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The Sunriser

Sunriser: Colorado’s coronavirus data problem / Illegal(?) “locals only” closures / Stop calling 911 on your neighbors / Extra smelly, er, aromatic beer + more

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

Good morning! We’re entering Weekend No. 2 of large-scale isolation during this outbreak, and if it hadn’t already, this was the week things got very real for most people in the state.

So as the initial shock of disrupted routines, rhythms, jobs and just life starts to fade, it’s time to settle in for the long haul and remind yourself that we’re doing this for each other, not just because an authority figure told us to. 

We have a lot of vital news in today’s newsletter, but also a lot of fun stuff, too, because you can’t let yourself get totally lost in statistics and grim news. Sometimes you have to turn yourself into a butterfly in your living room (that will make sense when you get to The Colorado Report below).

So let’s emerge from this chrysalis already, shall we?

The Latest from The Sun

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

Coronavirus linked to at least 27 deaths, cases top 1,400

The latest map of the spread of Coronavirus in Colorado. Darker blue = more confirmed cases | Larger red dot = More deaths

At least 42 of 64

— Number of Colorado counties with positive coronavirus cases
 

  • LATEST COUNTS: Eight more deaths were confirmed to be linked to COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the total to 27, with El Paso County having the highest toll with seven deaths. >> STORY
  • COLORADO WILL TEST HEALTH CARE WORKERS: During a call with reporters, Colorado’s coronavirus response leaders said that the state will be able to test at least 5,000 health care workers soon to help keep them available for an anticipated surge of infected patients. >> STORY
  • “THOUSANDS” OF UNKNOWN CASES: Also in that call, they reiterated that a lack of testing in Colorado means that there are undoubtedly “thousands” of unknown cases around the state (more on that below).
  • NEW MAP: We’ve updated our map (it loads much faster now and is clearer to read) using state and county reports to compile the most complete visual look at the coronavirus spread. >> MAP
  • COUNTIES DROP STAY-AT-HOME FOR STATE ORDER: When Gov. Polis finally issued his statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday, several counties around the Denver metro area dropped theirs (though Denver’s remains in place). >> STORY 

IN-DEPTH

Colorado’s governor says he is using data to guide the state’s response to the coronavirus. But the numbers are incomplete.

David Storey processing samples for COVID-19 tests at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory Services Division in Denver on March 14, 2020. (Pool photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

“We will make that call based on the real data that we receive”

— Gov. Jared Polis, on when state-mandated isolation will end
 

“That lack of information has certainly made it more challenging to contain outbreaks throughout our state.”

— Scott Bookman, CDPHE’s incident commander for the coronavirus response
 

Everyone wants to know: When will this be over? When will Colorado (and the world) get out of their homes and back to a (somewhat normal) life? That answer depends, a lot, on data. John Ingold explains how a lack of testing — and some basic facts about this particular coronavirus — have left gaps in the equations that will give us some answers. This is a do-not-skip story, folks, and make sure to share it with anyone you know confused by what’s happening. >> STORY

Colorado’s coronavirus stay-at-home order raised a lot of questions. Don’t call 911 to ask them.

  • 🏃‍♀️ Yes, you can exercise outside.
  • 🐄 Yes, you can feed your livestock.
  • 👮‍♀️ Yes, cops will still be enforcing laws, this isn’t The Purge.
  • 🦠 No, you probably won’t get pulled over, but you should stay home anyway.

These answer some of the questions that have been pouring into the state’s 911 centers since Gov. Polis issued a stay-at-home order on Wednesday. The other most frequent call? People tattling on their neighbors for perceived violations. Moe Clark and Jen Brown have more from a long day for emergency operators. >> STORY

PSA: If you have questions about the order, use the state’s new !211! number to ask them and leave the emergency lines clear for actual emergencies.

And seriously, stay at home. Yeah, you probably won’t get arrested for violating the order, but the directive is there to preserve public health. Do it for your family, your neighbors and yourself.

Colorado is now under a stay-at-home order. But what about those without homes?

“In Denver, we need hundreds – I would say at least 800. And that number will change as the virus spreads in shelters and encampments. Statewide, we need thousands.”

Cathy Alderman, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, on the number of beds still needed for proper isolation.

It’s a simple question: If you’re supposed to go home and isolate to prevent the spread of coronavirus, what do you do if you have no home to go to? The state government hasn’t provided guidance to answer that question, so groups like Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Springs Rescue Mission in El Paso County are working to create “isolation” shelters that can follow public health guidelines while providing basic shelter. Moe Clark has more on efforts to reconfigure facilities and maybe even take over vacant motels. >> STORY

“Locals only” coronavirus closures of Colorado public land may not be legal. But mountain communities say it’s needed for safety.

“I will say, though, if you have yet to realize we are in unprecedented times, then you are either not paying attention or are a denier. The people sitting in this room cannot have that option. We cannot be deniers.”

San Juan County Sheriff Bruce Conrad 

Legal minds are pretty certain that orders like the one that “closed” San Juan County to non-locals wouldn’t hold up to a legal challenge, but the officials who issued them say it’s about safety, not enforcement. Jason Blevins explore how the high country — one of the hotbeds of the outbreak in Colorado — is getting serious about social distance. >> STORY

More coronavirus coverage

Click the chart above to see more historic unemployment data.

“I think a lot of job seekers who are getting laid off are thinking they have to wait this thing out, and that’s not necessarily the case. We do have job openings, and it might not be something that they thought they would be doing, but it can definitely fill the gap in the meantime.”

Curtis Englehart, director of the Mesa County Workforce Center 

  • COLORADO IS STILL HIRING: Essential businesses (and some work-from-home companies) are still hiring, despite the economic meltdown in Colorado. Tamara Chuang has more on where to find jobs, how the interview process is changing with social distancing and a list of resources if you’re out of a job. >> STORY
  • HOW YOUR POWER, INTERNET WILL STAY ON DURING THE OUTBREAK: Mark Jaffe explains how gas, power and broadband workers will use their companies’ pandemic plans to keep you comfortable during isolation. >> STORY

HIGHER EDUCATION

Colorado State campus struggles with increase in reports of racial bias incidents

A gallery member holds up his fist and records the speaker on his phone at the Associated Students of Colorado State University senate session Sept. 18, 2019, during a discussion of the blackface image that was circulating on social media last semester. (Forrest Czarnecki, The Collegian)

The Fort Collins campus of Colorado State University saw a string of racist incidents, including a crude noose, students in blackface and a spray-painted swastika. Last semester students began loudly pushing the administration for change. >> STORY

This story was produced by student journalists at The Rocky Mountain Collegian, Colorado State University’s student newspaper, with editorial assistance from The Colorado Sun.

AIR TRAVEL

>> FAA to implement new Denver-area flight paths despite protests 

The Fun Stuff

Beer, Books and Cartoons from Colorado

BEER

Hop terpenes are redefining brewing. And Colorado is one of the only places to taste the revolution.

Jaimie Rogan, a chemist at Isolate Labs, analyzes hop terpenes produced by sister company Oast House Oils at their shared facility in Lafayette. (John Frank, The Colorado Sun)

If you’ve ever crushed hops in your hands and experienced that burst of aroma, you’re experiencing the plant’s terpenes (the plant compounds that contribute to smell and taste are also pronounced in hops’ cousin cannabis). John Frank has a fascinating look at how Colorado brewers are using the compounds in experimental new ways. >> STORY

JOHN FRANK’S BEER PICK: Plenty of workplaces are offering virtual happy hours for their employees to connect during the state’s lockdown order. Denver Beer Co. trumps them all with a live virtual happy hour tasting. The brewers will talk about four different beers from the DBC and Cerveceria Colorado lineup at 4 p.m. Friday on Facebook and YouTube. Plan ahead and order the “happy hour pack” with all beers featured during the tasting, either to-go or for delivery.

“The reason liquor stores must be exempted is not that they meet somebody’s definition of ‘essential … [it’s] that history teaches us precisely how human beings will respond if they’re not.”

— Dave Krieger

>> OP-ED ON DENVER’S POT & BOOZE MISSTEP: Occasional columnist Dave Krieger has a thoughtful, contextual look at what happened when Denver announced cannabis and liquor stores would close for weeks to fight the outbreak — before quickly rescinding. >> COLUMN 

WRITE ON, COLORADO!

We’ve received so many interesting contributions to our Write on, Colorado! project, which shouldn’t have surprised us considering how smart readers of The Colorado Sun are ;). 

The latest entries are below — and you can see all the entries here — but if you’ve got something creative bubbling up in you during social isolation, send it to kevin@coloradosun.com (under 1,000 words and include your name, address, phone number and photo, please!).

MORE: Don’t forget to check out our photo essay showing how different parts of Colorado are dealing with the virus.

SUNLIT

With everything else that’s going on, you might have overlooked the upcoming tornado season. But for author Mark Pleiss, this time of year provides the tales, legends and myths that inform his collection of short stories, “Apri Warnings,” a series of interconnected meditations on the American Midwest. In this week’s SunLit excerpt, the ritual around taking refuge in an underground tornado shelter on the plains reveals secrets and family dynamics. In the author interview, we learn how Spanish literature, Tommy Lee Jones’ voice and the RTD’s Denver-Boulder route all influenced this collection that’s a 2020 Colorado Book Awards finalist.

CARTOONS

// Did you realize that yesterday would have been MLB Opening Day, aka the true beginning of spring for baseball diehards? Drew Litton sure did.

// In “What’d I Miss?” Ossie describes the feeling of being reduced to a “vibe” by people trying to relate to you.

The Colorado Report

The best journalism from in and around the state

“https://www.instagram.com/p/B-NUBmqFZWi/?igshid=1byogvnzxd73f][@mark.reis on Instagram

// TOP-NOTCH LIVING ROOM PERFORMANCE ART: It’s not exactly journalism to share, but photojournalist and Sun contributor Mark Reis shared one of the most impressive bits of self-isolation creativity I’ve seen — putting my pantry-improvised fish-tacos-a-la-“Chopped” to shame. I won’t spoil the ending, but make sure you watch to the end. >> @mark.reis on Instagram

// ANOTHER FRIEND WITH A CAMERA: The similarities between the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic are obvious. But do they look the same? Denver-based automotive reviewer Murilee Martin (yes, that is a pen name) has been taking a look. Check out his photo essay. >> Pandemic Denver 2020 Viewed Through Four 1918 Cameras

// NOT EXACTLY ITALIANS SINGING FROM BALCONIES: The Colorado Symphony has had to abandon its schedule through May 11, but the musicians still are performing. This week they got together and created a dispersed version of the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  >> YouTube

// HUMANE SOCIETY FINDS HOMES FOR EVERY SINGLE DOG AND CAT: Dogs are the best possible social isolation companion (cat people assure me that cats are pretty good, too) so it’s a little heart-swelling to read that the Pikes Peak Region Humane Society has, more than once, found homes for every animal in the shelter during this outbreak.  >> OutThere Colorado

// AN EMPTY DENVER FROM THE SKY: I was pretty happy with my shots of the rattlesnake-patterned pavers on the 16th Street Mall last weekend, but drone photographer Blake Rubenstein put my photos to shame with these photos (and video) of Union Station, Mile High Stadium, I-25 and more normally teeming spots, abandoned.  >> BusinessDen

// COLORADANS STUCK ABROAD >> State officials are scrambling to lend a hand to Coloradans who are stuck around the world amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Emil Ortiz and Ava Willions, both from Fort Collins, are currently stuck in Peru and asking for governmental assistance to get home. The Peruvian border will remain closed until April 12. >>> Colorado Public Radio

 


 

As we head into the weekend, remember that it’s OK to take a break from the new coronavirus. We have a dozen engrossing, non-infectious-disease stories that are perfect to get your mind off of everything for a few minutes.

But know that The Sun is (and will remain) working around the clock to bring you important stories about how COVID-19 is affecting Colorado and Coloradans. You can always reach out to us at tips@coloradosun.com if there’s something you think we need to be looking into. 

Stay inside. Stay smart. Be safe. And remember that someday (hopefully soon) this will all be over. See you back here Monday.

— Eric