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The Sunriser

Sunriser: Investigating nursing home coronavirus deaths / Planning for who gets care, who doesn’t / PPE holdup + much more

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

Ron Rod, a Durango MakerLab member, wears a prototype of a powered air-purifying respirator the lab designed and put into production Tuesday at Fort Lewis College. The hood is constructed from an exterior house-wrap material purchased from The Home Depot. (Jerry McBride, The Durango Herald)

Hello and good morning, folks. In case you weren’t quite sure, it is, in fact, Monday morning. How was your weekend? Did you spend it in line outside a grocery store like it was a hot night club or making your own facemask (with or without sewing) or getting creative with your pantry? No matter how you spent it, I hope you either got some much-needed rest from your job if you’re still working or figured out how to make it feel a little special if you’re on pause.

The Sun had a busy weekend, including publishing a major investigation into Colorado’s nursing homes, so let’s just cut to the chase.

Let’s sew buttons on this headband, shall we?

Layoffs and furloughs are hitting local news in Colorado and around the country. If you and your family are stable, you can help keep news flowing when it’s needed most by becoming a member of The Colorado Sun for as little as $5 a month. Click here to show your support.

CORONAVIRUS IN COLORADO

MAJOR UPDATES

Wear a mask; Deaths in Colorado hit 140; cases near 5,000

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks to reporters while wearing a mask in Centennial on Friday, April 3, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
  • AT LEAST 28 NEW DEATHS OVER THE WEEKEND: El Paso and Weld counties are now each reporting more than 20 deaths. Jefferson and Denver counties are close behind with more than 15 deaths each. >> STORY
  • MAP: While the urban counties continue to see the most deaths, looking at our map, you can see that the number of deaths has started to move into rural areas like Montezuma and Garfield counties. >> MAP
  • WEAR A MASK: Gov. Jared Polis has asked all Coloradans to wear cloth-based masks when they leave home. Why? Mostly to protect other people in case you’re a carrier, but also to block large infected particles. Here are guidelines (including the fact that you need to wash your hands immediately after and wash your mask). >> STORY
  • WORKER IN STATE’S EMERGENCY CENTER TESTS POSITIVE: A worker in the space where Gov. Polis briefs members of the media tested positive for coronavirus, but emergency staff said the worker did not interact with the governor or media. >> STORY
  • LARGE DISTRICTS CANCEL IN-PERSON SCHOOL: For the rest of the year, Denver, Jeffco, Douglas County, Cherry Creek, Aurora and most other urban districts have canceled in-person learning through the end of the year. >> STORY

INVESTIGATION

Deaths of at least 32 Colorado nursing home, senior living center residents linked to coronavirus

Emergency personnel from South Metro Fire Rescue transfer a patient into an ambulance at Libby Bortz Assisted Living Center in Littleton on Friday, April 3, 2020. South Metro ambulance crews now wear personal protective equipment to every call as a precaution against the coronavirus, a spokeswoman said. There have been four coronavirus-related deaths at Libby Bortz. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

In one senior care facility in Greeley alone, at least six people have died of COVID-19 complications. And a major investigation by The Colorado Sun revealed that nearly one-third of the state’s deaths through Friday were among residents of nursing homes and senior centers. Jesse Paul, Jennifer Brown and John Ingold have more, including how they found these numbers and why there could be many more unreported fatalities. >> STORY

IN-DEPTH

Colorado unveils plan for how doctors will decide who receives life-saving coronavirus treatment — and who doesn’t

From John Ingold’s story, which includes some explanation of the new standards:

Here’s a hypothetical scenario that, very soon, may not be hypothetical at all in Colorado: Two patients arrive at a hospital emergency room, both gravely sick from the new coronavirus, both needing a critical-care bed. 

But, in the crush of patients, there’s only one bed available. So, who gets it?

On Sunday, a special committee of Colorado doctors and public health experts unveiled their plan for how hospitals will make that decision as they fill up with patients suffering from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. >> STORY

Colorado’s efforts to scale up PPE production are being tangled in federal red tape, certification process

Jason Wagner, Fort Lewis College engineering and physics shop manager, operates the college’s water jet cutter using 50,000 pounds of pressure to cut plastic face shields and hoods for the powered air-purifying respirator the MakerLab designed and put into production Tuesday. (Jerry McBride. The Durango Herald)

It’s no secret — personal protective equipment is the most valuable resource for front line workers. And as supply chains get muddled with federal intervention, Colorado manufacturers and makers are trying to make what we can. Moe Clark has the story on who is already working, where the shortages are and why regulations are keeping some of the new materials out of the hands of those who need them. >> STORY

How the closure of two Vail restaurants shows coronavirus’ domino effect on the food-service economy

Fourth generation Eagle County rancher Mike Eaton visits a newborn calf on April 3, 2020, at his ranch in Edwards. Eaton believes he will lose one third of his income this year because he won’t be able to supply beef to restaurants that are closed due to the virus. (Matt Stensland, Special to The Colorado Sun)

“We are OK for a while, but I’m not sure who can hang on for four months or six months or whatever.”

Matt Morgan, owner of the Sweet Basil and Mountain Standard restaurants in Vail Village
 

The coronavirus pandemic is exposing not just shortcomings in America’s health care system, but also just how deeply interdependent the different parts of Colorado’s economy are. Jason Blevins has a deep look at Vail Village and how agriculture, tourism, dining and more are cross-connected — and what people fear about an extended shutdown. >> STORY

MORE STORIES

“If it gets into the prison systems, I don’t know how they’re going to control it.”

Becky Trammell, Ph.D., associate dean of Metropolitan State University
 

  • “PIECEMEAL” CORONAVIRUS APPROACH IN JAIL: From The Colorado Trust: There are about 20,000 adult prison inmates in Colorado (1/5th of them older than 60). Daliah Singer has more on the lack of a blanket guidance on how to prevent infection. >> STORY  
  • NEW POLICIES TO PROTECT GRADES FOR STUDENTS: Some students are struggling with online learning, so districts are working to make sure that GPAs don’t crash this semester. Erica Breunlin has more. >> STORY
  • CLOCK TICKING FOR CITIZEN BALLOT MEASURES: There isn’t much time left to get ballot measures on the November ballot, but gathering signatures isn’t exactly feasible during coronavirus. John Frank has more on what the rules say. >> STORY

NON-CORONAVIRUS NEWS

  • ABORTION-LIMITING MEASURE FALLS SHORT — FOR NOW: The group pushing a proposal to ban abortions after 22 weeks doesn’t have enough signatures to get on the ballot, but has time to get more. >> STORY
  • AUTHORITIES ACCUSE STEPMOM OF LYING IN 11-YEAR-OLD BOY’S DEATH: A new court document shows that authorities believe Letecia Stauch killed her stepson Gannon Stauch and then concocted a variety of stories to mislead investigators. >> STORY

The Opinion Page

Columns from around the state.

WRITE ON, COLORADO

Stories, thoughts and essays from authors, thinkers and readers like you.

Head to coloradosun.com/writeon to see all of our Write On entries and get instructions on how to submit your own.

The Colorado Report

THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE

COLORADO

// “Big T” aka Rev. Terrance Hughes, the Denver pastor who contracted COVID-19, is still fighting for his life, according to The Colorado Independent, but doctors hope to wean him off a ventilator this week.  >> The Colorado Independent

// A Denver-based hedge fund shorted the stock market just before it’s historic plunge and saw 40% gains, in shades of “The Big Short.” >> Business Insider

// DID YOU KNOW that Coors has a well-regarded ceramics business in addition to beer? Coorstek, which helped the brewery stay afloat during Prohibition, is now working to create parts for ventilators. >> 9News

// Faced with shortages of some basics like flour and oats in Grand Junction’s supermarkets, shops like Main Street Bagels are now selling their bulk items directly to consumers (along with their bagel sandwiches). >> CPR News

// Denver has closed down some streets to allow for more space for cyclists and pedestrians to socially distance, and RTD has suspended all fare collection and is letting passengers load via the rear doors to protect drivers. >> Denverite, CPR News

// The federal government is intervening and outbidding states like Colorado which have secured their own ventilator supplies — even as the Trump administration is telling states they are “on their own” for supplies. >> The Denver Post

THE WEST & BEYOND

// Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, said last week that the federal stockpile of ventilators was “our stockpile” (meaning the federal government’s) and not for states, contradicting the stated purpose of the Strategic National Stockpile. In a turn straight out of Orwell, language on the stockpile’s website was changed to match Kushner’s statements. >> Vox

// This is a really good investigation into how the Trump administration, the CDC and other institutions wasted time or just plain failed to act during the crucial first months of the pandemic. >> The Washington Post

// As stay-at-home orders become the norm around the country, an analysis of location data shows that the ability to stay at home and practice baking or setting up a home office is a luxury not available to the country’s poorest citizens. >> The New York Times

 


 

We know these are confusing times. If you ever have a question or want to reach out with a tip, send us an email to newsroom@coloradosun.com. Readers can be our best eyes and ears as to what’s happening in communities across Colorado. 

Stay inside. Stay sane. Stay safe. 

See you on Wednesday.

— Eric