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The Sunriser

The day skiing died / Flood of evictions / The Sun answers your COVID questions / A rapid telehealth revolution / Coronavirus misinformation / + more

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

Skiers take some final laps during night skiing Saturday, March 14, 2020, at Steamboat Resort in Steamboat Springs. The resort's parent company Alterra Mountain Co. announced just hours earlier that they would close for a week starting March 15. The announcement came about 30 minutes after Vail Resorts announced they would also be closing their resorts. (Matt Stensland, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Happy Tax Day April 15, folks. I’m still stuck on yesterday, April 14, which songwriter Gillian Welch dubbed “Ruination Day” once she realized the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the sinking of the Titanic and the “Black Sunday” storm that kicked off the Dust Bowl all happened on the same date (this is a great interview about it, via Luke O’Neill’s excellent newsletter).

All of this is to say that we’ve been through some stuff as a nation before. And that it’s worth it to fight back against the feelings of melancholy that might be lapping against your ship these days so that you can help make sure we make it past this.

I wish I could say that this newsletter is full of great news and easy answers, but that’s not the stage of things we’re in right now. Right now we’re in the “everyone do your part while we try to figure out how to move forward” part of the arc, and that requires confronting a lot of uncomfortable facts.

Here at The Sun, we basically haven’t stopped working for the past month to make sure that Colorado is as informed as possible, and I don’t see a world in which we stop any time soon (though, like all local news right now, we need the help of everyone who can afford it).

So get your game face on and let’s debunk some misinformation, shall we? (more on that below)

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Do you have questions about coronavirus, the stimulus or anything else happening in Colorado? Head over to The Colorado Sun’s Facebook page for a live Q&A with our reporters tonight at 8 p.m. You can drop your questions there or send them to questions@coloradosun.com any time.

The News

The latest from The Sun

THE NUMBERS

370 discharges

  • UCHEALTH ANNOUNCES DISCHARGE NUMBERS: One of the big missing pieces in the state’s data — how many people with COVID-19 have been discharged — was revealed by one hospital system, but the statewide number is still unknown. >> STORY

329 deaths

  • DEATHS RISE, HOSPITAL VOLUMES FLATTEN: The latest numbers released by the state show that the curve of hospitalizations is flattening. That doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods by any stretch, but it’s one sign that social distancing is having an effect. >> STORY

At least 96 deaths

  • POLIS EXPLORING NURSING HOME PROTECTIONS: Nearly 100 of the COVID-19-related deaths in Colorado came from nursing homes and senior care centers — as reported by The Sun — and the governor said he’s exploring additional actions, but didn’t say what they’d be. >> STORY

$5.8 billion in loans

  • COLORADO PAYCHECK LOANS: The state’s businesses have been approved for nearly $6 billion in potentially forgivable loans to keep workers on payroll in just 11 days. Tamara Chuang has more. >> STORY 

450,000 evictions

  • THE LOOMING PROBLEM OF RENT, MORTGAGES: A study by eviction defense lawyers is warning that without a comprehensive plan, almost a half-million Colorado renters are at risk of eviction once informal moratoriums expire. >> STORY

Two deaths, dozens of infections

  • GREELEY BEEF PLANT SHUTS DOWN TEMPORARILY: The JBS plant in Greeley will close until at least April 24 after deaths and infections led the workers’ union to protest. (The Cargill meatpacking plant in Fort Morgan is also under scrutiny but has not shut down). >> STORY

CORONAVIRUS IN-DEPTH

Coronavirus has underscored the need for paid sick time in Colorado. And the potentially huge costs.

The legislative session is supposed to resume at the Capitol next month, and Colorado Democrats have made it clear that a paid family leave bill is the one bucket-list item that they won’t drop from their once-ambitious agenda. Jennifer Brown has more on how the pandemic has made it clear just how much a plan is needed and why it will be tough for a TABOR-buffered state budget to afford it. >> STORY

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The day skiing died: Inside the historic day coronavirus forced Colorado’s ski industry to shutter

Skiers take some final laps during night skiing March 14, 2020, at Steamboat Resort in Steamboat Springs. (Matt Stensland, Special to The Colorado Sun)

One month. That’s all the time that has passed since the day Gov. Polis ordered the historic closure of every ski resort in the state to prevent the already infected high country from becoming an international vector for coronavirus spread. Jason Blevins has the first draft of history, with a tick-tock look at what went into the decision, including why even a single day’s delay could have meant thousands more infections. >> STORY

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Hundreds of international workers at Colorado ski resorts are in limbo as countries close borders, airlines cancel flights

“It’s not that we want to stay, we just can’t leave. We are stuck.”

Fernando Vinals, a ski instructor trainer from Bariloche, Argentina

As you flew down the slopes, you may not have realized how many of the people teaching new skiers or running the lifts are international residents in the country for the winter on J-1 visas. As the world closed up shop last month, hundreds owere stranded — and are now running out of money. Jason Blevins has more on the sticky situation. >> STORY

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Uncertainty fuels coronavirus scams, misinformation around Colorado

Essential oils won’t cure or prevent COVID-19 infection. You don’t need to give your information to a robocaller to get your stimulus check. Coronavirus isn’t a hoax designed to undermine one politician or another. These are parts of the misinformation rocketing around social media in Colorado and beyond thanks to information gaps, partisan divides and just plain fear around the pandemic. Sandra Fish has more on the state of truth on the internet. >> STORY

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PSA: If you are on Social Security or filed taxes last year and used direct deposit, you don’t need to do anything to get your stimulus checks. If you don’t fit into those groups, the IRS launched its “Get My Payment” site today where you can update your information.

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LIFE AT A DISTANCE

A Colorado man hopes his coronavirus memorials map will connect grieving survivors across the globe

Back in 2015, Jeremiah Lindemann created a place for people to remember victims of the opioid crisis in honor of his younger brother, J.T. But the pandemic has given him a reason to create another map, both to honor those already lost to COVID-19 and to celebrate those who have come through to the other side. Jennifer Brown caught up with Lindemann to learn more about the project. >> STORY

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Coronavirus panic has fueled the telehealth revolution in Colorado — and we won’t go back

Nurse Debra Blidy looks at a patient’s vital signs in the Virtual ICU at UCHealth administrative offices on Sept. 25, 2019, in Aurora. UCHealth systems are using an innovative new system of high tech monitoring to care for patients in hospital rooms. (Photo by Seth McConnell, Special to the Colorado Sun)

“We’ve made three years of progress in about three weeks.”

Dr. Chris Davis, medical director for Virtual Health in the UCHealth system

There’s a good chance that your next doctor’s visit might be over the phone, through a video conference or your health insurance app. And as Michael Booth explores in this piece, the explosion in telemedicine is a genie that won’t go back in the bottle even after the worst of the pandemic is behind us. >> STORY

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MORE CORONAVIRUS NEWS

  • SUPREME COURT’S FIRST TELE-ARGUMENTS INCLUDE COLORADO CASE: From The Associated Press: The highest court in the land will hear cases via teleconference in early May, including the much-anticipated “faithless electors” case from Colorado that could have a massive impact on the presidential election. >> STORY
  • ONLINE POT SALES, DELIVERY: From the Associated Press: You can buy recreational marijuana online in Colorado and pick it up — a major concession to the industry — but advocates are arguing for even more emergency rules to allow for delivery. >> STORY
  • DU STUDENTS WANT TUITION ADJUSTMENT: From Chalkbeat Colorado: With their college experience reduced to the frame of their laptop screen, some DU students want their tuition to reflect what they’ve lost. >> STORY

NON-VIRAL NEWS

>> “This penalty sends a message”: Colorado driller will pay $18.25 million for deadly 2017 Firestone home blast

>> Western Slope utility serving Delta, Montrose settles on $136.5 million fee to break up with Tri-State

The Colorado Report

The best journalism from in and around the state

“I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks. This is about the next two years.”

Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota

// If you read a single thing from this section, make it this. It’s a sober, realistic look at how we will be dealing with this pandemic not just for the next few weeks, but for the next few years, and how our dance with the virus will proceed — think COVID forecasts next to the weather report — until widespread vaccinations are in place. >> The Atlantic

// Colorado is the lead anecdote in this piece exploring the 12 states that use the decades-old programming language COBOL to run their unemployment system — even as the number of programmers who know the language has diminished. >> The Verge

// Rev. Terrance Hughes, aka Big T, was the first COVID-19 patient at the Aurora VA hospital and despite some small wins, he’s back on a ventilator, reports Susan Greene. >> The Colorado Independent

// One change to tax law snuck into the coronavirus stimulus package by Senate Republicans will overwhelmingly benefit millionaires, a new nonpartisan analysis shows.  >> Washington Post

// What difference a few weeks make. One analysis suggests that the number of COVID-19 deaths in the country, currently projected to be somewhere between 60,000-300,000, could have been reduced to 6,000 by intervening two weeks earlier. >> The New York Times

// This has really stuck with me. The Kansas City Chiefs beating the 49ers in the Super Bowl likely prevented a major spread of coronavirus by making sure there wouldn’t be a huge parade/gathering in San Francisco — where the virus was already present in February. >> Sports Illustrated

// During this pandemic, Congress has been mostly absent, leaving an unchecked executive branch — which is doing things like delaying stimulus checks in order to put the president’s name on them — and calls for lawmakers to figure out a remote voting system. >> The New York Times, The Washington Post

// Attorneys are suing the federal government to release vulnerable detainees from the Aurora ICE detention center. >> The Colorado Independent

// With all the attention on how students would learn remotely, who was thinking of the classroom pets? Eric Gorski has a great little tale of Spock and Panda, the classroom rats his family has been sheltering. >> Chalkbeat Colorado

// Here’s a short list of things that have already been canceled for the summer: A mountain barbecue festival, dozens of lucrative weddings, the first of many bluegrass festivals and starting a campfire in Garfield County. Here’s one thing that hasn’t been canceled in a stunning display of optimism: The massive Colorado State Fair, still set for late August. >> Summit Daily, Lyons Recorder, Pueblo Chieftain, Post-Independent

// Here’s a lesson: If you’re an adorable nonagenarian, just make a sign saying you need more beer and Coors will send you 150 free cans. >> @DarenRovell on Twitter

// Just to top it all off: Here’s a dog playing with an elk in Berthoud. >> 9News

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.

 


 

Don’t forget about our virtual Q&A session tonight. It starts at 8 p.m. on Facebook. Send your questions to questions@coloradosun.com and we will do our best to answer them. 

In the meantime, don’t forget to support The Colorado Sun if you’ve been relying on us for COVID-19 information. 

We’re kind of like the “take a penny, leave a penny” receptacle. It doesn’t work unless you actually leave a penny when you have one (become a member) so that there are pennies there when you or other folks need them. Your $5/month helps keep that tray full and the whole state informed.

See you tonight — or back here on Friday. 

— Eric