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The Sunriser

Sunriser: “Prepper” time-share is booming / Urgent insurance window / Sports, church, prom & other rhythms / You’ll probably fight COVID at home

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

Good morning, folks, and welcome to a chilly, partly cloudy April Friday. I want to thank everyone who turned out for our first virtual Q&A with reporter Jesse Paul on Facebook last night (you can watch it, glitches and all, here). We’re going to iron out a few of the livestreaming bugs to do more of these chats on more platforms, so stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

And I really want to thank all of the brand new members (and all of our existing members) who have turned out to support the work we do at The Colorado Sun in the past weeks. We are humbled and grateful for every one of you as we lean into covering coronavirus and its long-term effects on the state.

IF YOU’RE NOT A MEMBER YET: It takes just a few clicks or taps and makes a world of difference. Head to coloradosun.com/join to help.

ALREADY A MEMBER? If you are financially stable and want to help support journalism even more, you can buy a gift membership for a friend/family member/neighbor by going to http://coloradosun.com/join and clicking “Gift a Subscription.” Or, head to coloradosun.com/pitchin to put in a one-time boost to your membership. 

OK, we have too much — from new numbers and moving looks at changing culture to a column about sex and coronavirus (yes, really) — to dilly-dally up here any longer.

So let’s enjoy this lovely day already, shall we? (RIP the great Bill Withers who was maybe the coolest dude to ever live, as evidenced by this video.) 

CORONAVIRUS IN COLORADO

MAJOR UPDATES

Deaths from COVID-19 in Colorado rise to 99, new (short) health insurance window and more

El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Hopkins. (Handout)
  • EIGHT EL PASO SHERIFF EMPLOYEES TEST POSITIVE: El Paso County’s Sheriff’s department has about 800 employees, and eight have tested positive for coronavirus, including Deputy Jeff Hopkins, 41, who died Wednesday from complications from the disease. >> STORY
  • WELD, EL PASO CONTINUE TO SEE MORE DEATHS: Weld and El Paso counties both have 16 deaths attributed to COVID-19 — significant because Weld has less than half the population than El Paso, which now is the state’s most populous county. See the latest numbers on our map. >> MAP
  • !IF YOU NEED INSURANCE THIS MONTH GET IT TODAY!: You have until the end of the day today to buy health insurance on Colorado’s exchange, because plans purchased after that date don’t kick in until May. John Ingold has more. >> STORY
  • SCHOOLS WILL REMAIN CLOSED: Gov. Polis extended his order closing schools until at least April 30, but hasn’t given a firm new end date for the general stay-at-home order. >> STORY
  • SUPREME COURT SAYS LEGISLATURE CAN EXTEND TERM: With uncertainty looming for when lawmakers can reconvene, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the term’s 120 days do not have to be consecutive in times of public crisis. >> STORY
    • OF NOTE: This Colorado Sun story, published the morning of the ruling, was cited by the court, which said it demonstrated the need to permit part-time citizen lawmakers to serve their communities during crisis.
  • SECOND WAVE OF RESTAURANT, HOTEL WORKERS HIT UNEMPLOYMENT: In three weeks, at least 121,328 workers have filed unemployment claims, with the wave of restaurant and hotel workers starting to hit. Tamara Chuang has more on the numbers and resources if you are out of work. >> STORY + CHART
  • EYE-POPPING NATIONWIDE NUMBERS: The unemployment numbers around the country are less of a spike and more of a skyscraper. 6.648 million claims last week alone, rolling the total to more than 10 million in the past two weeks. >> STORY @ NPR 
  • HOW TO GET STIMULUS FUNDS: Vox has a good explainer of what you need to do to get stimulus funds, whether you’re a worker, a business or on Social Security. >> EXPLAINER @ VOX  

IN-DEPTH

Coronavirus made us all “preppers.” And people who’ve been doing it for years aren’t saying “we told you so.”

Drew Miller wrote his dissertation at Harvard on underground nuclear defense shelters. (Provided by Drew Miller)

“Really, modern prepping is just responsible adulting.”

John Ramey of The Prepared

If you were looking at the 15-pound bag of rice in your grocery cart thinking “maybe those preppers were on to something,” you’re not alone. Jason Blevins wanders into the world of prepping as a business, including a vacation timeshare with Colorado locations that double as a place to bug out with your family — and why the community there is saying “welcome” instead of “we told you so.” >> STORY

Why are Colorado hospitals sending people with coronavirus home? Because there’s not much they can do.

Unless you need a ventilator to breathe, dialysis or a steady supply of extra oxygen, your immune system is as good as any tool that hospitals have to fight coronavirus. (As we wrote earlier, the race is on to find an antiviral that works on this virus, but right now there just isn’t one.) Jesse Paul has more on why getting turned away from the hospital without a test, even if you have symptoms, is safe and can save lives — but also what to watch for to know when it’s time to go to the ER. > >> STORY 

The coronavirus has made working in a Colorado grocery store harrowing

“Yesterday, one of the head clerks was in there and he was coughing and sick, and then I heard somebody else who works there be like, ‘I think I’m coming down with whatever it is you got.’ And I’m like, ‘Why is anybody here with anything?’”

“Amy,” an hourly grocery store worker in Fort Collins

From Jenny McCoy with The Colorado Trust, a collection of stories from the front lines of grocery store workers, whose officially “essential” labor puts them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 — as well as dealing with flippant or angry or paranoid customers. >> STORY

Colorado is releasing incarcerated kids early because of coronavirus

22 teens and young adults

That’s how many people have been released from Colorado’s juvenile detention facility to help stop the spread of coronavirus through the state’s facilities, and there are 320 more being evaluated for early parole. Jennifer Brown has more. >> STORY

LIFE AT A DISTANCE

The coronavirus has disrupted the rhythm of Coloradans’ daily life. That can leave uncomfortable voids.

Members of the choir at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver practice social distancing as they’re pre-recorded for Holy Week services that will appear online. (Provided by Noble Bison Productions)

I live close enough to St. John’s Cathedral in Denver that I used to hear the massive organ and choir practice if I took the dog out at just the right time. But the shutting of church doors — along with the sudden halt of live sports, a lack of a commute and the delay of majorly anticipated events like the Olympics —  has forced everyone to reckon with just how much of our daily lives were built on routines that reinforced social connections. Please take a few minutes today to read Kevin Simpson’s excellent look at how Coloradans are confronting those disruptions, and what they’re building in their place. >> STORY

Coronavirus stole their last months of high school in Colorado, and a long list of traditions

Bella Hathorne, a senior at Littleton High School, starred as Jo in the school’s production of Little Women. She will miss out on a spring choir concert and visiting colleges, as well as prom and a special walkout for graduating seniors that she has looked forward to for four years. (Photo provided by Hathorne family)

“We all were born after 9/11. We’ve sort of been along for the ride the whole time. We’ve all grown up in an era of fear and knowing that school is not the safest place for us. It’s not like the most traumatizing thing that’s ever happened to us.”

Bella Hathorne, a senior at Littleton High School 

I just turned 36 — I was a freshman during Columbine and a senior when 9/11 happened — and I have the utmost respect for the resilience of the kids who instead of prepping for prom and visiting colleges, are rolling with coronavirus. Erica Bruenlin and Jennifer Brown talked to some Colorado seniors about how they’re making memories — at a distance. >> STORY

MORE SCHOOL NEWS

  • TEACHER EVALUATIONS NOT REQUIRED: Colorado schools are required to evaluate every teacher every year, but this year Gov. Polis suspended that requirement. But that doesn’t mean all evaluations will stop. >> STORY via Chalkbeat Colorado
  • STATE SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES TO GET $300M: The federal stimulus package will also benefit Colorado’s schools. >> STORY via Chalkbeat Colorado
  • TWO SUICIDES AT AIR FORCE ACADEMY DURING DISTANCING: The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs will relax social distancing restrictions that some complained were “prison-like” after two cadet suicides. >> STORY via The Associated Press 

RIPPLE EFFECTS

Colorado oil and gas drillers’ hedges will keep cash flowing — for now — as prices remain in the basement

An international feud, a global pandemic and a halting domestic economy combined to plunge the price of a barrel of oil. But the biggest companies drilling in the Denver-Julesburg Basin “hedged” large portions of their production, which as Mark Jaffe explains, will keep them operating — for now. >> STORY

T.G.I.F.

Cartoons + Columns + Your essays on coronavirus life.

CARTOONS

// Drew Litton has an instantly iconic cartoon that should be included in Colorado history books about life in the state during this pandemic. >> CARTOON

// This week’s “What’d I Miss?” points out the big gap between the expectations for people and big corporations (with a bonus bit on Denver’s alcohol and pot habits). >> CARTOON

// The way Jim Morrissey drew the hiker in this piece is a pretty great representation of how I think we all feel lately. >> CARTOON

BOOK LOVERS, NOTE: The SunLit feature will now appear on Saturday. This week, don’t miss an excerpt from Carter Wilson’s thriller, “The Dead Woman in 2A” as well as a Q&A with the author.

WRITE ON, COLORADO!

See all of our readers’ awesome essays, songs and poems, plus instructions on how to submit your own, at coloradosun.com/writeon

OPINION

The Colorado Report

THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE

// LEARN A NEW SKILL WHILE YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME: The Denver Public Library has a new online learning platform called Udemy that has 4,000 courses. I’ve personally used Udemy to learn some web development skills that I’ve put to work on The Sun, so this is great news. >> Westword

// STERLING’S ATTEMPT TO STOP A CENSUS UNDERCOUNT: It’s already hard to get a true census count in more rural areas like Sterling, but COVID-19 is making it rougher. >> KUNC

// WHY IT’S MUCH TOUGHER TO BE A RENTER THAN A HOMEOWNER: While there are millions of newly jobless people in America, this NPR piece demonstrates the undeniable ways that renting is much more precarious than owning (mainly, you can defer mortgage payments and just tack them on to the end of your loan — something not available to renters).  >> NPR

// “TOTAL LOSS” AT ICONIC ADAMS COUNTY COFFEE ROASTER: This is a bummer. When I worked at The Denver Post’s printing plant newsroom, it was always a treat to head up the road to get a latte and a bag of super-freshly roasted Denver Blend beans from the Boyer’s coffee plant. A fire destroyed the roasting facility and the schoolhouse-turned-coffee shop on Tuesday, and while there are plans to rebuild, there’s no timeline. >> 9News

// JUST A REALLY SPECTACULAR NEWS PHOTO: The Post’s RJ Sangosti is one of the best photojournalists in the country, and I can’t stop thinking about his photo of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center. >> @rjsangosti on Instagram

// LISTEN TO SOME NATURE SOUNDS, IT HELPS: If you’re getting a little cabin fever — especially with yesterday’s snow storm and cool down limiting your walk time — pop this 10-hour loop of forest sounds on your headphones for a bit. It was the soundtrack to me writing this newsletter and it’s very calming. >> YouTube

// GOOD NEWS! ABOVE-AVERAGE SNOWPACK: Colorado’s water storage is looking good after a winter full of snow. >> Coloradoan

 


 

Thanks for spending another busy week with us at The Sun and getting to the bottom of this Sunriser. We’re hard at work on how we can help Coloradans understand how things are changing in the short- and long terms, and we would love to hear from you.

If you have any data, explainers, guides or stories that you want us to focus on, send us a tip at tips@coloradosun.com or, if you want to share sensitive information, we’re on encrypted Signal/Whatsapp at (720) 263-2338.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay engaged, folks. Have a good weekend!

— Eric