquaculture enterprises affected by the virus outbreak to seek up to $2 million in low-interest federal loans to pay for debts, payroll and accounts payable. More information on eligibility, applications for loans and other resources are available at ChooseColorado.com.

In Denver, the city's Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) will have a program to give qualifying businesses cash grants of up to $7,500 – with prioritization given to the most-impacted industries, like the restaurant industry. An already-existing microloan program will be refocused toward small business stabilization, and businesses that already receive loans from DEDO can temporarily defer loan payments if needed, the city said.

Additionally, grants of up to $1,000 will be available for individual artists living in Denver who are being affected through the IMAGINE 2020 Artist Assistance Fund by Denver Arts and Venues. Artists who are eligible for the grant money can use it for recouping losses, travel expenses, offsetting loss of income for teachers. Lower-income artists or those who have no other source of income will be prioritized, the city said.

5:02 p.m. | CDPHE: If you think you may have COVID-19, self-isolate

The state's health department is urging self-isolation for people who've tested positive for COVID-19, who have symptoms of COVID-19 (coughing, fever and/or shortness of breath), and for people who are getting sick and who think they may have COVID-19. They also advise anyone who has come into close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, or even someone who's showed early symptoms of the disease, to self-quarantine to prevent the further spread of the illness.

"Isolation and quarantine, even without test results, is what people must do to slow the spread of this illness in our state," said CDPHE's state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. "Even people who feel mild illness, and aren’t sure, should follow self-isolation orders, and their contacts should follow self-quarantine orders.”

The CDPHE says self-isolation is for people who have symptoms of COVID-19. Self-isolating means staying away from others until 7 days have passed since the symptoms began and until any fever has been gone for 72 hours and all other symptoms are improving.

State health officials say self-quarantine is for people who don’t have symptoms but are close contacts of people who have symptoms. Self-quarantining means staying away from others for 14 days to see if one becomes ill. People who become ill with COVID-19 symptoms (even early symptoms) while self-quarantining then start the self-isolation period.

The state health department has put together how-to's for people who are self-isolating and self-quarantining. You can view those here.

4:43 p.m. | Eagle County Transit modifies schedule

Eagle County's ECO Transit system is reducing bus service countywide beginning Friday, March 20. The updated timetables for the 6/Highway 6 route and the 4/Valley route are available here.

4:41 p.m. | Colorado sets enrollment period for the uninsured for COVID-19 testing, CDPHE closes nail salons, other "nonessential" personal services

People in Colorado who do not have health insurance will be allowed to enroll in individual health insurance plans (meaning plans NOT from an employer) from March 20 through April 3, 2020, according to the Division of Insurance and Connect for Health Colorado. Coverage will be effective starting on April 1, regardless of when someone enrolls during that window. Only people who are currently uninsured are eligible to enroll, as this is not a period for people with coverage to change plans. Uninsured spouses and children will also be allowed to enroll at this time, even if one spouse or a child’s parent may already be insured.

Also on Thursday, the CDPHE expanded its public health order closing bars, restaurants, theaters, gyms and casinos until April 30, to include nonessential personal services facilities, horse track and off-track betting facilities statewide. Nonessential personal services include hair or nail salons, spas, or tattoo or massage parlors. Click here to read the updated public health order.

And Gov. Polis signed an executive order today temporarily suspending elective and non-essential surgeries and procedures to preserve important medical equipment, like personal protective equipment and ventilators, needed to combat COVID-19. The order is effective March 23 through April 14, with the exception of rural and critical access hospitals. This includes all voluntary or elective surgeries or procedures, whether medical, dental, or veterinary. A voluntary or elective surgery or procedure means the surgery can be delayed without risk to the current or future health of the patient, according to a news release.

4:36 p.m. | UCHealth asking for blood donations

UCHealth is urging healthy people to donate blood as the COVID-19 outbreak has caused local blood donations to drop. If you'd like to donate blood, please call ahead of time to ensure the center is accepting donations.

4:32 p.m. | The Broadmoor to temporarily cease all operations

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs will temporarily cease all operations starting Saturday, March 21 at noon through Memorial Day weekend out of an abundance of caution and for the safety of everyone as the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, spreads through the state.

4:19 p.m. | University of Northern Colorado cancels in-person meetings for spring semester

The University of Northern Colorado has canceled all in-person meetings for the rest of the 2020 spring semester to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Faculty, students and staff are encouraged t hold all activities online.

4:10 p.m. | FDA, USDA: Food supply safe and abundant amid COVID-19 pandemic

Officials with both the Federal Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture say food production and supply systems nationwide remain safe and abundant amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

"Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19, and no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods," officials said in a statement.

In a news release, officials said Colorado has created a Food Security Task Force to work closely with Colorado’s agriculture producers and food companies across the supply chain to support their needs during the COVID-19 emergency.

4:08 p.m. | Updated Colorado COVID-19 numbers

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment just updated the numbers on its COVID-19 site, though it does not include the two deaths reported in El Paso and Crowley counties Thursday.

According to the CDPHE, as of 4 p.m., the data is as stands:

277 cases
38 hospitalized
22 counties
2,952 test results received

Eagle (51) and Denver (49) counties are seeing the highest number of cases, those testing has been prioritized in those areas. Jefferson County has 36 cases and Arapahoe County has 22 cases, according to the state.

The increased numbers in comparison to the numbers released Wednesday: 61 new cases; 12 new hospitalizations; 2 new counties; 614 more test results back.

3:25 p.m. | Fourth coronavirus death in Colorado

Health officials in southeastern Colorado confirmed the state's fourth coronavirus death on Thursday. The patient was an elderly resident from Crowley County, according to the Otero County Health Department. The patient also had multiple chronic medical conditions, officials said.

2:55 p.m. | Hancock: Shelter-in-place not being considered yet

When asked if Denver was considering a shelter-in-place or similar lockdown measure for residents, Mayor Michael Hancock said he wasn't, at this time. He said he'd prefer the decision be made as a region or state.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense for me to do that in the city of Denver," Hancock said. "We would prefer to have that happen as a region, at the very least as a region, but also as a state ... Right now, it’s not something that’s immediately being considered by the city of Denver."

2:42 p.m. | King Soopers offering senior shopping hours

King Soopers will begin offering special shopping hours for senior citizens this Friday, March 20. Hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 to 8 a.m.

2:30 p.m. | City opens warming shelter

Denver officials said a new day-use warming shelter is now open at La Alma Recreation Center (1325 W. 11th Ave.). Hours today are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

2:25 p.m. | City suspending parking rules

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is suspending enforcement of parking meters, residential parking areas, large vehicle parking, school bus loading zones, and booting of vehicles.

1:30 p.m. | U.S. State Department: Do not travel

The U.S. State Department has issued an advisory for U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the coronavirus.

1:15 p.m. | JeffCo releasing more inmates early to reduce spread of virus

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said starting today, eligible inmates who have served at least 50% of their sentence and meet early release program requirements will be released early. This will continue daily until the risk of COVID-19 spread is mitigated, the sheriff's office said. Reducing the population in the jail reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the sheriff's office said. No inmates or jail employees have tested positive.

12:55 p.m. | Nuggets organization member tests positive for COVID-19

The Denver Nuggets say that a member of the organization tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday. They were tested on March 16 and are currently under medical staff care and in self-isolation.

“The testing was undertaken following guidance from state public health officials and team physicians. The health and safety of our players, our organization, those throughout our league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation is paramount,” the Nuggets said in a statement. “The Nuggets will continue to work in coordination with team physicians, public health officials and infectious disease experts, while focusing on the health and safety of everyone in our community.”

12:39 p.m. | Tri-County Health town hall postponed

Northglenn says tonight's Tri-County Health telephone town hall that was scheduled for 7 p.m. had been postponed because of weather.

11:55 p.m. | Kind donation to Santiago's workers

Some news to make you smile: A customer visited the Santiago's on E. Hampden Avenue and left an envelope with five $100 bills along with a note that read, "Please share this with everyone who works at this location. Thank you for all you do for us in this community. God bless." The CEO of Santiago's Mexican restaurants, Carmen M. Morales, said she wants to thank the donor from the bottom of their hearts.

Nice donation at Santiago's during COVID-19

11:15 a.m. | Third person in Colorado dies of COVID-19

A second person in El Paso County has died of the novel coronavirus, according to the county’s deputy medical director. The man was in his mid-60s and had had direct contact with the first person who died in the county, who was a woman in her 80s. Read more here. This brings the total death count in Colorado to three. The third death occurred in Weld County.

11 a.m. | Colorado lawmaker tests positive for coronavirus

UPDATE March 23, 1:23 p.m.: Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet says a physician "misinterpreted" her results and she was actually positive for a different coronavirus, NL63. She remains in self-isolation and her family has been in self-quarantine since she started experiencing symptoms.

“While I am still feeling very sick from this other coronavirus, I am relieved to know that I haven’t inadvertently exposed anyone at the Capitol or in my community to COVID-19,” said Rep. Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “When I first received the results indicating a positive test for COVID-19, I felt it was important to notify people who may have been exposed; so I feel it is important to share this update as well, to ease the concerns of people I had been in close contact with. We know this disease is spreading rapidly, and one rare testing mishap should not change the seriousness with which we all must confront this public health emergency. Everyone has to follow the advice of public health officials and social distance, stay at home, wash your hands and follow best practices for stopping the spread of the virus.”

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State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, has tested positive for COVID-19, Colorado House Democrats announced Thursday morning. Jenet was tested at UC Health after experiencing symptoms following a bronchitis diagnosis earlier this month. She said her doctors told her it was likely that she contracted coronavirus in recent days.

Jenet, the first Colorado lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19, was quarantined at her home Thursday and her children and husband were self-isolating.

"We will all get through this together, and I look forward to seeing my friends, colleagues and constituents when I’m better and no longer at risk of spreading the virus to others," Jenet said in a statement.

10:28 a.m. | DPS moves to remote learning starting April 7, 18th Judicial District vacates appearances through March

Denver Public Schools says there will be no in-person classes until at least Monday, April 20 following the governor’s executive order issued Wednesday that suspends in-person learning at all public and private schools from March 23 to April 17.

The district says it will move to remote learning starting April 7 through at least April 17 and working on support for families who need the technology to do so. Read more about the district’s plan here.

Additionally, the 18th Judicial District chief judge, which covers Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties, has vacated court appearances through April 3.

Defendants are being advised not to come to courts in the district unless it’s for an “essential reason.” Read more on the order by clicking here.

9:11 a.m. | Outlets at Castle Rock closed

The Outlets at Castle Rock are closing, with hopes to reopen on March 30. Qdoba and Starbucks in the outlets will remain open.

Wednesday, March 18

8:25 p.m. | Aurora issues State of Disaster declaration

The City of Aurora has declared a State of Disaster in response to COVID-19, which will increase the city's ability to respond to, and address the needs of the community during this public health emergency.

8:01 p.m. | City of Black Hawk waiving fees to alleviate economic issues due to COVID-19

The City of Black Hawk is waiving nearly $700 thousand in casino fees to help alleviate some of the economic pain amidst their closure during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a city official.

6:22 p.m. | Polis orders suspension of in-person learning in schools, CDC prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people

Hours after providing an update to the state's COVID-19 response, 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.

Also on Wednesday evening, the CDPHE 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.

5:34 p.m. | San Miguel County under shelter-in-place

Officials in San Miguel said they have issued a shelter in place for its residents, meaning they should "dramatically limit your exposure to the public." They said they recommend exercising alone and continue social distancing practices. Click here for details.

5:29 p.m. | ICE scaling back operations due to COVID-19

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is scaling back the aggressive operations it launched under President Donald Trump as the country contends with the new coronavirus outbreak.

ICE says that starting Wednesday it is focusing its efforts on tracking down people in the U.S. without legal authorization who pose a risk to public safety or would be subject to mandatory detention on criminal grounds. The agency had been aggressively detaining anyone in the country without authorization as part of stepped up enforcement under the Trump administration, including here in Denver where at least two arrests of Denver Public Schools parents happened this week.

5:17 p.m. | Ft. Collins dispensary voluntarily closing

Organic Alternatives in Fort Collins says it is voluntarily closing to the public "due to the lack of availability of testing for COVID-19 in our community."

5:02 p.m. | CDPHE will have temporary test site in Pueblo on Thursday

The CDPHE said it is expanding testing to include a temporary site in Pueblo on Thursday, March 19 in an effort to yield "vital information about how the disease is spreading." The department also said it also plans to send testing resources to other locations later this week. Those locations were not announced.

4:53 p.m. | Boulder adjusting parking management during COVID-19 outbreak

The City of Boulder says it is prioritizing safety violations in order to maintain access of fire lanes, fire hydrants, driveways, loading areas and lines of sight. Officials said they're also allowing people to park on paid parking for 20 mins. to pick up or drop off deliveries. Short-term parking in the city's downtown parking garages is currently free through March 29.

4:51 p.m. | Jeffco Schools will have double meals for families on Thursday due to wintry weather

Jeffco Schools says it will provide families who need food assistance double meals on Thursday, March 19, due to inclement weather that could force them to close their food service sites. We've compiled a list of pantry sites here.

4:51 p.m. | Montrose County opens Emergency Operations Center

Montrose County opened its emergency operations center to support the county’s response to the COVID-19 situation impacting the western slope and Montrose County.

4:31 p.m. | RTD ridership down 60% due to COVID-19

RTD officials estimate ridership on the city's public transportation system has dropped 60% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials said they were providing 139,000 trips each weekday, compared with 347,800 weekday trips one year ago.

Effective tomorrow, Thursday, March 19, RTD's Access-a-Ride paratransit service will suspend five-day advance bookings and allow customers to only book next-day trips. All standing orders from Friday, March 20, will be cancelled.

4:26 p.m. | Castle Rock to light The Star as symbol of hope during pandemic

The Town of Castle Rock will light the Start atop The Rock as a symbol of hope as the state continues to response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 40-foot star atop Castle Rock’s iconic Rock was originally constructed in 1936, during the Great Depression, as a symbol of hope that could be seen for miles around, according to city officials.

The Star will be lit in the coming days, possibly by next Monday, March 23. The community is being asked to avoid gathering for this event.

4:23 p.m. | Latest CDPHE update on COVID-19

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) reports there are now 216 positive cases of the novel coronavirus in the state. Here's a breakdown:

-- 26 people are hospitalized
-- 20 counties are affected
-- 2 deaths have been reported
-- 20 counties are affected

4:12 p.m. | Children's Hospital Colorado closing select locations

Children's Hospital Colorado will be temporarily closing several locations in response to COVID-19 in Colorado effective today until April 5. The locations are as follows:

-- Outpatient and Urgent Care at Uptown (1830 Franklin St., Denver)
-- Outpatient and Urgent Care, Wheat Ridge (3455 Lutheran Parkway, Suite 230)
-- Orthopedic Care, Centennial (9094 East Mineral Ave., Suite 110)
-- Therapy Care, Broomfield (8401 Arista Place)
-- Therapy Care, Highlands Ranch (9139 South Ridgeline Blvd., Suite 100)
-- Therapy Care, Broomfield (8401 Arista Place)
-- Therapy Care, Highlands Ranch (9139 South Ridgeline Blvd., Suite 100)
-- Therapy Care, Parker (19284 Cottonwood Dr., Suite 101)
-- Therapy Care, Printer’s Park Medical Plaza (175 South Union Blvd., Suite 255)
-- Therapy Care, Pueblo (704 Fortino Blvd., Suite A)

4:01 p.m.: | DORA expedites licensing to increase healthcare worker capacity in the state

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 licensure, 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.

3:39 p.m. | CDOT: Avoid traveling tonight through Friday morning

CDOT is asking people in the Front Range to avoid traveling tonight through Friday morning due to a powerful storm that is forecast to dump up to 8 inches of snow in the Denver metro. See the latest Colorado snow forecast here.

3:38 p.m. | Loveland suspends utility shut-offs in wake of coronavirus spread

The City of Loveland says it will suspend service shut-offs for residents with delinquent utility accounts until March 27 "in recognition of circumstances presented by the current COVID-19 public health emergency."

The moratorium on service interruptions will be continuously evaluated after March 27, officials say.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment successfully filed between 8,000 to 10,000 unemployment claims as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to an agency spokesperson. Read more about how to apply for unemployment benefits here.

3:33 p.m. | Denver Auditor changing operations

The Denver Auditor said it's changing operations at their office in response to COVID-19. Audit work will continue as required by the Denver charter, but the office is making adjustments with other agencies to accommodate virtual meeting needs. The office is also adjusting to accomodate members of agencies under audit working in the city's Emergency Operations Center.

3:09 p.m. | Vail Resorts asks employees to return home

In a letter from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz, employees are being told to "urgently" leave housing and return to their primary residences as Colorado operates under a State of Emergency.

"It is in your best interest, and in the best interest of the community, for those who can return home to do so as soon as possible. We want everyone to be in the right place to get the best support," the letter reads.

Katz also said that any employee who has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 will be allowed to remain in employee housing until a safe transition plan can be determined.

3:06 p.m. | Florissant Fossil Beds modifies operations

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument will be closing the visitor center starting today to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus in our state. The picnic area and outdoor restrooms adjacent to the visitor center will remain open. The grounds of the Hornbek Homestead, the Barksdale Picnic area, and all other park trails will also remain open, officials say.

3:04 p.m. | Colorado Hospital Association releases statement

In a statement Wednesday, the Colorado Hospital Association says hospitals around the state have been preparing for a surge related to COVID-19 for the past several weeks. They also note:

"Because the demand for testing is outpacing the supply, it is crucial that hospitals prioritize testing for patients who are in the hospital needing acute care, health care workers and first responders and those presenting to the hospital ER with life-threatening illness."

The association urges those with mild symptoms to first talk to their doctor or primary care provider and seek testing at a community testing site - not a hospital or ER.

3:02 p.m. | Eagle County urges people from traveling to the county

Eagle County officials say they suspect "hundreds, if not thousands" of community members have contracted COVID-19, and are now urging that visitors and tourists refrain from coming into the county, and also ask that residents stay home if possible to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Bars, clubs, brewpubs, taverns, dine-in sections of restaurants, theaters, gyms, and performance venues are closed. Read the new public health order here.

3 p.m. | Roaring Fork Schools close through April 17

All public schools from Parachute to Aspen will be closed through April 17, a spokesperson from the Roarin Fork School District says. This includes Garfield County School District 16, Garfield School District No. Re-2, Roaring Fork School District Re-1, Aspen School District, Aspen Community School, Carbondale Community School, Marble Charter School, Ross Montessori, Two Rivers Community School, and Yampah Mountain High School.

All public schools are anticipated to resume on April 20 contingent that social isolation orders are lifted, the spokesperson says.

2:54 p.m. | Latest CDPHE update

Much of what CDPHE state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy discussed at today’s daily CDPHE briefing involved who is being prioritized for testing and what the current capacity is – which we’ve detailed extensively here.

She said that the state was doing a survey of how many hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators health care providers have on hand and hoped to have those details later this week.

When asked whether the state response has been affected by the length of time the federal response has taken, Herlihy said there have been challenges in obtaining testing reagents and the supplies needed to perform testing at the state lab and at commercial facilities.

She said that the limitation on resources has been challenging for the state to implement the testing it wants to, especially for higher-risk patients. She said the state was continuing to work with private and federal partners to get more testing in the state online.

2:20 p.m. | Bringing the Zoo to you

The Denver Zoo is closed during the coronavirus outbreak, too. So they're bringing the zoo to you with "virtual safari" videos. Here's the live stream from earlier today:

Bringing the Zoo to You: Virtual safari at the Denver Zoo

2:15 p.m. | Senates passes COVID-19 bill

The U.S. Senate has passed its coronavirus response measure to provide sick leave and free testing on to the president’s desk.

1:30 p.m. | Rep. Crow town hall, mobile testing in Routt Co. this weekend, CU Denver case

--The CDPHE and Routt County Public Health will stand up a mobile testing site in Steamboat Springs on Saturday, March 21 at The Meadows Parking Lot, located at 1165 Bangtail Way. It will be operational from noon to 5 p.m.

People need to bring an order from their health care provider confirming they meet criteria and a photo ID that matches the name on the order.

--Rep. Jason Crow is hosting a phone town hall at 6:45 p.m. to talk to 6th congressional district residents about the response to COVID-19. You can join the call by clicking here or dialing 855-286-0269.

--CU Denver says a student tested positive for COVID-19. They were last on campus on March 9 and have self-quarantined since then. The latest CU Denver updates are coming here.

--A warning from the Vail Health CEO that it’s “time to take COVID-19 seriously in Eagle County.”

“In just a week, we’ve gone from 7 to over 50 confirmed COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases. The real number of local cases in the Eagle River Valley is more likely hundreds if not thousands of people. It is everywhere here; we just don’t have the test results to prove it, and we won’t anytime soon,” Vail Health CEO and President Will Cook said.

--The governor said he wants all Coloradans to know that this period will end and there will be recovery in Colorado, but he said it will still get worse before it gets better. He said the state would be keeping its “eye on the ball” to support recovery efforts as quickly as possible.

--Polis reiterated that there were web traffic strains on the state’s unemployment insurance site and on the new COVID-19 tracking site. He urged people to go on the unemployment site early in the morning or later at night to spread out the load.

--He said he would be announcing more steps to the state’s response in coming hours and days.

--He said he supported possible checks from the federal government – part of the possible COVID-19 response package the U.S. Senate is working on after it passed the House last week. He strongly urged Congress to act as immediately as possible and to get money straight to Americans.

--Polis said the state was working on ways to keep people in their apartments or houses if they are facing issues paying rent in coming weeks and making sure that eviction orders aren’t being processed as they normally are.

--He said some health care providers, including UCHealth, Children’s Hospital and Kaiser, would have the ability to process tests in coming days – or worst case, weeks – which should start cutting down on testing turnaround times.

--Polis said it was looking “increasingly unlikely” that school districts that are closed reopen this schoolyear.

--He stressed that the responsibility of social distancing was on people themselves and said people would, frankly, be “stupid” to have large gatherings. While law enforcement won’t be able to enforce everything regarding social distancing, Polis said people were jeopardizing the lives of others by not social distancing. “Don’t be dumb here and think you’re getting away with something just because the cops aren’t shutting you down,” he said.

--The governor announced the launch of HelpColoradoNow.org, where people can sign up to volunteer or donate to the state’s COVID Relief Fund. The state has already received $2.8 million in donations.

--He also announced a resource for child care for essential workers like those who work at health care facility and public safety employees. Click here for more on the Colorado Emergency Child Care Collaborative.

--Polis also asked for blood donations from anyone who is healthy and eligible. Blood donations can be arranged through Vitalant at vitalant.org.

--Polis also asked for blood donations from anyone who is healthy and eligible. Blood donations can be arranged through Vitalant at vitalant.org.

Help Colorado Now: Go here for coronavirus volunteer and donation opportunities

The Manitou Incline is closed, as well as the shuttle that services it. It's not clear when it will reopen.

12:30 p.m. | Positive COVID-19 case at Buckley Air Force Base

The Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora said a civilian contractor is undergoing evaluation and treatment after testing positive for COVID-19. A public health emergency was declared for the base, which limits duty to only essential personnel.

12:15 p.m. | Elitch Gardens postpones opening day

Elitch Gardens says its opening day, which was originally scheduled for April 11, has been postponed. The park said it is planning to open on May 16.

12:02 p.m. | Denver Humane Services facilities close

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said the Denver Human Services facilities will close to the public beginning Thursday until further notice. However, staff will continue to offer their help to Denver families online and over the phone from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Click here for details.

12:01 p.m. | Positive COVID-19 case at CU Denver

The CU Denver chancellor announced that a student has tested positive for COVID-19. The student was last on campus on March 9 and has been self-quarantined since then, the chancellor said. According to The Denver Post, the Boulder County Public Health Department said it is a person in their 20s, and that they had attended St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the University Hill neighborhood over the weekend.

11:15 a.m. | Polis addresses how you can help

Gov. Jared Polis announced a central website for anyone looking to volunteer or donate to the state's response to the coronavirus. On Help Colorado Now, you can sign up to volunteer or contribute to the state's COVID Relief Fund, so more resources become available to fight the spread of COVID-19.

The relief fund, which is also hosted by Mile High United Way, will help an array of issues, including preventative efforts and people who have lost their jobs due to the outbreak.

Polis also announced a resource for childcare for essential workers, such as hospital and public safety employees. The Colorado Emergency Child Care Collaborative will work with employers in those fields to survey employees who might meet the criteria. Possibilities for the program inclue licensed in-home care, a center-based program, a school-based program and on-demand child care. The program will match families in need with the providers.

Go here for more information about the Colorado Emergency Child Care Collaborative and the survey.

11 a.m. | Ford, GM, Fiat Chrysler shutting down factories

Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler will close all of their factories due to worker fears about the coronavirus, sources told 7 Action News in Detroit.

The details of the closure are expected to be released later Wednesday, and the closures could come as early as Wednesday.

10:50 a.m. | Pepsi Center worker tests positive

An employee who works at the Pepsi Center has tested positive for coronavirus, according to Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. The Legends employee, who officials said is a beverage associate, last worked at the Pepsi Center on March 11, in the "back-of-the-house area" of the arena that does not require direct interaction with consumers. The employee was recovering in isolation this week.

The Avalanche played the New York Rangers on March 11. A Post Malone concert was held at the Pepsi Center the following night, before Kroenke officials announced the arena would be closing for 30 days.

8:42 a.m. | State Capitol to close

The Colorado State Capitol will close to the public indefinitely, the state announced Wednesday morning.

7:37 a.m. | U.S.-Canada border to close

President Trump announced that the U.S. and Canada have agreed to close the border separating the countries amid the COVID-19 outbreak. He also stated trade would not be affected, with the promise of more details to come. Read more here.

6:20 a.m. | Telephone town hall scheduled for Thursday

The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office said itself, along with Adams County, Douglas County and the Tri-County Health Department, will hold a telephone town hall Thursday at 7 p.m. Call 1-855-436-3656 then to join.

1:58 a.m. | Target announces dedicated hours to vulnerable guests

On Tuesday, Target announced that beginning Wednesday, all Target stores will close at 9 p.m. local time to give staff time to clean and restock each day. In addition, the first hour the stores are open will be dedicated to only vulnerable guests, which includes the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.

MORE | Coronavirus in Colorado: Updates from March 12-17, 2020