Coronavirus In Colorado: March 18 Updates

Mar 18, 2020

This post will continue to be updated throughout the day. 

Update 5:14 p.m.

The state reports there are now 216 known positive cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 33. There are eight in El Paso County and one in Pueblo County.

The state health department says it will start sending COVID-19 testing resources to communities that have not yet had testing in an effort to gain an idea of how the disease is spreading. One of those is a temporary site in Pueblo, set to open Thursday. The Colorado National Guard and the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment are working together on the site. The site will focus on high-risk patients who have been pre-selected by local health care providers.

"We are prioritizing testing in certain areas to better understand where and how much transmission is occurring," said state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy in a statement. "It's critical that we are gathering data in all areas of the state, especially areas where there hasn't been a lot of testing."

The state health department also encourages those with mild symptoms to stay home and avoid contact with others, and to only call your health care provider if the illness becomes more severe, especially shortness of breath.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department is also starting a new screening process for people they encounter through emergency calls who may have COVID-19.

 

Update 2:25 p.m.

Gov. Polis announces "Help Colorado Now," a website to aid people affected by COVID-19

Gov. Polis launched the "Help Colorado Now" website, which allows people to donate time and money to people affected by COVID-19. The website offers ways to volunteer for local organizations, donate blood, provide needed medical supplies and give financial contributions.

The contributions are collected by a partnership between the State of Colorado and Mile High United Way, called the Colorado COVID Relief Fund. Organizations working to prevent and treat COVID-19 will be able to apply for these funds next week, according to a press release from the governor.

Update 11:55 a.m.

Colorado National Guard to support logistics at various drive-up test sites

Close to 50 members of the Colorado National Guard (CONG) have been mobilized to help with logistics at drive-up test sites for COVID-19. This comes at the order of Governor Jared Polis. They will serve at various sites for the next 10 days.

"The National Guard has unique capabilities that can provide our state additional resources to combat COVID-19," The Adjutant General of Colorado U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Mike Loh said in a press release. "Most of the personnel responding now are our state's resident-trained and equipped experts in biological hazards."

Information about testing locations can be found on the CDPHE website or by contacting please contact the CDPHE HELP Hotline at 877-462-2911.

Update 8:45 a.m.

State Capitol closed to public

The Colorado state capitol has been closed to the public indefinitely. 

According to a press release from the office of Governor Jared Polis, the closure comes as the state works to implement social distancing guidelines.

Staff and members of the media will continue to be allowed in the building for the time being.

Original story - 7:00 a.m.

Second COVID-19 fatality announced, cases statewide pass 180

At last report, the state has 183 positive cases of the new coronavirus. There are two reported fatalities. The first was in El Paso County. The second death was a man in his 70s from Weld County. No other details have been released. 

Officials say 1,790 people have been tested and 19 counties are affected.

The state has launched new website for resources. Updates on the number of cases, hospitalizations, and other important information will come from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment daily around 4 p.m.

Check out the new site

A look at cases in the Mountain West

Of the seven states in the Mountain West region, Colorado has seen the most cases of the new coronavirus as well as the fastest increase in cases. Idaho has the fewest so far, with Montana and Wyoming also showing a small count of positive infections.

That being said, experts fear the number of cases being reported nationwide is far too low. 

Find out why here

Weeks Ahead Of When Coronavirus Will Peak In CO, Hospitals Are Already Seeing Shortages

The chief medical officer at Denver Health says the hospital is seeing a spike in possible COVID patients, creating a shortage of testing kits, supplies and personal protective equipment used to prevent the spread of sickness to hospital workers.

“We need an alternative for testing. We need faster testing,” said Dr. Connie Savor Price.

A negative pressure room inside St. Joseph Hospital, March 10, 2020.
Credit Kevin J. Beaty / Denverite

The state’s top safety-net hospital doesn’t have enough tests or swabs to do them at the current pace, and test result turnaround times are too long, Price said. That is severely slowing doctors’ ability to tell who has COVID and who doesn't, so they can separate and treat the patients who have it.

“Everything” hinges on testing as hospitals respond to the upswing in possible coronavirus patients, said Price, who is also a professor of infectious diseases.

Read the full report from our partners at CPR News