For better or for worse, journalists tend to have a poor sense of self-preservation in times of crisis. This is probably why after teaching my last in-person class of the semester at the University of Colorado Thursday morning, I went to the Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe to meet a friend rather than heading to work in the socially distanced safety of my home 10 miles away.
It was busy there, with students working on their laptops at shared tables and small groups of people rolling in and out for meetings. I heard international students chatting about their school projects, and businessmen talking about local tech start-ups, venture capital and how the big, influential Silicon Valley companies in our region might work together. The baristas carefully cleaned high-touch surfaces, like the front door, every hour, and thoughtfully answered questions about how a coffee shop that had made a zero-waste pledge to help save the Earth might have to rethink the ethos — if only temporarily — and start using disposable cups and plates to help protect the community.
The spread of the novel coronavirus is clearly on people’s minds, as it is on ours. But I felt encouraged yesterday. People, minus a few folks trying to profiteer by reselling toilet paper and hand sanitizer from their trunks, seemed to understand their individual roles in caring for each other while still fully engaging in their lives. We are going to have to lean on one another — metaphorically! no touching strangers! — in the next few weeks to navigate this public health crisis. I have faith that we can do it and emerge from this period of social distance without too much damage to the fabric that makes Colorado great. We’ll be there with you.
And don’t forget, it’s times like this that open access to high-quality news coverage from your neighborhood, city and state is especially critical.
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So let’s wash our hands while singing the “corona” chorus from Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” shall we?
The Latest from The Sun
If you’re taking the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and trying to lessen your anxiety around the novel coronavirus by generally avoiding media coverage of the issue, bookmark this link as a spot you can check in once a day to see how the virus is spreading in Colorado without being overwhelmed. We’re keeping up so you don’t have to. >> MAP
Writing a term paper on a cell phone? For Colorado college students forced off campus by coronavirus, that may be the only option.
Most Colorado colleges and universities are transitioning to online learning in response to the spread of the coronavirus, which has triggered a discussion around education equity. Erica Breunlin explains how students who struggle to access technology and a reliable internet connection will continue their coursework. >> STORY
Lisa Straight, director of community health for the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, talks with a community member about where to find resources related to the coronavirus outbreak. (Moe Clark, The Colorado Sun)
It’s easy enough for most of us to observe the protocols for slowing the spread of COVID-19, which includes keeping your hands clean and physically distancing yourself from others. For the many people who are homeless in Colorado, those simple steps are sometimes difficult. Moe Clark rode along with public health workers who are working to help people who live on the streets stay safe. >> STORY
Lawmakers are pondering the possibility of shutting down the legislature — at least temporarily — as soon as this weekend. But their work must continue. Jesse Paul and John Frank explain lawmakers’ scramble to vote on legislation they say must pass before a shutdown, including a bill authorizing the county and state nominating assemblies to be delayed. >> STORY
THE REST OF THE COLORADO REPORT
Jeff Woodward and Erik Lambert built a temporary hut at the base of their temporary Bluebird Backcountry ski area, where they offered skiing on avalanche-mitigated slopes beneath Whiteley Peak. (Shondia Houtzer, Special to The Colorado Sun)
Ski entrepreneurs Jeff Woodward and Erik Lambert had a wild idea: Why not create a ski area where people could explore backcountry skiing without the expense and risk of going out on their own? They tested the concept last season and this year Bluebird Backcountry got going in earnest, on a ranch near Kremmling and people showed up. Jason Blevins checked out the 1,500-acre, human-powered ski hill last week, and you can still get up there for a few more days. >> STORY
“We are happy to see the senator supporting wilderness, but we feel the recommendations were plucked for political purposes.”
— Christine Canaly, director of the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council
Just ahead of what’s expected to be a difficult race to keep his U.S. Senate seat, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner introduced legislation that would add acreage to the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area above the San Luis Valley. His Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Additions Act, Gardner’s first-ever wilderness bill, could add more than 40,000 acres to the Rio Grande National Forest. >> STORY
How loud is too loud? Telluride thrives on music festivals, but some locals want to turn down the volume
Crowds fill the park in Telluride’s east end for RIDE Festival in 2015. (Dylan Langille, RIDE Festival)
Telluride’s summer tourism economy was built on the folksy outdoor bluegrass festival. But as more, bigger and louder festivals have been added, people who live in the town’s east end, near the sprawling park where the big shows are held, are screaming the equivalent of “YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN.” Nancy Lofholm reports on why town administrators are taking control of the volume knob. >> STORY
State regulators have proposed an $18.25 million fine against a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum for its role in the 2017 home explosion in Firestone that killed two men. Kerr McGee, the subsidiary, said it does not plan to appeal the fine, which stands as the largest ever imposed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission — by 11 times. >> STORY
The Fun Stuff
JOHN FRANK’S BEER PICK
Left Hand Brewing, based in Longmont, announced this week they would open another location in Denver’s Curtis Park neighborhood, taking over the space that once held Liberati Brewing’s restaurant. To celebrate their arrival, grab a Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro — one of the landmark Colorado beers — to enjoy in privacy of your (hopefully) disease-free home ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.
// RAP BATTLE ROYALE: Many people lamented Elizabeth Warren’s exit from the Democratic presidential race, but in “What’d I Miss?” Ossie allows himself to imagine her — and other contenders — as battle rappers. Check out artist Cori Redford’s depictions of a young Warren locking horns with a young Trump. Extra credit if you know where the reference to “Mom’s spaghetti” originated.
// GOING SPORTS-STIR CRAZY: The novel coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with many facets of our lives, but Drew Litton zeroes in on its impact on the general sanity of a sports-crazed public as the pastimes for which spring is both culmination and harbinger — including epic seasons for the Nuggets and Avalanche — abruptly hit the “pause” button.
The latest release of the late Gary Reilly’s considerable body of work ventures into yet another genre — science fiction/fantasy — but with predictable results: another finalist in the Colorado Book Awards. Stylistically, his prose in “The Legend of Carl Draco” is richer than some of his previous novels, but it settles into its own comfortable rhythms as we meet a gritty, street-wise and reluctant superhero. Mark Stevens, one of the friends who has made it their mission to introduce Reilly’s work to the public (he never published his 25 novels on his own), provides some insight into the author’s M.O. in the SunLit interview.
BOOK CLUB CANCELED FOR MARCH: The Colorado Sun Book Club, which was to meet Monday, March 30 at BookBar with author Laura Pritchett to discuss “The Blue Hour,” has been canceled due to concerns stemming from the coronavirus. We hope to reschedule and will keep readers apprised of developments.
The Colorado Report
THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE
// BIG CAT ATTACK: A 6-foot mountain lion attacked multiple people in Larimer County on Wednesday, and both a deputy and civilian suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The cat, whose aggressive behavior was caught on video, was tracked down and killed. // Out There Colorado
// STOPPED MAKING SENS-OR: More than half of the 2,644 parking sensors designed to track how Fort Collins on-street parking spaces are used have failed, but the city won’t be on the hook for repair of the $422,000 system. The equipment is supposed to help shape future parking strategy, and the vendor will pick up the cost of the 1,900 sensors that quit working. // The Coloradoan
// AURORA DINGED AGAIN FOR PASSED-OUT COP CASE A former U.S. attorney has added his voice to the chorus of criticism surrounding the handling of an Aurora police officer found passed out behind the wheel of his still-running cruiser last year, according to a 329-page document. John Walsh singled out the former chief and deputy chief for the way they pursued the case, which resulted in no criminal charges being filed, but said they did not act in “bad faith.” // The Sentinel
// CHEAP FARES FOR THOSE WILLING TO TRAVEL: Travel restrictions and mass cancellations have wreaked havoc on the airline industry, but for people willing to risk the germ-infested elements of air travel, there are some good deals out there. Frontier announced 90% savings on most of its routes. Not that you were eager to head to Rome right now, but Norwegian Airlines postponed indefinitely the introduction of the nonstop route it announced last year. // The Denver Post
// FORTUNE 500 COMPANY MAKES IT RAIN IN BOULDER: Paychecks have risen dramatically in Boulder County, where weekly wages increased 18.5% in the third quarter of 2019 from the previous year. The boost has largely been driven by Pfizer’s $11 billion acquisition of Array BioPharma. Since the Great Recession, Boulder County has continued to prosper, in part through an “innovation economy” that’s attracted big-name companies. // CNN
// “CERTAINLY NOT A CRAPPY EDITION”: It’s not a Colorado story, but this is too good not to share. An Australian newspaper ran an eight-page special section that contained no photos, no stories –– nothing but cut-lines so readers could trim the pages into emergency toilet paper. The NT News, which serves the Northern Territories, came up with the idea in response to the run on essentials that left many store shelves bare. // CNN
// A GUIDE TO “SOCIAL DISTANCING”: As a mass behavior, this is a new concept — and one that raises a lot of legitimate questions. Can I date? Is it OK to visit a friend? Should I go to the gym? Here’s the advice of health experts on some of the corona-conundrums. // The Atlantic
Whew! It’s been a week, hasn’t it? As I mentioned up top, I believe in community and am grateful for the one close to me — today’s newsletter team Erica Breunlin and Kevin Simpson, especially — but also for the community that supports The Colorado Sun. If you value our work and haven’t already signed up for a membership, there’s no time like today to click here and join. If you have, share this link with friends and fam who seem like they should be part of the tribe.
Have a great weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday.