Coronavirus updates in Denver from March 19: news you can use and slices of life in these weird times

It’s like your Twitter feed right now but with fewer trolls and more news.
8 min. read
A woman named Priscilla shows off kitty gloves she said her sister gave her to wear, March 18, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

5:03 Colorado's health insurance marketplace responds to coronavirus

Colorado's official health insurance marketplace is offering a special enrollment period for uninsured Coloradans in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The enrollment period starts Friday and ends April 3, according to an announcement from Connect for Health Colorado. Coverage would start April 1.

Applicants should select "will lose or lost health insurance and/or have no other health coverage during the COVID-19 outbreak" as the reason and give their application date as the "qualifying life change event date," and health insurance companies will not ask them for documentation to verify their eligibility for the special enrollment period, according to the announcement.

Options for applying include online at; and by phone at 855-752-6749, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and during extended customer service center hours this weekend and next from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

-Donna Bryson

5 p.m. Feeling ill? Self-isolate, please

At this point, not everyone who has been exposed to the new coronavirus or becomes ill with the disease it causes will be able to or need to have a test, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy says.

In a statement, she called on people to act to slow the spread of COVID-19 even without test results by self-isolating or self-quaranting.

COVID-19 symptoms are coughing, shortness of breath and/or fever. Symptoms may be very mild, like a common cold. They could include a combination of cough, body aches, fatigue, and chest tightness. Some people may not develop fever at all, or not until several days of illness.

People who have COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate: stay away from others until 7 days have passed since the symptoms began and until any fever has been gone for 72 hours and all other symptoms are improving.

"Even people who feel mild illness, and aren't sure, should follow self-isolation orders, and their contacts should follow self-quarantine orders," Herlihy says.

If you who don't have symptoms but are close to someone who does, you should self-quarantine -- stay away from others for 14 days to see if you become ill. If you come down with COVID-19 symptoms while self-quarantining, start self-isolating.

-Donna Bryson

4:10 p.m. Latest coronavirus testing news

Denver's known positive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have increased by six since Wednesday to 49. That's according to the state health department.

3:44 p.m. You won't get a parking ticket for not moving your car on street sweeping days

But you should still move your car if you can. From the city:

Denver's street sweeping program will begin April 1; however, the city will not enforce parking restrictions related to street sweeping for 30 days. People who are able to move their cars on street sweeping day are asked to do so to allow street sweepers to reach the curb line and more effectively sweep.

The following enforcement activities will continue:

  • Fire hydrant zone clear areas (10 ft. clear around hydrants)
  • "No Stopping" or "No Parking" zones to promote safety
  • Loading zones - Passenger, Truck, Permitted, General, Temporary, etc.
  • RTD transit stops
  • Special parking permitted spaces, including accessible spaces, CarShare, church zones, fire zones
  • Blocked driveways and alleys
  • Parking in travel lanes, including bike and transit lanes

3:20 p.m. Denver's DA is working on reducing the jail population

The Denver District Attorney's office is working with defense attorneys and the courts to release some inmates who are at high-risk when it comes to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Older inmates and pregnant woman are among those who could be released for health reasons.

Inmates who have little time left on their sentences also could be released, according to the DA's office, which said it was "leveraging in-home detention" in appropriate circumstances.

The spread of coronavirus in jail has been a concern because inmates cannot practice social distancing.

-David Sachs

12:53 p.m. Someone in the Nuggets' organization tested positive for COVID-19

According to the team, the person was tested on March 16 after experiencing symptoms related to the disease. The person is "currently under the care of medical staff and in self-isolation."

The statement from the team did not identify the staffer's department.

-Ana Campbell

11:41 a.m. Looks like a lot of people are home-baking

Denverite reader Lucy Graca just sent us this photo she took Wednesday afternoon of the sugar-free shelves at the Safeway 2150 South Downing St.

"I was interested in what people are buying and what they're NOT buying!" Graca wrote in an email. "Stevia anyone? Or maybe you'd prefer Splenda?

A photo from a Denverite reader in the Safeway at 2150 South Downing St. on March 19, 2020. (courtesy Lucy Graca)

-Donna Bryson

11:31 a.m. The kids are alright

Lydia Shimelis, a junior at Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, isn't letting social distancing stop her from checking out gallery spaces and hotel ball rooms.

"Everywhere I go, it's just me and the other person, standing five  feet apart, no shaking hands," Shimelis said.

It's not for prom. Shimelis, co-development director for Helping the Homeless Colorado, is planning the teen-run nonprofit's fundraising gala. The 17-year-old is hoping the coronavirus outbreak is under in control in time for the event to go ahead in August.

Helping the Homeless Colorado grew out of a service project that founder Matine Khalighi, now a Smoky Hill senior, undertook in eight grade. The nonprofit's activities include raising funds for scholarships for young people experiencing homelessness.

Just thought you'd be interested in how some students are spending the extended spring break brought to us by the coronavirus.

-Donna Bryson

11:02 a.m. Dave's asking for your #COVIDConfession on Twitter

C'mon, you know you have one.

11:01 a.m. Beware fraudsters who are trying to get your info for COVID-19 checks

The Denver District Attorney's office is warning folks to be very cautious of fraudsters. Millennials, you are not immune to this scam. From the DA:

"As you continue to report on the economic toll COVID-19 is taking on Colorado's economy, I encourage you to help keep people safe from a new scam connected to the president announcing the public will receive $1,000 checks.  The fraudsters are already actively asking people (phone calls and email) to provide their SSN or bank account information to expedite receipt of the check.  Unfortunately, millennials are THE MOST susceptible to this scam.

"Additionally, 20 - 30-year olds are less skeptical of things on line.  They are more inclined to "click on something" versus opening another window and manually typing in the site URL.  The side effect scam being malware or Trojans.

"We are working on some social media graphics to warn people about this new scam (and other ones related to COVID-19) and will be posting them later today to our Facebook and @DenverDAsOffice accounts.  If you find them helpful, please feel free to use them if you choose to report."

10:11 a.m. DPS will launch remote learning on April 7

From the Denver Post:

Denver Public Schools will make the unprecedented switch to remote learning beginning Tuesday, April 7, the school district announced.

"I know that in my lifetime, I have never experienced anything like this," wrote DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova in a message to the community. "And I also know that everyone in Team DPS is working hard to support our kids and our community."

Colorado's largest school district is buying additional Chromebook laptops and internet connectivity options for students and families who need resources to continue learning at home.

Read the full story here.

5 a.m. The New York Times photographed the new economy

The photo essay is called "Witnessing the Birth of the Coronavirus Economy," and if that doesn't sober you right up, nothing will.

"New York was still making money a week ago. A few people wearing masks, some closings, but generally business as usual. And then we tumbled down a cliff. By Friday, commuters arriving at Grand Central Terminal paused as they entered the main concourse -- stunned by its emptiness, the usual din quieted by stay-at-home orders from companies and the government. For the first time, the vast, star-covered ceiling seemed appropriate."

Yesterday, but still: We're launching a coronavirus flash-fiction contest

Things are getting weird. Let's create.

The sparsely occupied East economy parking field at Denver International Airport, which had a noticeably quieter feel Tuesday afternoon, March 17, 2020, during the coronavirus outbreak.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

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