Coronavirus updates in Denver: news you can use and slices of life in these strange times

It’s like your Twitter feed right now but with fewer trolls and more news.

Hope Tank on Broadway is boarded up, but covered with paint and poems, April 1, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Hope Tank on Broadway is boarded up, but covered with paint and poems, April 1, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Friday

 

2 p.m. Gov. Polis urges Coloradans to wear face masks in public

He made the announcement at a press conference today — and even demonstrated one.

💻 11:56 a.m. DPS will continue remote learning for the remainder of the school year

The news came in an email to teachers today from Superintendent Susana Cordova. All extracurricular activities, including sports and prom, are canceled.

-Ana Campbell

⚾ 11:48 a.m. Opening day might have been canceled, but the Rockies are still celebrating

Today, on what should have been opening day for the Rockies, the team will host a “Stay at Home Opener.” Starting at 2 p.m., head to mlb.com/rockies/fans/virtual-opening-day or rockies.com for a “virtual game” comprised of some of the best home opener innings in franchise history, pregame ceremonies, a virtual seventh inning stretch and more.

The opener will serve another purpose: raising funds for food banks throughout Colorado and Wyoming.

-Ana Campbell

👮 10:40 a.m. Denver cops and firefighters are getting  2,700+ rapid COVID-19 tests

The city’s public safety department got 2,750 test kits from Aytu Bioscience in Englewood for the city’s first-responders.

Denver police Chief Paul Pazen said they were picked up on Thursday. The tests can provide results in less than ten minutes, according to 9News.

City spokesperson Kelli Christensen said in an email to Denverite that the tests will be distributed based on need. “Public Safety staff will be tested if they have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with symptoms,” Christensen said in the email.

Pazen declined to say how many kits his department received. But he called them a critical piece in helping officers, firefighters and paramedics stay safe as they keep working despite the coronavirus. At least 21 public safety personnel in Denver have tested positive for COVID-19.

“When you’re talking about an invisible threat in this virus, having the tools necessary to shed light on this gives us a great advantage and a great bit of help as we manage this crisis at the same time that we are keeping the people of Denver safe,” Pazen said.  “This is a game changer.”

-Esteban Hernandez

🛴 10:15 a.m. Lyft is offering first-responders free scooter rides

The LyftUp Scooter Critical Workforce Program is “a new initiative providing the first-responder, healthcare, and transit workforce with free scooter trips as they serve the public on the frontlines against COVID-19,” the company said in its announcement. The program will last through April 30.

If you’re a first-responder or otherwise work in health care or transit, email heroscooters@lyft.com for more information.

-Ana Campbell

🍲 9:59 a.m. At-home festival will benefit restaurant workers

One of the perks of partying at home is the whole not-getting-dressed thing. Starting at 2 p.m. today, the Sofa King Fest will give you the opportunity to do just that, all while benefiting laid off restaurant workers and musicians. Tune in for 20 intimate performances, pants optional.

-Ana Campbell

 

Thursday

😷 4:41 p.m. Chinese American groups donate protective masks to Denver Fire Department

Denver firefighters and medical responders just received a donation of 1,200 masks from various groups representing the city’s Chinese population.

Xidong Sun presents some of the masks to Greg Pixley of the Denver Fire Department on Thursday. (Courtesy, DFD)

Xidong Sun presents some of the masks to Greg Pixley of the Denver Fire Department on Thursday. (Courtesy, DFD)

Xidong Sun presented the masks to DFD Thursday morning. Spokesman Greg Pixley said the donors did not want to be named individually, but would rather the gesture be seen as a gift from “the Chinese community.”

The masks will help the department during various calls to DFD first responders, including firefighters and emergency medical technicians who handle everything from car crashes to drug overdoses.

At least 10 DFD staffers have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

-David Sachs

👮‍♀️ 4 p.m. At least 21 safety department members in Denver have tested positive for COVID-19

But the city will not release what city agency each case is in.

The Joint Information Center said those numbers are recent as of Wednesday. The city’s public safety department includes police, fire, sheriffs, 911 communications, community corrections, public safety youth programs and the gang reduction initiative of Denver.

While other cities release information about the number of cases in each department, like police and fire, the JIC said in a statement it won’t be releasing information this way, citing privacy concerns.

“Those who have tested positive are under medical supervision and anyone who may have been potentially exposed has been notified,” Kelli Christensen of the Joint Information Center said in an email to Denverite.

-Esteban L. Hernandez

💍 4 p.m. The coronavirus needn’t silence wedding bells

Couples can now mail or drop off their marriage applications in Denver.

The Denver Office of the Clerk and Recorder made the change, effective immediately, after Governor Jared Polis temporarily removed the in-person requirement to obtain a marriage license amid the coronavirus lockdown. The mail or drop-off option will be available until at least April 25.

Applications must be signed by both parties and be accompanied by photocopies of identification, which include driver’s licenses and passports. Applicants can include a check for $30 payable to Manager of Finance or call 720-913-4820 for instructions on paying with a credit or debit card.

Some couples may need additional documentation. More information and the application can be found here.

City clerks will mail marriage licenses to the addresses provided by couples, who can then follow self-solemnization instructions on the clerk’s website.

🍽️  1:45 p.m. Racine’s is closing

It’s permanent, but not immediate and not because of the coronavirus.

In a statement, the owners of the 36-year-old Denver dining mainstay said the land and building are under contract to a developer. They plan to close Jan. 15, 2021.

“The news of the COVID-19 pandemic and statewide restaurant closures are much more important right now than our future plans,” Lee Goodfriend said. “Unfortunately, the progress of the deal forces us to announce this right now. We look forward to re-opening after everyone is safe to celebrate our successful 36 year run with the guests and staff who have always supported us.”

Goodfriend and David Racine are retiring after 40 years as restaurant owners and partners.

☤ 12:05 Connect for Health Colorado extending special enrollment period

Colorado’s official health insurance marketplace, citing the growing number of COVID-19 cases, is extending until April 30 a special enrollment period for uninsured Coloradans.

People who enroll during the extension will have coverage as of May 1, according to an announcement from Connect for Health Colorado. More information can be found here.

11:25 a.m. If it quacks like a …

Updates with birder source identifying the bird

You’ve read about some pretty majestic looking goats roaming Llandudno in northern Wales as townsfolk hunkered down in their homes, leaving the streets quiet. Or wild boars in the streets of Sassari on Sardinia in Italy.

But this double-crested cormorant in Donna’s front yard in Cole today is probably just confused. Surely not the start of fauna taking Denver back.

Some fauna in Cole on April 2, 2020. (Courtesy Fred Glick)

Some fauna in Cole on April 2, 2020. (Courtesy Fred Glick)

🏠 11 a.m. Quakers offer rooms for medical workers

Quakers are offering free rooms in a University Park neighborhood meeting house to doctors, nurses, CNAs, EMTs or paramedics who need a place to stay while isolating from family members.

The worship space in the Mountain View Friends meeting house at 2280 South Columbine Street has been converted into three bedrooms for medical professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

“It is to provide refuge and community for folks who not only are risking their own lives, but too often, the people they love — just by being in the same house,” Diane D’Angelo, a member of the meeting and coordinator of the program, said in a statement.

There’s no limit on stays.

D’Angelo can be reached at 602-405-5134 or dangelo.diane@gmail.com.

Wednesday

🦠 4 p.m. COVID-19 has killed 8 people in Denver and infected 586

Colorado has seen 3,342 cases and 80 deaths, according to the latest statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

While Denver’s 586 infections are the highest of any county, fewer people have died here than in El Paso and Weld counties.

🎓 1:51 p.m. Denver Public Schools will stay closed through at least April 30

Governor Jared Polis has ordered all schools in the state to stay closed for in-classroom learning through April 30.

As CPR News reports, nearly 1 million public and private school children in Colorado will not return to their school buildings before the end of the month.

On March 18, Polis ordered all Colorado schools public and private close through April 17, calling the closures “extended spring breaks.” He made the move to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Schools around the state have been learning from a distance — mostly online — since COVID-19 caused disrupted everyone’s daily life.

“Colorado children will not fall behind academically,” just because they aren’t receiving in-person instruction, he said at a press conference Wednesday.

Check CPR News for more.

🏛 1:41 p.m. Governor Polis says he’s put in a huge order for medical supplies, presumably not from Amazon

The state has ordered 2.5 million N95 masks, 1 million surgical masks, 250,000 gowns and 750 ventilators for front-line professionals to use throughout the crisis, Governor Jared Polis said during a press conference.

The equipment wasn’t easy to find because of the high demand and a lagging supply chain, he said. The state will test the equipment before distributing it to make sure it’s “not counterfeit before we pay for them,” Polis said.

Our colleagues at CPR News have the latest from the governor.

💰 12:43 p.m. On rent day, the movement for tenants to keep that money is becoming visible in Cap Hill

Twitter guy Andy Yemma is seeing signs around Capitol Hill like this in response to COVID-19, which has put many people out of work.

Denver’s housing authority has paused evictions from city-sponsored homes in response to the pandemic. But Mayor Michael Hancock’s emergency executive order does not have any guidance regarding private landlords.

Governor Jared Polis has not instituted any kind of rent freeze but did ask landlords not to evict people during a press conference Monday.

“Right now, they’re not likely to have any law enforcement agency enforce a conviction right now,” Polis said.

About 34 percent of people in the Denver area rent, according to the Apartment Association of Metro Denver. Tenants pay about $1,500 a month on average.

🤡 10:40 a.m. Hi-Dive says it’s moving… to Casa Bonita… again… on April Fools Day

In my opinion, this would be the best combo since KFC and Taco Bell teamed up.

Just remember that the South Broadway staple made the same terrifying joke on April Fool’s Day 2018.

🐱 10:30 a.m. Yes, I wear fur, but only when it’s alive

Tycho climbed all the way up here just to sleep.

Tycho, perched. (David Sachs/Denverite)

Social distancing? (David Sachs/Denverite)

Carry on.

💨 10:04 a.m. Turns out pollution goes down when people stay home and commerce slows

OK, we already knew that from this Kevin story. We live in a car-centric city and as fewer people drive, the air we breathe gets cleaner.

It’s one thing to know it. It’s another thing to see it:

⛳️ 9:34 a.m. Won’t someone please think of the golfers?!

Denver’s public courses are closed, contributing to an itch that local links enthusiasts want to scratch but can’t, according to the Post.

Tuesday

6:05 p.m. Denver City Council passes emergency funds

Here’s how it all breaks down:

A $10 million “Coronavirus Emergency Response” special revenue fund was approved unanimously. The fund will be used for services and supplies such as personal protective equipment, overtime for personnel, capital purchases such as beds or medical equipment, and capital funds such as purchases of facilities.

The $3.5 million “Coronavirus Emergency Business Support” fund was also approved unanimously. The fund will be used to help Denver businesses support their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.

A third bill allows the city to donate surplus computers to PCs for People to be used by low-income families, especially during the pandemic.

“We have worked hard over the past couple of weeks to ensure that we have a fully functioning legislative branch of government as we face the spread of this virus” said Council President Jolon Clark. “Tonight we took action on several bills that will help mobilize resources and provide aid to those who need it, and we will continue our work as Denver responds locally to this global pandemic.”

5:06 p.m. Nationwide, passenger air travel is down by 90 percent

DIA is making adjustments of its own, cutting terminal trains down from arriving at gates every 2 to 3 minutes to every 8 to 9 minutes. The northside security gate will close, leaving just the TSA lines to the south.

Casa Bonita, West Colfax Avenue. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

colfax; casa bonita; food; restaurant; west colfax; denver; colorado; fountain; denverite; kevinjbeaty;

Casa Bonita, West Colfax Avenue. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) colfax; casa bonita; food; restaurant; west colfax; denver; colorado; fountain; denverite; kevinjbeaty;

10:51 a.m. Casa Bonita employees say their checks are bouncing

The Lakewood icon apparently can’t cover its overhead. According to 9News:

“Nick Jones, a diver at the Mexican-themed Casa Bonita restaurant, said his check recently bounced. Jones said he’s heard from at least 20 other employees who have also found their payroll checks have bounced.

“‘As soon as they closed down for COVID-19, everyone went to pick up their checks and went to deposit them, and everyone seems to have had them bounce,’ Jones said.”

10 a.m. People are cutting their own hair

Yesterday, I tweeted that I’d like to take photos of people’s “terrible self- or partner-executed quarantine haircuts.” It was mostly a joke, but it seemed to have struck a chord because some people sent us photos of their handiwork. This is Rene Cruz, who is actually a barber in real life when he’s not supposed to stay indoors.

-Kevin J. Beaty

Rene Cruz cut his own hair. (Courtesy: Rene Cruz)

Rene Cruz cut his own hair. (Courtesy: Rene Cruz)

8:15 a.m. Hobby Lobbies in Colorado are staying open

Per the Post:

“The chain’s decision to stay open in the face of coronavirus social-distancing orders hasn’t gone unnoticed on social media.

“Employees from locations nationwide have been outspoken on Twitter, claiming the company exploits loopholes in orders similar to Colorado’s to stay open. People have shared photos of signs posted at Hobby Lobby stores that say they’re essential businesses because they sell materials for making personal protective equipment and homeschooling supplies.”

Monday

5:45 p.m. An inmate at the Downtown Detention Center tests positive for COVID-19

From the city’s Joint Information Center:

An inmate has tested positive with COVID-19 at the downtown Detention Center.  Per our COVID-19 protocols, the inmate has been isolated in the medical unit of the jail and is being monitored by Denver Health Medical staff. The housing unit the inmate was being held in has been decontaminated. Any inmate who reports symptoms will be referred to medical staff for immediate evaluation. Employees that develop symptoms have been instructed to report to their supervisor and will follow the city’s COVID-19 employee protocol.

3:30 p.m. RTD will offer grocery deliveries to its Access-a-Ride customers

RTD’s Access-a-Ride will offer home grocery delivery to its customers starting today, the transit agency said in a release.

Access-a-Ride provides local bus services for people with disabilities. RTD is partnering with five food providers for the program to help its customers during the coronavirus outbreak. The food providers include King Soopers, Safeway, Community Ministry Southwest food bank, Senior Hub Senior Solutions and Adams County Food Bank.

The release said the service won’t require a fare. People interested in having groceries delivered will need to contact the food provider directly, either by phone or online, and set up an order and pickup time. Once a person places an order, they can call Access-a-Ride to book a trip and have the groceries picked up.

“We are well aware that during a state of emergency, one of the first things people can lose access to is food,” Paul Hamilton, senior manager of paratransit services, said in a release. “When the public is being told to reduce their exposure to others, the last thing we want to do is ask them to leave their homes if they don’t have to. We are pleased to help our customers where they are, and we appreciate the grocers and food banks that are working with us to provide people with this crucial service.”

RTD said more food providers will likely be added and is aking vendors interested in participating to contact the agency at 303-299-6000.

The transit agency has some suggestions for people using this service, with a list available online. The service will only be available to Access-A-Ride customers.

2:55 p.m. Spotted: A Denver squirrel eating pizza

This critter was spotted near 1st Avenue and Ogden Street in Denver. Mmm, pizza…

2:15 p.m. Behold, a Blucifer coloring sheet for your children

Did you know? The city’s arts and venues department has printable coloring sheets of Denver art for children (they’re probably safe for adults too).

They include one of Blucifer, the big blue bear outside the Colorado Convention Center, the Upper Main Street Clothesline on Colfax and the huge dancers at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. They’re part of 24 public artwork pieces picked by the department’s staff.

A Blucifer coloring sheet. Courtesy of Denver Arts & Venues.

A Blucifer coloring sheet. Courtesy of Denver Arts & Venues.

Arts & Venues program manager and spokesperson Amber C. Fochi said over email the department is hoping to create more coloring sheets and provide more family-friendly activities, which it will update on its website. Fochi said it’s still unsure whether it will be installing new public art next month due to the outbreak, though it’s inviting people to take virtual tours of public art on its website. You can find the coloring sheet above on the Arts & Venues family-friendly page.

11:53 a.m. Street sweeping starts on Wednesday

The city asks you please move your car if you can, but don’t worry about a ticket.

10:16 a.m. Here’s something you don’t see every day

DIA is a ghost town, which, to be clear, is great news for slowing the spread of COVID-19.

7:39 a.m. Someone left sweet reminders along the Sloan’s Lake path on Sunday

Is it me or do small gestures mean a lot more than they usually would lately? CPR’s Megan Verlee spotted these painted stones yesterday.

Image from iOS

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