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The Sunriser

Sunriser: COVID marshmallow test / View from an Eastern Plains hospital / Medical supply airlift / How disabled students are learning from home / So much more

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

A sign visible inside a Starbucks' closed cafe area in Glendale on April 19, 2020. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Good morning and happy (?) Monday, readers. How was your weekend?

I spent mine stripping old paint off the walls of my bathroom and thinking about marshmallows.

Specifically, the famous (though now mostly debunked) “marshmallow test,” where researchers placed a marshmallow in front of kids and told them if they could resist eating that one marshmallow for 15 minutes, they would get a second marshmallow as a reward for their patience.

Right now, society is undergoing its own marshmallow test, except the consequence for failing the test is death. COVID-19 is already killing as many Coloradans as cancer and the only reason the toll isn’t much higher is the strict social distancing measures and sacrifices we’re all making as a society. It’s that simple.

We’re doing the hard work now to keep people from dying and get the economy going as soon as possible.

This newsletter has stories from all over Colorado about the ripple effects of this historic time, plus more thoughts and insights from readers like you in our Write On project.

So let’s dip this brush already, shall we?

A sign visible inside a Starbucks’ closed cafe area in Glendale on April 19, 2020. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

The News

THANKS TO OUR MEMBERS, READERS

The Colorado Sun wins 28 awards, including 14 first-place, in Top of the Rockies competition

Runners in the Team Prep distance running camp take a post plunge in the icy waters of Coal Creek as it flows through Totem Park in Crested Butte, Colorado. The Colorado Sun won second place in the Top of the Rockies contest for the story: The fastest kids in America are running hills and chilling in creeks around Crested Butte. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Kicking off a newsletter talking about the awards you’ve won is, I’ll admit, a pretty bold tactic. But this isn’t about bragging. This is about showing what can happen when readers and members like you decide to support a whole new way of creating and funding local journalism. Each of these awards — including our first-place Public Service project Capitol Sunlight and General Website Excellence — was supported by our thousands of members, hundreds of thousands of readers and the millions of Coloradans who we hope to serve with our work.

Take a look at the whole list to see just how much high-quality journalism your support has helped create (and if you’re not a member yet, there’s no better time to become one starting at just $5 a month). >> STORY

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

Coronavirus deaths in Colorado pass 400 as outbreaks at long-term care facilities grow

  • 422 DEATHS: The latest data from the state indicates that we’re nearing 10,000 confirmed cases, with the usual caveat that because of limited testing, the real number of infections is significantly higher. >> STORY
  • HELP FOR UNEMPLOYED: On Tuesday Colorado launched a one-stop website filled with job listings and emergency resources — like where to get food, shelter and childcare — as the state works to brunt the economic impact of coronavirus and keep people on their feet. >> STORY
  • NATIONAL GUARD TO HELP TEST SENIOR FACILITIES: As the outbreaks in the state’s nursing homes and senior care facilities continue to worsen, Gov. Jared Polis announced a series of new measures including National Guard assistance to perform testing at some facilities and the creation of new beds for sick patients. >> STORY
  • PENCE ADDRESSES AIR FORCE GRADS: It was a stripped-down ceremony, complete with social distancing, at the normally packed event. >> STORY
  • THUNDERBIRDS ROAR ACROSS COLORADO: If you didn’t see (or hear) them on Saturday, we have so many photos and videos of the Air Force Thunderbirds flying all over Colorado. >> STORY
The Thunderbirds pass by the Flatirons above Boulder. (Tom Bugnitz, Special to The Colorado Sun)

“It’s not over until it’s over”: 5 things to know about hitting the coronavirus peak

“This absolutely does not mean the pandemic is nearing an end. Once you get past the peak, it’s not over until it’s over. It’s just the starting time for the rest of the response.”

— Pia MacDonald, an infectious disease expert at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute in North Carolina

Kaiser Health News has a handy explainer on the science of what’s ahead of us during this pandemic. >> STORY

IN-DEPTH

Colorado governor says he can’t guarantee people’s safety once state begins to reopen

“If people could just stay at home all of May and June and July, this thing would go away. But people aren’t, because they can’t.”

— Gov. Jared Polis

On Friday the governor clarified a statement made by one of the state’s top health officials, saying that there will be some risk of harm from coronavirus until a vaccine is developed, even as plans are made to ease some of the social distancing restrictions as soon as Sunday. >> STORY

+ HUNDREDS GATHER TO PROTEST STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS: Protesters — including Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock — rallied against Colorado’s stay-at-home orders. >> STORY

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, joins demonstrators at the Colorado Capitol on Sunday, April 19, 2020. The protesters were calling for an end to limitations on their movement put in place because of the new coronavirus. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

The view from a hospital on Colorado’s Eastern Plains as it works to avoid being overrun by coronavirus

Medical workers at Wray Community District Hospital practice caring for patients while wearing personal protective gear. (Provided by Dr. Lindsey Paulson)

“If we start getting a whole bunch of illness within our staff, I think then we’re sort of sunk.”

Dr. Lindsey Paulson

Wray Community District Hospital is working to fight against a long list of obstacles facing rural hospitals, from financial difficulties to a lack of Flight for Life flights to get patients to urban facilities, as it prepares for what health care workers fear is an inevitable rush of coronavirus patients. Jesse Paul has more from the Eastern Plains. >> STORY

As Colorado kids with disabilities study remotely, some are lacking critical support services

Ten-year-old Shepsira Turner, left, giggles with her mother, Deronn Turner, right, while working on school assignments at home in Denver on April 15, 2020. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Students are getting used to the world of remote learning. But for students who got more from their time at school — like occupational therapy and other services — replacing the school experience has been slow. Erica Breunlin has an in-depth look at how families are dealing with staying at home. >> STORY

The inside story of the unprecedented airlift delivering coronavirus supplies to rural Colorado hospitals

Pilot Stan VanderWerf poses in front of his plane on April 11, 2020. VanderWerf flew boxes of personal protective equipment to Alamosa to replenish the supplies of San Luis Valley Health hospitals. (Provided by Stan VanderWerf)

This is a really remarkable story about a really remarkable effort: Donated protective gear, homemade masks and volunteer pilots all contribute to the herculean effort of getting equipment to rural hospitals — for some, just in the nick of time. >> STORY

Colorado’s unemployment rate hit 4.5% in March; $600 federal payments for jobless begin

Tamara Chuang has more on the continued surge in unemployment, including why Colorado now has a higher unemployment rate than the nation, and what new benefits are available for gig workers, self-employed and more starting today. >> STORY

MORE CORONAVIRUS NEWS

  • VON MILLER HAS COVID-19: The Broncos linebacker is maybe the highest-profile American athlete to announce a positive test. >> STORY
  • VIRTUAL PEP RALLY IN AURORA: Paris Elementary in Aurora held a virtual pep rally to help keep school culture alive. >> STORY
  • VAIL PIONEER DIES: Bob Lazier, a one-time Indy 500 racer and pioneer of Vail resort, died at the age of 81 after fighting COVID-19. >> STORY

POLITICS

Colorado’s Democratic race for U.S. Senate is essentially set. It’s Romanoff vs. Hickenlooper.

The Colorado Democratic Party assembly — held online with little fanfare over the weekend — was a big win for Andrew Romanoff and essentially set the fight to take on Sen. Cory Gardner. John Frank analyzed how the politics machinery is still rolling during social distancing. >> STORY

The Colorado Report

The best journalism from in and around the state

// This is an interesting essay about “The Old Lady on the Mountain” aka Susanne Sener of Larkspur — who wrote an essay for our Write On, Colorado project last month.  >> CNN

// I’ve referenced the idea of the “right for repair” before in this newsletter — mostly about tractors and smartphones — but there’s a new, even more urgent front in that battle: how to repair ventilators.  >> Kaiser Health News

//How Millions of Women Became the Most Essential Workers in America” >> The New York Times

// It may seem like the wide open plains would be a perfect place to self-isolate, but my home county of Yuma was ranked as one of the places least able to social distance because of tighter housing and a higher percentage of in-person jobs than other places in the state. >> Colorado Health Institute

// You may not know that one of the largest flour suppliers in the country is based in Denver. Ardent Mills is working like crazy to produce enough to keep up with the stay-at-home surge in baking.  >> Denver7

// I’ve been watching the way that online messaging has turned into real-world protests since the days of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, and the “Reopen the Economy” protests are the latest that have the appearance of grassroots but have deep roots in dark money. The Associated Press looked at the political angle behind the protests, The Guardian has more on the far-right groups riling up the movement and The New York Times’ Charlie Warzel — another veteran of covering the early days of online political organizing — has an op-ed about the path between “liberty” and essentially protesting for the right to get sick and infect others.  >> The Guardian, The New York Times

// Photojournalist Alyson McClaran captured some striking images of health care workers counterprotesting in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood and a Denver nurse told 9News that the protests felt like “a slap in the face.”  >> @McclaranAlyson on Twitter, 9News

// Farmers markets have been deemed essential and will kick off in early May, but there will be changes, including online ordering and strict social distancing rules. >> The Know

// This is a pretty remarkable police blotter headline: “Man arrested for allegedly menacing driver with cow’s jawbone in Kersey after road rage incident ended in crash, shot fired” >> Greeley Tribune

The Opinion Page

Columns from around the state

SunLit

Interviews, excerpts with Colorado authors

Author Michael Laurence surely had no idea his novel “The Extinction Agenda” would be on bookstore shelves during a real-life pandemic, but here we are. In the excerpt from his thriller, which is a finalist for a Colorado Book Award, we’re introduced to the first signs that a killer virus has been unleashed by forces seeking the destruction of humankind. In the SunLit interview, we learn how Laurence’s writing in the sci-fi and horror genres led him to the plot of his latest work.

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.

 


 

OK, that newsletter was packed like a can of sardines (which I’ve been discovering are a great way to make a quick lunch when you’re trying to shake up your stay-at-home lunch game).

Thanks again for reading and don’t forget to share the stories you found in this newsletter far and wide — and to let people know you found them here in The Sunriser (and feel free to include a link to http://coloradosun.com/newsletters so they can join our community here).

Stay safe, stay sane and we’ll see you back here on Wednesday!

— Eric