Skip to contents
The Sunriser

Sunriser: State coronavirus death toll grows / Lack of testing / Major job losses / How to help your neighbors / Montrose body broker update / So much more

Your guided tour through Colorado news, compiled by your friends at The Sun.

Compiled by Erica Breunlin, erica@coloradosun.com
Education reporter, @EricaBreunlin

Good morning! I hope this Sunriser finds you bright-eyed after a festive night of raising a glass of green beer from your couch. It’s almost a cliché at this point to say what a weird world we’re living in right now as the coronavirus makes life more unrecognizable by the day. 

Coloradans, like much of the rest of the world, have been forced to shuffle their lives with a shutdown of many schools, restaurants, bars and that building with the big, gold dome on East Colfax Avenue. And yet, things have never felt more frantic — at least from where I’m sitting, which from now on will be in my studio apartment surrounded by rolls of toilet paper (a reasonable number) and chocolate that I can stress eat. 

I don’t mind spending time alone — in fact, I often crave it — but I know a sense of loneliness is bound to set in. And I know that while I’m by myself, I’m not alone with that anticipation. As we all stumble through the uncertainty, let’s remember to actively reach out to one another — especially to our friends and family who may not feel mentally equipped to cope with so many abrupt changes. 

Ask them if they’re OK and remind them that you’re there, if only in spirit. Camaraderie — from a distance — may not cure COVID-19, but it can certainly keep someone’s day coursing in a better direction.

So call your parents, text your pals, master TikTok (and then teach me). But let’s fire up this video conferencing software already, shall we?

Note from Eric Lubbers, who is back from an ill-timed road trip: Hey friends! We’re working on a bunch of brand new ways for readers like you to experience news and The Sun community now that we’re all staying home and hungry for both. We’ll have a lot more to announce soon, but in the meantime, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and watch for info there! Hang in there, folks, we’ll get through this together!

 

The Latest from The Sun

 

CORONAVIRUS

Second Colorado coronavirus death announced; U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Jason Crow in quarantine 

“Even though I have no symptoms, we have to treat any possible exposure with the utmost caution and for that reason, I will self-quarantine. This is a pandemic and it’s incumbent upon every American to do their part.”

— U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat who is in isolation aftering being exposed to a constituent who tested positive for coronavirus

The coronavirus has claimed the life of a second Coloradan, a Weld County man in his 70s whose illness was linked to a previously announced case of COVID-19. Jesse Paul reports the details — or lack of — that have been released by about the death. Plus, why U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep Jason Crow are self quarantining. >> STORY

  • ALMOST 200 CASES + COUNTING: Here’s our updated map on where each of Colorado’s coronavirus cases are, with charts also showing the situation across the nation and globe.
  • BARS, RESTAURANTS, CASINOS, GYMS AND THEATERS CLOSED: We hope you got your last-minute fix in before Gov. Jared Polis shut it all down on Tuesday morning. We have a look at what may be next on his list.
  • TOILET PAPER, SOAP AND GUNS: Firearms are flying off the shelves in Colorado as fast as other products. “They’re worried about martial law,” one gun store owner in Colorado Springs said. “They’re worried (about) protecting their toilet paper.” 

MEANWHILE… Colorado has activated the National Guard to help with coronavirus. The lowest-rank troops make just $1.67 an hour.

 


 

10 days, no answer: How one Colorado man’s story exemplifies the state’s struggle with coronavirus testing

Health workers collect patient information from people waiting to be tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, outside the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s lab in Denver. (John Ingold, The Colorado Sun)

“I ended up getting bounced around to multiple people, five or six bounces every time I called. It kind of seemed like no one would know where the result would be if it did come in.”

— Ryan Gooch, a Coloradan who waited 10 days for the results of his coronavirus test

Colorado’s approach to testing residents for the coronavirus has been riddled with problems and delays — from not enough tests to long lags in disclosing test results. Ryan Gooch waited 10 days for his results after being told they would be ready after three days at most. John Ingold writes about the frustrations and the holes in the state’s testing system — one that, while flawed, has still made more progress than those of other states. >> STORY

+ OTHER SHORTAGES: As coronavirus testing gears up, specialized swabs are running out, reports Kaiser Health News. It’s a grim reminder that we are very much behind this thing.

+ #STOPTHESPREAD: A plea by Colorado tech firms for a faster response to coronavirus has gone national. 

 


 

Unemployment claims skyrocket as thousands of Coloradans lose their jobs

3,900 📈 6,800

Unemployment claims soared this week in Colorado — to 6,800 on Tuesday morning from 3,900 on Monday — as the coronavirus has pushed some businesses to trim their hours and others have closed under an order from Gov. Jared Polis. Colorado’s unemployment fund is stocked with $1.1 billion, enough to cover unemployed workers with benefits for 18 months in a regular downturn. But as Tamara Chuang reports, concerns around a much bigger coronavirus-fueled downturn are spreading about as fast as the disease. >> STORY

+ “THEY ARE KICKING US OUT”: Thousands of Vail Resorts seasonal workers haven’t just lost their jobs as the company shuts down its North American ski areas for the season. Many, including those who worked at Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge, are now being told to quickly leave their housing. (More on the ski area closures below…)

+ A HUGE ECONOMIC HIT: The meat and potatoes of Colorado’s economy — tourism, service jobs and more — are at risk during this outbreak-fueled downturn. And the lawmakers tasked with writing the state budget are looking at a big budget deficit.

 


 

This is how much Colorado’s mountain communities stand to lose without skiing, restaurants, bars and lodging 

A sign over Colorado 135 at the entrance to the town of Gunnison repeats the Colorado state advisory to keep your distance, but says the county will reopen to tourism on April 8. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Skiers in Colorado’s mountain towns typically spend big money in March and early April. But with ski areas shutting down across the state — any hope of them reopening dwindling by the hour — it looks like communities like Aspean, Vail, Steamboat Springs and Avon are set to take walloping. Reporter Jason Blevins dug into tax data to report how staggering the losses may be. >> STORY

  • SKI SEASON LIKELY OVER: Vail Resorts on Tuesday announced that it is now shutting down all of its ski areas for the season. Breckenridge may reopen, but there’s a lot of “ifs” surrounding that decision. Here’s why the move could end the ski season altogether in Colorado, even as other resorts were hoping to have a few more weeks of shredding.

 


 

Colorado food banks brace for fewer volunteers, shutdown of smaller pantries amid coronavirus fears

Patrick Hosokawa, left, of Aurora, sorts food with his University of Colorado Anschutz Campus colleague Laura Helmkamp, right, of Denver, as they volunteer at the Food Bank of the Rockies warehouse. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Food banks and food pantries rely on volunteers to operate. Without them, there’s no way to get food to needy people. And with the coronavirus raging across Colorado, people are simply staying home. “We’re going into the epidemic with the assumption there will be increased need and many of the nearly 700 food pantries will likely temporarily cease to distribute,” one operator said. >> STORY

+ DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS FEEDING KIDS, ADULTS: Everyone is trying to pitch in right now. Reporter Erica Breunlin headed to one Denver school to talk to students and their parents as they sought to get a little help amid this crisis. “This is all part of making sure that our families are a little bit more stable during this very unsettling time.”

+ TEACHERS UNION WANTS SCHOOLS CLOSED: Most Colorado school districts have closed. The state’s largest teachers union wants Gov. Jared Polis to shut dow the rest.

+ WHERE TO SEND YOUR KIDS?: Some Colorado child care centers followed districts in shutting down. But now the state wants them to stay open

 


 

A special committee advises the governor on how to respond to an epidemic. They’ve never faced a test like this.

“The health care system is starting to get stressed right now. So I think we should take this absolutely very seriously, and anything we can do to slow this down that’s reasonable I think we should consider.”

— Dr. Daniel Pastula, a member of the state Board of Health

The Governor’s Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee convened via phone on Monday for the first time since COVID-19 began to sweep through Colorado. The committee talked about the number of future cases — spoiler alert: members don’t expect a sharp increase over time — and the precautions Colorado should take now. John Ingold breaks down the questions and issues the committee is confronting, which includes the possibility of closing non-essential businesses. How do you define those? >> STORY

Stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak but want to help here in Colorado? Here’s how.

Kevin Simpson has a list of ways to help from your living room.

Keeping Coloradans up-to-date is one of the best ways to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. If you find yourself at home and still making a steady income, please take what you would have spent on Starbucks or even just the tip on your bar tab and become a member of The Colorado Sun. For just $5/month you can invest in something that thousands of your neighbors are relying on. Click here right now to join in.

Already a member of The Sun or just looking for a one-time contribution? Click here.

More from The Sun

“We’re just kind of left not knowing. We might have her body, we might not. We might have other people’s ashes. It could be a mixture.”

— Nastassja Olson, who worries that she may be one of Megan Hess’ victims in a scheme where dead bodies were cut up and sold despite their loved ones’ wishes.

 

The Colorado Report

THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE

// JAILS AND PRISONS — PETRI DISHES FOR COVID-19?: As social distancing becomes the new norm across Colorado, one sector of the population remains in close quarters: inmates. Advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, are warning Gov. Jared Polis of the potential for prison populations to add fuel to coronavirus infection rates. // The Gazette

// NORDIC SKIING ISN’T SO GREEN: Wax is a critical piece of gear for Nordic skiers and alpine racers. But new research suggests many premium waxes are contaminating alpine food webs as they slough off around ski areas // High Country News

// NATHANIEL RATELIFF — WITHOUT A HAT??: Here’s a nice little Q&A with Colorado’s beloved Nathaniel Rateliff dealing with his new solo album, “And It’s Still Alright,” that dropped on Valentine’s Day, and why he’s leaving his broad-brimmed chapeau in the closet for a while. // 5280

// HELP FOR THE KITCHEN CURIOUS: Let’s face it, we eat out a tremendous amount. And yes, we should support our restaurant friends by ordering take out. But maybe you want to try to cook at home? Follow home-grown America’s Test Kitchen editor Tucker Shaw on Twitter and Instagram for helpful hints and, sometimes, recipes. // America’s Test Kitchen

The good news: You’ve made it to the end of this news roundup.

The bad news: You’ve made it to the end of this news roundup.

But don’t worry. We’ll continue following the spread of the coronavirus across Colorado (and also reporting other stories that warrant your attention). 

As we do so, we want to hear from you. What are the best ways to help your community manage the coronavirus crisis, from individual gestures to contributing to larger-scale efforts? What needs might have fallen through the cracks? 

Send us your thoughts via Twitter to @ColoradoSun or email us at newsroom@coloradosun.com. We’ll see you at the same time, same virtual place on Friday.

— Erica