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The Sunriser

Sunriser: Inside a Colorado coronavirus ward / No stay-at-home order / Keeping sane / Scrutiny for oil & gas tax breaks / + much more

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

A lone pedestrian hustles across Broadway near the normally bustling Civic Center Station in downtown Denver on March 21, 2020. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Compiled by Eric Lubbers, eric@coloradosun.com
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax

Good morning, Colorado! There was nothing normal about this weekend, just like there’s going to be nothing normal about this week and the many following it. And it’s OK to acknowledge just how abnormal things are.

A few days ago I walked a couple of blocks from my self-isolation HQ to the Sun’s newsroom downtown to pick up some supplies. This photo I took from the balcony hit me hard, but not in the way you might think.

 

A lone pedestrian hustles across Broadway near the normally bustling Civic Center Station in downtown Denver on March 21, 2020. See more photos from around Colorado here. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

 

That loneliness and solitude made my heart swell: it means that people are getting the message and coming together to sacrifice for the health of our community, state, country and world. We’re not where we need to be yet, and it’s not going to be easy, but the fact that so many people are hearing the message and responding accordingly is a good sign.

If you are holding out skepticism that all of this might be overblown or that things are too drastic, make sure you read through today’s newsletter. From the front lines of Colorado’s health care workforce to reports from New York, Washington state and Italy, this is something our global society has not faced in generations. We can beat it, we will beat it, but it’s going to take everyone to limit the damage.

(Don’t worry, this newsletter isn’t all this serious).Let’s cook some meals that make good leftovers already, shall we?

 

The Latest from The Sun

 

 

CORONAVIRUS

 

UPDATES

600+ cases, 7 deaths
 
  • MAP: Colorado’s confirmed cases of coronavirus crossed 600 over the weekend, though the true number is likely much higher because tests are being rationed and some symptomatic people are self-isolating without being tested. See the confirmations on our map. >> LINK
  • NEW DEATHS: The number of Colorado deaths has risen to seven, including the second elderly Weld County resident to succumb.  >> STORY
  • GOVERNOR ASKS, NOT TELLS, PEOPLE TO STAY HOME: Go. Jared Polis said Sunday that he thinks Coloradans will heed his warnings and avoid going out into public out of fear of the “Grim Reaper” and that a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home mandate is not the right approach. Meanwhile, he unveiled his latest executive order directing businesses to drop in-person workforces by at least 50%. >> STORY 
  • POLIS ALSO ASKS LANDLORDS TO BE LENIENT: On Friday afternoon, Polis also asked landlords and banks to forgo evictions, late fees and other penalties for housing bills — but stopped short of making it an order. >> STORY
  • UNEMPLOYMENT SITE HIT BY 180,000 ATTEMPTS: The web portal for Coloradans to file for unemployment was hit by 180,000 attempts to file last week (up from 7,000 the week before), causing long delays as the state urgently works to upgrade its systems. >> STORY
  • GUARDSMAN TESTS POSITIVE: A Douglas County National Guard soldier deployed as part of the state’s coronavirus response has tested positive for the disease, but it was determined that he was exposed from previous travel. Nevertheless, he deployed to at least two testing sites and 15 other soldiers are now in quarantine. >> STORY
  • STRICKEN CRUISE SHIP PASSENGERS RETURN: 39 Coloradans who were on the Grand Princess cruise ship that was struck by the virus are back in Colorado and isolated, while two more who were symptomatic are being held on a military base in California. >> STORY

 


 

IN-DEPTH

Inside a Colorado coronavirus ward: The frightening reality for doctors as first cases arrive

 

Denver Health medical professionals took a break from work in the COVID-19 ward to take a selfie last week. They are, from left to right, physician assistants Janice Van Bockern and Becky Gallardo, Dr. Lilia Cervantes, and Dr. David Mintzer. (Photo provided by Lilia Cervantes)

 
“It scares me that at the end of all this we all might know two or three people that died from this. That makes me really sad.”

— Dr. Lilia Cervantes, working in the COVID-19 ward at Denver Health
 

This is the story you need to read today: This is how one doctor is experiencing the surge in coronavirus cases, from seeing the disease firsthand, the looming shortages of supplies and the heartbreaking distance they have to maintain from their own families — FaceTiming to dinner with their kids from their bedroom — and more. >> STORY  

 

Colorado child care centers fear for their survival as coronavirus brings closures, enrollment dips

Child care was already an expensive resource in Colorado before the pandemic, but as more centers close and kids are pulled out to stay at home, the people providing this vital care are worried that their businesses may not make it long enough to be there to help the state recover. >> STORY

 

Man who delighted Vail apres-ski crowds for decades dies from coronavirus

From the Vail Daily, remembering Rod Powell, a fixture in Vail’s music scene who died over the weekend from COVID-19 complications. >> STORY

 

There are ICU beds in only 19 of Colorado’s 64 counties

Kaiser Health News analyzed the location of America’s intensive care hospital beds, and found that some Colorado counties have large at-risk populations but not necessarily the ability to care for them if they become seriously ill. >> STORY

 


 

LIFE AT A DISTANCE

Social distancing could drag on for months in Colorado. How will we stay sane?

 

Cindy Kroeger, Brian Kraus and their son Oliver Kraus, 6, look at a bird in Red Fox Meadows Natural Area in Fort Collins on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (Valerie Mosley, Special to the Colorado Sun)

 
“Any time a family is stuck together for a prolonged period of time, the upside is you’ve got each other. The downside is cabin fever will set in. So what do you do?”

— Vincent Atchity, CEO of Mental Health Colorado
 

We’re headed for a prolonged period of being stuck inside with your family, roommates or by yourself. Each one of those comes with benefits and some major potential problems, from getting on each other’s nerves to more serious things like an uptick in abuse and neglect. Take a little time to check in here. >> STORY

 

Hard work made Greeley’s downtown hip and happening. Two months of social distancing could make it all disappear.

 

People drink and talk at WeldWerks Brewery, in downtown Greeley in this 2018 file photo. (Josh Polson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

 

Right as Greeley had transformed its downtown to become the most vibrant it had been in decades, the shutdown of social life could take it all away to save lives. Dan England has a dispatch from Northern Colorado. >> STORY

 

Early closure of ski resorts triggers “feeding frenzy” for uphill touring and backcountry ski equipment

A pair of skiers skin uphill at Loveland Ski Area on Friday, March, 20, 2020, near Georgetown. (Hugh Carey, Special to The Colorado Sun)

“Given that there is no terrain risk mitigation and no ski patrol currently at our resorts, uphill traffic is unsafe for skiers and riders, those sledding and first-responders.”

— Ryan Huff, a spokesman for Vail Resorts
 

Getting out to the backcountry seems like the perfect way to maintain both your distance and sanity, but officials with resorts and search and rescue couldn’t be clearer: Doing so is a massive risk. >> STORY

  • SAN JUAN GOES “LOCALS ONLY”: From the Durango Herald, San Juan County is limiting traffic on U.S. 550 to drive-through traffic and local vehicles only. >> STORY

 

Today’s “Life in Isolation” tip + A new occasional newsletter

THE TIP: A lot of recipes you’ll be cooking at home require citrus of some kind, and while a big bag of lemons or limes can save you money, they can also dry out before you get a chance to use them. So juice them! Dust off the fancy juicer you told yourself you were going to use every day (talking to myself here) or pick up a simple twist juicer on your next grocery store trip and spend a few minutes zesting and juicing the whole bag of fruit into whatever bottle/jar you have handy, ready for sprinkling on homemade tacos or to brighten up your pasta sauce.

SIGN UP FOR MORE NEWS, HOMEBOUND LIFESTYLE TIPS AND DIGITAL GATHERINGS: Jump over to this page and check the box for “Coronavirus in Colorado” to get occasional updates with tips like that one, invitations to online gatherings hosted by The Sun and important news alerts.

 


 

NONVIRAL NEWS

Colorado scrutinizes oil and gas tax breaks as severance taxes drop and the state budget gets tight

  

From reporter Brian Eason: “This year, an oil and gas tax break is expected to grow so large — and gas prices drop so low — that many of Colorado’s oil wells would owe the state $0 in severance taxes.

Consider it the $308 million elephant in the room as Colorado lawmakers reassess the state’s crumbling fiscal picture amid the new coronavirus outbreak.”  >> STORY

 

>> Remains of Gannon Stauch, missing El Paso County boy, found in Florida

 

From the Opinion Page

 

WRITE ON, COLORADO: Faced with a prolonged period of isolation, Colorado authors, thinkers and readers like you are contributing to a project The Sun is calling “Write On, Colorado.” Read more about the project here and check out our first entry from author Laura Pritchett: “In these trying times, change is hard. Writing helps.

 

The Colorado Report

THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE

 

// JOBS ARE AVAILABLE, EVEN AS GOV ORDERS REDUCTIONS: The jobs available in Colorado right now as thousands flood the unemployment office are exactly what you’d expect: grocery stores, delivery services and, of course, Amazon. To keep some of those workers a little safer, Safeway is installing sneeze guards for cashiers.  // CBS4

// HI-DIVE GETTING CREATIVE TO SAVE VENUE: I spent a large portion of the past decade inside the walls of the hi-dive on South Broadway, and as one of the last independent music venues in Denver, it doesn’t have a corporate parent to help it weather the coronavirus storm. So it’s selling a $50 credit for future shows now to raise cash to keep itself afloat. // 303 Magazine

// PUBLIC HALFWAY HOUSE COULD BE ON THE WAY: Halfway houses are meant to be places for individuals to get back on their feet and transition back to society from the criminal justice system. But it doesn’t always happen that way. Criminal justice advocates hope to open a public halfway house in Denver with a focus on rehabilitation and not corporate profits after the city’s much publicized split from GEO Group last year. // Denverite

OK, that was, once again, a very intense newsletter to kick off your week. Hopefully wherever you’re at, you’re keeping your distance, washing your hands and helping out wherever you can.

Don’t forget to share The Sunriser and Colorado Sun stories with your friends and neighbors! They can sign up at http://coloradosun.com/newsletters any time for free.

Stay healthy and we’ll see you back here on Wednesday.

— Eric