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First Colorado coronavirus death announced as El Paso County woman in her 80s

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Posted at 3:00 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 20:37:08-04

DENVER – A woman in her 80s living in El Paso County who had underlying health conditions is the first person confirmed to have died of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Friday afternoon.

Earlier Friday, the CDPHE announced there were 72 presumptive positive cases of the virus in Colorado, and Gov. Jared Polis said he expected there would be more announced in coming days, as well as his expectation that the state’s first death would be announced.

Press conference: First Colorado coronavirus death announced as El Paso County woman in her 80s

“While we were expecting this day, it doesn't make it any less difficult to hear and share this news. As a state we are in mourning and our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the Coloradan we lost,” Polis said in a statement.

“We offer our deepest, heartfelt condolences to the family and are saddened by this news,” said El Paso County Public Health Director Susan Wheeling in a statement. “We have a dedicated team of experts working around the clock to protect the health and safety of our community. We are doing everything we can to prevent more loss of lives. We know all of El Paso County, and Colorado, will join us.”

“We care deeply about our older Coloradans and people who have chronic diseases,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “This is an all-hands-on-deck effort to slow the spread and support people during these trying times. We know Coloradans will do whatever it takes to help protect those at risk of getting very sick.”

“I am deeply saddened to learn that we lost a Coloradan to a case of COVID-19 today. Our thoughts are with her family, friends, and community,” U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said in a statement. “In the midst of this public health crisis, I know Coloradans are up to the task of supporting each other and taking the necessary precautions to protect our most vulnerable. I will continue working with Governor Polis, the Colorado Congressional delegation, and our local partners to ensure that we are doing everything we can to combat the coronavirus and keep Coloradans safe.”

Officials expressed their condolences to the woman’s family at a 5 p.m. news conference and said the woman died at home and was living independently.

“While these are difficult times, El Paso County is strong and we will continue to unite as a community to overcome the challenges we see in front of us,” said El Paso County Commissioner Mike Waller.

“We grieve for them and we grieve with them as we will for all victims of this virus,” Polis said of the woman’s family, adding for the days ahead, “In darkness, there is always a light.”

For the latest COVID-19 updates from across Colorado, click here.