Good morning, folks, and welcome to another Wednesday that seems increasingly distant from the world we knew last Wednesday.
While there was some progress made on a stimulus bill last night in the Senate, the lack of a meaningful path forward at the national level has made the actions of city, county and state leaders all the more important to the lives of millions of Coloradans. Cities and counties are increasingly under shelter-in-place orders, including here in Denver and local hospitals and nonprofits are bracing for a wave of illness — not to mention the ripple effects of a slowing economy.
And local journalists like my colleagues here at The Sun are working around the clock (while keeping socially distant) to make sure you stay informed. If you haven’t already and can afford to do so, please consider becoming a member of The Sun for just $5/month (or more if you can spare it) and supporting whatever other local journalism you’re relying on these days.
And if you can’t afford it right now, just sharing our work helps keep Colorado in the know during a vital time.
OK, we have so much of that news to get to, so let’s hold this plank already shall we? (<< that link has some great homebound exercise routines that can help you stay active)
The Latest from The Sun
CORONAVIRUS MAJOR UPDATES
917 cases, 12 deaths
- MAP: New numbers show nearly 1,000 people in Colorado have tested positive — or as the state now says, are considered positive because they show symptoms and have had close contact with someone who tested positive. >> LINK
- OVER-60s ACCOUNT FOR MOST SEVERE CASES: There have been at least 12 deaths connected to COVID-19 in Colorado, including two in Denver announced yesterday. And while the majority of the state’s hospitalizations and deaths have been among people over 60 — and that group should take special precaution — this analysis by Kaiser Health News shows that it’s affecting every age group. >> STORY
- DENVER SHELTERS IN PLACE, OTHER COUNTIES FOLLOW: Denver announced a shelter-in-place order on Monday — initially inspiring a massive run on alcohol and marijuana stores — and other counties including Boulder, Arapahoe, Adams, Douglas and Pitkin (home of Aspen) — are following suit. Jesse Paul has more on what the rules mean and why some residents are urging Gov. Polis to make an order for the whole state. >> STORY
If it gets bad, Colorado doctors have a plan for who gets lifesaving coronavirus treatment — and who doesn’t
“If we get hit that hard, we are going to have some very difficult decisions to make. And we can’t wait until then to get ready for that. So at this point, our philosophy is that it would be irresponsible not to plan right now for a huge surge of patients.”
Dr. Matthew Wynia, the director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
One look at the situation in Italy tells you how bad an unchecked COVID-19 outbreak can be. While Colorado is increasingly enforcing social distancing measures, if they fail, the state’s hospitals could face the same situation in a matter of weeks. So doctors are finalizing the state’s crisis standards of care plan, which would formalize how doctors will make triage decisions. This is grim stuff, but it’s an absolutely essential read from John Ingold (and send it to anyone you know who still isn’t taking this seriously). >> STORY
+ MOST DOCTORS, NURSES PREPPING FOR AN ALL-HANDS-ON-DECK FIGHT: Hospitals around Colorado are working to train and shuffle doctors and nurses who normally work in fields far from infectious disease to pitch in for what is expected to be a wave of cases. Jesse Paul has details on the massive, hasty realignment of the American healthcare system. >> STORY
“With self-isolation, with financial hardship, with amplified power dynamics, we are getting ready to see a rise in violence.”
— Angela Ceseña, the executive director of Latina SafeHouse in Denver
From Tina Griego at The Colorado Independent: Nonprofits that serve victims of domestic violence are working overtime and stretching budgets to prepare for an anticipated wave of women and children who will be afraid and in danger as most of Colorado retreats behind closed doors. Take a minute to read this story and learn how you can help. >> STORY
“We’re going to come back to the legislature at some point this year to do more work. The question is: Is it technically this session or is it a special session?”
— State Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg
The state legislature screeched to a halt on March 14, with plans to reconvene on Monday. But the 11 days that have passed since then made it abundantly clear that asking lawmakers to return would be a bad idea. With the constitutionally mandated 120-day clock ticking and major legislation still yet to be decided — including “the long bill” aka the state budget — what is the path forward? John Frank and Jesse Paul break down the situation. >> STORY
+ ONE LAWMAKER TESTS POSITIVE, ANOTHER’S DIAGNOSIS REVERSED: State Sen. Jim Smallwood, R-Parker, has tested positive for the virus and is isolated at his second home in California until March 30. Meanwhile, State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet — initially reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 — was misdiagnosed and actually tested positive for a different coronavirus.
From education reporter Erica Breunlin: “It was almost like putting together a puzzle, one with about 1,700 pieces. What started as a broad-based effort to ensure Colorado’s essential workers have access to child care while battling the new coronavirus ended with a system that placed 1,700 kids into the hands of licensed providers statewide — all within the span of a week.” Read more on how philanthropy, state efforts and school districts came together to take care of kids. >> STORY
CRIME & JUSTICE
It’s official: Polis signs bill abolishing Colorado’s death penalty, commutes sentences of state’s 3 death row inmates
“Commutations are typically granted to reflect evidence of extraordinary change in the offender. That is not why I am commuting these sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole.<br><br>Rather, the commutations of these despicable and guilty individuals are consistent with the abolition of the death penalty in the state of Colorado, and consistent with the recognition that the death penalty cannot be, and never has been, administered equitably in the state of Colorado.”
— Gov. Jared Polis in a written statement about his commutation.
After a relatively long delay between the passage of a bill abolishing Colorado’s death penalty and its signing, Colorado has become the 22nd state to end the use of capital punishment. The governor had been quiet about his plans for Colorado’s three death row inmates, and the commutations earned criticism from, among others, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, whose office handled the prosecution of all three. John Ingold and Jesse Paul have more. >> STORY
Wyoming coal interests funneled money, experts through Independence Institute to try to stop partial shutdown of Pueblo plant
Mark Jaffe has a fascinating story of how money that started with coal companies and the Wyoming state government worked its way through a series of entities — including Colorado-based libertarian group Independence Institute — to fund a group of “small business” customers who tried (unsuccessfully) to prevent the shutdown of some of Pueblo’s Comanche Station’s coal-hungry units. >> STORY
Panhandlers in Denver make an average of $10 per hour, on par with minimum wage. Dogs help, kids not so much.
Most panhandlers on the 16th Street Mall are young white men, and most people give them $1 or $5 bills, not coins. And kids are likely to inspire scolding, while dogs inspire sympathy. These are all observations from the (admittedly pre-coronavirus) study by a University of Colorado instructor in 2018. Jennifer Brown has more results from the study. >> STORY
WRITE ON, COLORADO
From zombies to disaster prep, Colorado authors and readers like you share their pandemic thoughts
We’re getting a great response to our Write On, Colorado program, where we’re asking Colorado writers, thinkers and readers — really anyone — to share their thoughts on life during a pandemic.
Check coloradosun.com/writeon for the latest postings, and if you want to submit, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your submission (under 1,000 words, please) plus your name, address, phone number and a photo.
- Author Laura Pritchett: “In these trying times, change is hard. Writing helps.”
- Poet and writer Karen Auvinen: “I’ve fled many Colorado disasters. Now, with coronavirus, I find myself preparing instead to stay home.”
- Regis professor and zombie ethics expert Bryan Hall: “What a zombie apocalypse, plus Aristotle, can teach us about friendship in the time of coronavirus”
The Colorado Report
THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE
// SKI AREAS GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT GATHERINGS: Loveland is the latest ski area to close uphill access after posts on Facebook and Twitter showed large groups of people very much not six feet apart in the parking lot last weekend. If you think this a harsh reaction, read the next story in this list. >> Summit Daily
// THIS IS HOW BAD COVID-19 COULD GET IN COLORADO: Think social distancing is an overreaction? Data scientists paired up with epidemiologists to show that if Colorado did nothing, hospitals would reach capacity next week, but if we commit to shelter in place for three months, they would never reach capacity. >> 9NEWS
// LISTEN TO A MIGHTY PIPE ORGAN TO TAKE YOUR MIND OFF A VIRUS: I can’t begin to tell you how nice it was to read David Gilbert’s piece in the Littleton Independent about the amazing pipe organs in operation in the metro area. And not just because it had nothing to do with coronavirus! Don’t miss the video of one in action (and if you live in the south suburbs, please consider supporting one of the Colorado Community Media papers near you). >> Littleton Independent
// HOW TV NEWS IS ADJUSTING TO HOMELIFE: KWGN meteorologist Matt Makens posted a photo of his pretty sophisticated home office setup for his weather forecasts. He is proof that lighting is everything, whether you’re FaceTiming your family or delivering a weather report. >> @MattMakens on Twitter
// SPORTS BETTING WILL BE LEGAL … WITHOUT MUCH TO BET ON: Westword looks at how the once-excited Colorado gaming community is dealing with the lack of sports to bet on — including a rise of bets on things like video games, simulated horse racing and even the weather. >> Westword
// IS COVID THE THING THAT FINALLY SLOWS DENVER CONSTRUCTION? Construction workers are considered “essential” according to the city’s shelter-in-place orders, but as David Sachs writes, all that construction is dependent on the rest of the economy. >> Denverite
OK, thanks for sticking with us through another packed Sunriser. We are right here in it with you, so as always let us know what you as a Coloradan want from us as a news outlet. Send us a note at email@example.com or story tips at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you have sensitive information to share? We have secure messaging at email@example.com or via Signal/Whatsapp (search 720-263-2338).
Stay healthy and we’ll see you back here Friday.