Coronavirus Update: March 17th


  • 160 people have tested positive in Colorado and community spread was confirmed in Pitkin County and the Denver metro area. More than 1,200 people have been tested at the state lab.
  • Two people have died.
  • A resident at a long-term care facility in Larimer County tested positive after a staff member tested positive last week. The facility is receiving additional support from health care workers due to the volatile nature of the situation.
  • An MSU-Denver employee tested positive.
  • Vail Resorts announced all its North American ski resorts will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 winter ski season
  • Gov. Jared Polis mandated that all theaters, gyms, casinos and on-site dining at restaurants and bars across Colorado close for 30 days .
  • Denver restaurants and bars will close their seating areas for the next eight weeks — through May 11. Takeout and delivery services will still be available.
  • Liquor, beer and wine sales in Denver are restricted to carry-out, drive-through and delivery only. All marijuana and hookah bars that don’t serve food will be closed.
  • Denver and Summit County are prohibiting events with more than 50 people. Summit County effectively shut down in a public health order announced Monday.
  • A testing facility will open Tuesday in Telluride, and mountain communities will be getting more tests. Denver’s Lowry location will not be open Tuesday.

TUESDAY, March 17

Weld County man in his 70s dies

Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment (WCDPHE) said a male in his 70s died from COVID-19, the second death in the state. His death is connected to one of the earlier identified positive cases, WCDPHE said.

Resident of long-term care facility in Larimer County tests positive

The positive test comes less than a week after it was announced a worker there had also tested positive.

Due to the high-risk nature of the virus, a team of infection preventionists and epidemiologists from CDC and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) have been working closely with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) and providing on-site technical assistance and support regarding case investigation, infection prevention, healthcare worker safety assessments and personal protective equipment.

Case investigation is in process to identify people who have been in close contact with the individuals who tested positive so that public health workers can reach out to those contacts in the next few days. As with any communicable disease, this case investigation will take some time to complete. In order to protect the privacy of the individuals, identifying information and medical records will not be released to the public, LCDHE said in a statement.

MSU Denver employee tests positive

An MSU Denver employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was last on campus on March 11 and has been self-isolated at home since then. Here’s a list of all resources available to the campus community.

Waterton Canyon closed

Access to Waterton Canyon will be closed to the public starting March 18 and there is no timetable on when it will reopen.

Waterton Canyon is a popular recreation destination and we recognize the closure will create inconveniences,” said Brandon Ransom, manager of recreation for Denver Water. “Closing the canyon will help ensure employee and public safety.”

Denver Water said the decision was made based on guidance from the CDC and state of Colorado.

Boulder temporarily shifts homeless services location 

The City of Boulder has announced temporary changes to serve community members experiencing homelessness in an effort to reduce COVID-19 social spread

Coordinated Entry, which is the first step to receiving homeless services in Boulder County, will conduct assessments via phone until further notice. Anyone in need of the service should call 303-579-4404 during the following hours:

  • 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. every day except Tuesday
  • Noon – 4 p.m. on Tuesdays

Path to Home Navigation is a shelter and assistance program that addresses short-term homeless resolutions. That program requires a referral from Coordinated Entry.

As of March 16, both Coordinated Entry and Path to Home Navigation were relocated from 30th Street to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless in north Boulder.

“Consolidating these services at one location will decrease risk of infection, and infection and increase efficient use of services and available shelter beds,” a release from the city says.

Morgan County Jail suspends inmate visitations

The initial suspension will be for a minimum of 30 days, but the order is fluid and may be extended at any time.

All inmates will receive two free 15-minute phone calls each week during the suspension.

Colorado Department of Education (CDE) pauses 2019-20 state assessments, accountability

End-of-the-year assessments for students, including the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS), will be paused for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to extensive school closures throughout Colorado to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes announced.

“Students and educators need to feel a sense of stability and normalcy before state tests can be administered and produce valid results. This also means we plan to pause our school and district state accountability system as it relates to state assessments for a year,” she said.

CDE is working with The College Board to generate possible solutions for the administration of the PSAT and SAT tests, which offer unique roles in Colorado’s system in terms of scholarships and college entrance. CDE will provide more information on that as it’s available.

CDE plans to work with the U.S. Dept. of Education to address implications, including those related to federal accountability, and will complete waiver documentation as needed.

The department will continue working with schools and districts that are already identified for improvement to help support instruction, including options for instruction during and after school closures.

CDE has compiled resources about Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) for schools and districts on its website.

> Click/tap here to read those resources.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) waives change fees

CPW announced that it will waive fees for changing and/or canceling camping reservations until further notice. Guests should call the reservations call center at 800-244-5613 or the park where they had a reservation and note they are canceling due to COVID-19.

Waterton Canyon access closed starting March 18

Waterton Canyon, an area popular to hikers, bikers and horseback riders, will be closed to the public starting March 18, 2020. Denver Water said there is no current timeline on when the canyon will reopen to the public.

Waterton Canyon is a popular recreation destination and we recognize the closure will create inconveniences,” said Brandon Ransom, manager of recreation for Denver Water. “Closing the canyon will help ensure employee and public safety.”

Political conventions

Governor Polis signed an executive order and House Bill 20-1359 (HB20-1359) administratively which allows for Colorado’s political parties to amend certain rules and procedures governing the conduct of their assemblies and conventions and to limit in-person contact during nominating assemblies and conventions. 

The bill, which operates in conjunction with the executive order, allows for the parties to provide for remote participation in nominating assemblies and conventions.

It also allows delegates to vote by email, mail, telephone or app, allows an individual who is physically present to carry up to five proxies, and allows the party to reduce the number of participants required for quorum.

The executive order directs the Secretary of State to issue emergency rules to allow eligible voters to safely participate in the primary election.

Vail Resorts closure

Vail resorts announced Tuesday that all its North American ski resorts and retail stores will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 winter ski season.

The company said previously those places would be closed between March 15 and March 22. Vail Resorts said it would consider reopening Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, Heavenly Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia in late April/early May, dependent on the situation with COVID-19 as well as weather conditions.

Lodging properties owned and operated by Vail Resorts will close on Friday, March 20, with final check-ins allowed until 4 p.m. (local time) Tuesday.

Epic Mountain Express, the company’s Colorado transportation service, will run through Wednesday, March 18 and will remain closed until further notice after that.

Guests can process refunds and credits on pre-purchased lift tickets, lodging, ski and ride school, equipment rentals and more, subject to applicable terms and conditions, using an online form that will be available at some point Tuesday on the company’s resort websites.

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