A pedicab driver in a Halloween hazmat suit waits for a passenger on the then-still-lively 6th Street in Austin, Texas, on March 14, 2020. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
Good morning! It’s Friday, but it’s weird to say that considering that our usual markers of time (work, school, sports, happy hours, weekends, birthday parties, brunches) have lost a lot of their meaning.
It’s only been 10 days since I last wrote a Sunriser on my own and headed out on a 2,300-mile road trip through New Mexico and Texas, but they just happen to be the 10 days in which daily life as we know it has been completely rewritten. My colleagues here at The Sun have been doing phenomenal work to keep everyone informed and I’m as proud as ever to be part of this team.
And you, too, should be proud. As a member of The Sun, you’re part of this team and helping us stay on top of one of the biggest stories of our lifetimes. We say it a lot, but thank you. And don’t be shy about sharing the work you helped make with the people in your life.
If you’d like to back our team, we’ve never needed your support more. For the cost of what you would have spent on a couple of trips to a coffee shop (or one cocktail at brunch), you can directly help keep your entire state informed. Click here to join our community for just $5/month (or more, if you can spare it).
As is the new normal, we have so much important news to get to today, so let’s properly light ourselves for a video call already, shall we?
The Latest from The Sun
A new landing page for all coronavirus news
We’ve updated coloradosun.com/coronavirus with more information and an easier way to navigate, so keep that page handy to quickly access our map of known cases, a list of resources, what we know about testing and the latest news. >> LANDING PAGE
Two more Coloradans have died after contracting COVID-19. Gov Jared Polis has warned that more deaths are, unfortunately, inevitable. >> STORY
March 20 through April 3
— The new period for uninsured Coloradans to enroll in an individual health plan through the state’s marketplace
Since our last newsletter, Gov. Polis ordered all schools and ski areas closed and limited gatherings to no more than 10 people, said Coloradans should expect additional social distancing measures and yesterday announced that all salons, barbers, tattoo and massage parlors must be closed. Also in that order, a new opportunity for uninsured Coloradans to get insurance. >> STORY
More quick updates
Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, speaks about mental health parity to the audience at The Colorado Sun’s Big Ideas 2020 Forum on Jan. 14. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
- LAWMAKER DIAGNOSED, HAS SYMPTOMS: State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, a Commerce City Democrat, has tested positive for the new coronavirus. >> STORY
- LEAGUE OF CITIES CONFERENCE EXPOSED GARDNER, CROW: Jesse Paul has the story of how a trip for leaders of 22 Colorado towns and cities is the event that exposed two of Colorado’s congressional delegation to the coronavirus. >> STORY
- EMERGENCY CHILD CARE FOR FRONTLINE HEALTH CARE WORKERS: First responders and health care workers will have access to emergency child care so they can continue their work. >> STORY
Skiers Gary Fondl, left, and Blake Elrod skin up toward the Continental Divide near Dillon on Sunday. (Hugh Carey, Special to The Colorado Sun)
If you’re social distancing properly, you’re probably already feeling a little cabin fever and you might be tempted to head into Colorado’s great outdoors to get some extra distance. But as Jason Blevins writes, the usual safety net of search and rescue teams, avalanche mitigation efforts and more are already stretched thin due to the virus. Read this one before you head outside. >> STORY
+ NATIONAL PARKS ARE OPEN, WITH SOME CHANGES: Rocky Mountain National Park is among national parks still open, but don’t expect visitor centers, shuttles, lodges or food. >> STORY
As hospitals brace for critical coronavirus patients, Colorado still doesn’t know how many ventilators are in the state
Hospitals say they could soon see hundreds of patients with COVID-19, and official state numbers — hobbled by limited testing — don’t reflect the full tally. John Ingold has more on the push to get accurate, reliable information to prep for a wave of admissions — and how hospitals are looking to reconfigure to add more ICU beds. >> STORY
Colorado researchers are racing to find an antiviral drug that could save people with the new coronavirus
“Then the virus can’t replicate itself. That’s the No. 1 goal of any virus, to replicate, replicate, replicate.”
— Jed Lampe, a researcher at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy, on his team’s efforts to make a compound that will bind to the novel coronavirus and limit its spread.
A team at the CU pharmacy school is testing modified versions of two HIV drugs in the hope of finding a treatment that works for the virus. Jennifer Brown has more on the race to create a drug — think Tamiflu for traditional influenza — to lessen the most severe symptoms of COVID-19. >> STORY
A Telluride couple is paying for their entire county’s coronavirus tests. They hope the results will stop the disease everywhere.
“We are presuming we have the disease. We just don’t know how widespread it is.”
— San Miguel County spokesman Susan Lilly
It was international news when it was announced that San Miguel County, home of Telluride, would be the first in the country to test every resident for coronavirus, with some Twitter users expressing concern that a ritzy resort town was getting better treatment than the rest of the country. Jesse Paul talked to the local couple whose company is paying for the tests and why they hope the data they get will help people around the world stop the spread. >> STORY
Colorado is banking on telehealth to slow coronavirus. But many rural hospitals lack necessary resources.
It sounds great on paper: Have more patients meet their doctors virtually to help slow the spread of the virus. But for some rural hospitals in Colorado, the funding, equipment and even broadband to turn on telehealth service are in short supply. Moe Clark has more. >> STORY
“Your body is new and it’s healthy and it has systems in place to help fight this off.”
— A reminder to help calm an anxious child recommended by Angela Narayan, assistant professor of clinical child psychology in the University of Denver’s Department of Psychology
Education reporter Erica Breunlin has five quick ways to help ease children’s anxieties as the world around them changes. >> LIST
As whole industries shut down across the country, Colorado’s unemployment office is being inundated with new filings. We’re tracking them as we get new data. Also on this page: resources for how to get benefits and how other states are faring. >> CHART + LIST
Virtual happy hour, barbell rentals, DIY craft kits: Colorado businesses share their coronavirus survival strategies
“One way it helps us is it gives our members more access to working out. If we can keep them engaged and working out and staying healthy, the chances of them staying engaged and involved with our business are very high.”
— Caleb Sommer, co-owner of Project Rise Fitness in Denver
Here are just a few ways that local businesses are trying to survive: Loaning out fitness equipment for virtual classes, using distilleries to make hand sanitizer, making craft kits for bored kids, printing prototypes for engineers now working in garages. Tamara Chuang has a whole lot more — including how you can help these businesses stay afloat (and maybe get a workout or a growler of beer to boot). >> STORY
- LAWMAKERS AT WORK, EVEN WITH CAPITOL SHUTDOWN: State lawmakers are focusing on legislation to address the outbreak, including a pay raise for National Guard members after a Colorado Sun story revealed that some would earn just $1.67 an hour for their work. >> STORY
- NOTES FROM A CALIFORNIA HOSPITAL AND WHAT TO EXPECT: Kaiser Health News has a story from the front lines of one of the hotbeds of coronavirus spread and how Colorado hospitals can prepare. >> STORY
- OP-ED FROM A DENVER RESTAURATEUR: Jeff Osaka, owner of Osaka Ramen, Sushi-Rama and more, writes, “I’m the owner of seven Denver restaurants. Coronavirus just forced me to lay off 200 people.”
- OP-ED FROM LOCAL BUSINESS LEADER: Civic activist and former DaVita CEO Kent Thiry writes, “Small businesses cannot be overlooked in coronavirus response.”
TAKE A LITTLE BREAK
Lizzy Scully and Thad Ferrell paddle and fish on the Gunnison River in June 2018. (Steve Fassbinder, Special to The Colorado Sun)
Believe me, we here in the virtual newsroom of The Sun know that the coverage of coronavirus can be overwhelming. I mean, just look at that list of stories ^^! So we put together a dozen of our best and most interesting stories you may have missed — from chocolate makers to urban fishing to historic apples — and none of them have anything to do with infectious disease! You deserve a little rest, so dive into one (or all 12) of these stories over your next cup of brewed-at-home coffee. >> STORY
The Fun Stuff
JOHN FRANK’S BEER PICK
Right now, Colorado’s craft breweries are mostly shuttered, and the industry — which depends on crowds and socializing — is bracing for the worst. But not all hope is lost. Thanks to Craft Alley in Denver, you can still get beer from local breweries who don’t distribute. The company sells growlers and cans from small and independent breweries — and delivers. It’s also giving 10% of the proceeds back to breweries to help them through the tough time.
Coronavirus isn’t just what’s on everyone’s minds, it’s in the pens and brushes of our cartoonists.
// In “What’d I Miss?” writer R. Alan Brooks and artist Cori Redford will make you think twice if you’re considering the sudden cheap international flights. >> LINK
// Jim Morrissey prefers to look on the bright side, including the fact that for the first time some folks might actually remember what took place on St. Patrick’s Day. >> LINK
// And Drew Litton captures the threat to the ski industry posed by coronavirus in one perfectly conceived frame. >> LINK
Escapism is a great reason to read fiction, especially these days. The opening chapters of “The Blood of Seven,” the sci-fi/fantasy Colorado Book Awards finalist by Claire L. Fishback, will definitely take your mind off the here and now and tease you with the promise of a worlds-colliding tale that’s part thriller, part supernatural. In the SunLit interview, Fishback explains how such a book actually was born in a discussion about “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain.” Seriously.
The Colorado Report
THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE
// NURSES BREAK OUT SEWING MACHINES TO MAKE MASKS: One of the biggest coronavirus stories in the country is a shortage of protective gear for the people doing the most dangerous work to combat the outbreak. But two operating room nurses in Glenwood Springs realized that they could turn a material they had in abundance — operating room tablecloths — into masks that can be used to help stretch the hospital’s supply. // Glenwood Post-Independent
// COLORADO HOME TO RURAL COUNTIES WITH FEWEST BEDS PER CAPITA: High Country News took a big data set about hospital bed availability and focused on counties in the West, specifically rural counties. Among their findings: Custer County here in Colorado has the largest senior population in a county without any hospital beds in the West. // High Country News
// INFORMANT DESCRIBES LIFE INSIDE DENVER HELL’S ANGELS: Hey look, a big local feature story not about coronavirus! Sam Tabachnik has an engrossing tale of how one informant brought down a notorious chapter of the Hell’s Angels that operated in the Denver metro area. // The Denver Post 🔑
OK folks, this newsletter has been information dense and getting to the bottom of it is worth a hearty congratulations from me.
We’re thinking a lot about what you — our readers and neighbors — need most from us these days, and we want to hear from you. How can we help you stay informed and calm — without overwhelming you? Send us notes at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
Keep sharing good news, stay healthy, stay sane and try to enjoy this weekend! See you soon!