2020 coronavirus pandemic in Colorado

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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Colorado
COVID-19 Cases in Colorado by counties (Density).svg
Map of counties Colorado with number of confirmed cases (as of March 15)
  Confirmed <5
  Confirmed 6-10
  Confirmed 11-20
  Confirmed >20
Colorado National Guard (49673441472).jpg
CDPHE, Colorado National Guard, and San Miguel County personnel assist at a drive-up testing center in Telluride, Colorado.
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationColorado, U.S.
First outbreakCalifornia[1]
Index caseSummit County, Douglas County
Arrival dateMarch 5, 2020 (4 weeks and 1 day ago)
Confirmed cases3,728[2]
Official website

The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic was confirmed to have reached the U.S. state of Colorado on March 5, 2020. As of April 2, 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) confirmed 3,728 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, along with 97 deaths as a result of the disease.[3][2]



On March 5, public health officials reported the first two cases of coronavirus in the state. The first case was a man in his 30s visiting Summit County who had made contact with a confirmed case in California.[4] The second case was an elderly woman in Douglas County who had traveled internationally.[5] Both cases were considered presumptive positives; they had been tested by the state but had not been sent to the CDC for verification.[a]

On March 10, Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency. Polis also announced 17 total presumptive positive cases in the state.[6][7] The state announced a drive-up testing facility for patients with a doctor's note in Denver's Lowry neighborhood, at no charge to the patients.[8]

On March 11, The University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) cancelled the 72nd annual Conference on World Affairs.[9] The Nederland Town Board of Trustees cancelled the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days, following a Boulder County Public Health recommendation. The event was scheduled for the weekend of March 13.[10]

On March 12, a CU Boulder employee received a presumptive positive test for COVID-19. The employee worked on March 9 from 8 a.m. to noon in limited areas of the Center for Community dining center.[11] Despite Boulder County health's recommendations, the annual May Bolder Boulder race and the Boulder Creek Festival were still scheduled.[12] Many major school districts, including Denver Public Schools, Jefferson County Public Schools and Cherry Creek Public Schools, announced closures lasting at least two weeks.[13] Due to the current strain on medical facilities in mountain communities, Govenor Jared Polis discouraged mountain travel for the elderly.[14]

On March 13, Colorado reported its first COVID-19-related death: an 80-year-old woman with underlying health issues from El Paso County.[15][16] To offset the loss of quarantined medical personnel, Govenor Jared Polis asked former doctors and nurses to rejoin the stressed medical workforce.[17] Due to low temperatures, the Lowry drive-up testing service did not operate. The state planned to move the drive-up testing to the Denver Coliseum, starting March 14, subject to weather. The testing at the Coliseum would service a maximum of 150 patients. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) also planned to move the drive-up service to strategic locations as warranted.[18] In Aspen, 10 Australian ski vacationers were confirmed with the virus, with three others refusing testing. The three Australians who refused testing were quarantined for two weeks.[19]

On March 14, the state legislature went into recess for two weeks.[20][21] Govenor Jared Polis issued an executive order to close downhill ski areas for a week, doing so "with a profound sense of pain and grim responsibility." Some ski areas had already planned to close on March 15.[22][23][24][25]

On March 16, Denver Mayor Hancock ordered all bars and restaurants closed by 8 a.m. on March 17 (except for food delivery and pickup) and banned gatherings of more than 50 people.[26] Govenor Jared Polis expanded the closures by ordering a state-wide closure of dine-in services, gyms, casinos, and theaters.[27]

On March 18, Govenor Jared Polis closed schools until April 17 and banned gatherings of more than 10 people for the following 30 days. Polis also ordered ski resorts to remain closed until April 6.[28] The governor also expressed frustration with nonchalance regarding social distancing and announced the creation of a fund to aid Coloradans affected by COVID-19.[29] San Miguel County became the first county in the nation to plan to test all of its residents. It also ordered residents to "shelter-in-place."[30] Gun sales skyrocket in Colorado, along with toilet paper, and hand sanitizer, thousands of Coloradians are also falling in line with the national trend of stocking up on guns.[31]

On March 19, Colorado reported two more COVID-19-related deaths, one of which was a man related to Colorado's first death.[32] Govenor Jared Polis extended the closure of bars, restaurants, theaters, gymnasiums and casinos until April 30 and suspended all nonessential medical procedures. The governor also ordered the closure of "nonessential" businesses until April 30, which include nail salons, spas, and tattoo parlors.[33]

On March 21, Rocky Mountain National Park closed after the mayor of Estes Park cited concerns about the novel coronavirus.[34]

On March 23, Aytu BioScience, a pharmaceutical company in Colorado, announced that it developed a blood test that will deliver results in two to ten minutes at the point of care for antibodies for the COVID-19 virus. The FDA has now approved the test for distribution.[35] Denver Mayor Hancock announced a "stay at home" order for Denver county. This was to go into effect Tuesday March 24 at 5pm.[36]

On March 24, thirteen Colorado counties and multiple cities had announced some form of stay-at-home order, including Adams County, Arapahoe County, Archuleta County, Boulder County, Broomfield County, Denver County, Douglas County, Eagle County, Grand County, Jefferson County, La Plata County, Pitkin County and San Miguel County.[37]

On March 25, Govenor Jared Polis put the state of Colorado in complete lock-down, with a stay-at-home order. This started on Thursday the twenty-sixth at six in the morning, and was scheduled to last through April 11.[38]

On March 26 Mike Willis, Colorado's director of emergency management, had a new coronavirus testing program for health care workers, and first responders. The state had received 5,000 test kits, with another 2,500 expected in the following week. "The state is setting up test locations — one each in the north, south and on the Western Slope, Willis said. Exact testing location times and places have not been announced." Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be closing all playgrounds, campgrounds, camping and camping facilities — including yurts and cabins — at Colorado's state parks as well as camping at State Wildlife Areas until further notice.[39]

On March 27 Govenor Jared Polis said that he is working to add 5,000 ICU beds to Colorado's capacity by the end of the summer and is in conversations to bring more ventilators to the state to treat sick COVID-19 patients.[40]

On March 28, President Donald Trump Approves Colorado Disaster Declaration.[41] Governor Jared Polis announced that President Trump had approved the request to declare a major disaster for Colorado. The status means the state is eligible to receive additional federal resources and funding to help address the pandemic.[40] the New York Post named Gunnison County, at 454.20 per 100,000 people and Eagle County at 331.74 per 100,000[42] as being two of the top four counties leading the nation in confirmed cases outside of New York and Louisiana. The other two counties are Blaine County, Idaho and Summit County, Utah. They state that this will no doubt overwhelm local hospitals.[43] Andy Larson of the Salt Lake Tribune did some math based on factual reporting, and put Gunnison County, Colorado third in the country for cases per capita. He listed Eagle County as eighth.[44]

On March 29, CDOT, Colorado Department of Transportation, suspended the Bustang and Outrider through at least April 11.[45]

On March 31, Gunnison County announced they will begin working with a company called Biobot, to test fecal samples from the sewer system, to track coronavirus. The county will collect samples and send them back to Biobot which can produce results in about three days. The tests will help measure the scope of the outbreak in the county, and track the impact of interventions, such as social distancing. It could also act as an early warning system for a re-emergence of cases.[46] Colorado Doctors are turning to telemedicine, to keep people out of the hospitals or ERs where their chance at infection of COVID-19 is higher. Many Health insurance companies will pay the Doctors the same rate for a virtual visit as in-person. Previously insurance compainies only paid about half as much. Also, Medicare may wave co-payments on these visits. So, this is an affordable way to maintain the spread of infection.[47] The demand for guns in Colorado continues to rise amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Despite the CBI strongly encouraging firearm dealers to hold firearms until the background checks are completed, gun shops are considered essential businesses under the state's stay-at-home order and are classified as “critical retail,” along with grocery stores, gas stations, marijuana and liquor stores, and several other businesses.[48] Mike Wills, director of the state's Office of Emergency Management, said that, Budweiser Events Center could serve as a temporary hospital as Colorado prepares for the coronavirus surge.[49]

At the end of March, the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs eased some of its social distancing measures for its on-campus cadets, after two seniors committed suicide there in the prior week. Earlier strict efforts to isolate and separate cadets had provoked complaints.[50]


On April 1, Colorado readies guidelines for prioritizing coronavirus patient care if hospitals overload. With the latest tally on Wednesday, of 3,342 cases, and 620 people hospitalized with COVID-19[51], Julie Lonborg a spokeswoman for the Colorado Hospital Association, said the state's medical network at the moment is "not anywhere near capacity". We've seen in other states and countries that there can be a lot of patients all at once. That kind of surge could force doctors to have to decide which critical patients get scarce equipment and staffing to keep them alive.[52] About the new guideline, Dr. Matthew Wynia, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus said, “This is statewide guidance on how to do triage in the most ethically defensible way,” [53] The Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that Colorado will hit its peak COVID-19 cases on April 17, when it says there could be a shortage of nearly 2,000 hospital beds and nearly 500 intensive care unit beds based on the measures the state has taken so far to stem the spread of the virus. A number of efforts are underway to close that gap.[54]

Government response[edit]

On March 10, Govenor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency, ordering the state's Department of Labor and Employment to develop rules for requiring employees in sectors such as food service and health care be offered paid sick leave if they display symptoms.[55] The March 14 executive order to close ski areas for a week was the second most significant action by the governor.[55]

On March 22, Govenor Jared Polis ordered non-essential businesses to reduce the number of people physically present in the workplace by 50 percent, and more if possible.[56]

Self-quarantine of government officials[edit]

On March 17, both Senator Cory Gardner and Representative Jason Crow elected to self-quarantine for 14 days, until March 25. Both Gardner and Crow interacted with a Coloradan who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11. The legislators represented two of 14 members of the U.S. Congress who decided to self-quarantine.[57][58]

On March 19, Colorado State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet reported testing positive for coronavirus. Michaelson Jenet was the first member of the Colorado General Assembly to report testing positive for coronavirus, and elected to self-quarantine in her home. Michaelson Jenet was at the Colorado Capitol on March 14, the day it closed due to the virus.[59]

Impact on sports[edit]

Most of state's sports teams were affected. Several leagues began postponing or suspending their seasons starting March 12. Major League Baseball cancelled the remainder of spring training on that date, and on March 16, they announced that the season will be postponed indefinitely, after the recommendations from the CDC to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, affecting the Colorado Rockies.[60] Also on March 12, the National Basketball Association announced the season would be suspended for 30 days, affecting the Denver Nuggets.[61]

Colorado Avalanche[edit]

The 2019–20 Colorado Avalanche season was suspended for an indefinite amount of time as the National Hockey League suspended the season.[62] After a player on the Ottawa Senators tested positive for coronavirus on 17 March, concerns arose about the Avalanche's potential exposure. The Avalanche used the San Jose Sharks' locker room after the Senators.[63]

College sports[edit]

In college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association cancelled all winter and spring tournaments, most notably the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, affecting colleges and universities statewide.[64] On March 16, the National Junior College Athletic Association also canceled the remainder of the winter seasons as well as the spring seasons.[65]


Testing capacity and timing[edit]

Despite the urgency for testing Coloradans for COVID-19, many people have been frustrated with the state's limited testing capacity and slow response time.[66] Govenor Jared Polis has noted that expanding testing capacity is "absolutely critical", yet limited supplies and a small number of trained medical staff have resulted in a low testing rate.[66] While CDPHE implemented a mobile testing site in Lowry, Denver (later moved to the Denver Colosseum), the site closed due to long lines.[67] As of March 18, no private laboratories were performing tests[66] and only people who exhibited the most severe symptoms were being prioritized for testing.[68] While some tests can be completed in a matter of minutes, Colorado's test results have taken up to five days.[66]


COVID-19 cases in Colorado, United States  ()
     Deaths        Active cases
# of cases
# of deaths
77(+28)(+57%) 1
101(+24)(+31%) 1
131(+30)(+30%) 1
160(+29)(+22%) 1
183(+23)(+14%) 2(+100%)
216(+33)(+18%) 2
277(+61)(+28%) 4(+100%)
363(+86)(+31%) 4
475(+112)(+31%) 5(+25%)
591(+116)(+24%) 6(+20%)
720(+129)(+22%) 7(+17%)
912(+192)(+27%) 11(+57%)
1,086(+174)(+19%) 19(+72%)
1,430(+344)(+31%) 24(+26%)
1,734(+304)(+21%) 31(+29%)
2,061(+327)(+19%) 44(+42%)
2,307(+246)(+12%) 47(+7%)
2,627(+320)(+14%) 51(+9%)
2,966(+339)(+13%) 69(+35%)
3,342(+376)(+13%) 80(+16%)
3,728(+386)(+12%) 97(+21%)
Cases: The number of cases confirmed in Colorado.

Sources: Daily CDPHE reports,[69] Official Colorado COVID-19 Updates[70][71]
Note: Cases include people who test positive for COVID-19 and people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and are a close contact to someone who tested positive[70]

  1. ^ The state later moved to considering presumptive positive cases as positive, without requiring additional verification from the CDC.
  2. ^ As of this day, there is "one indeterminate case that public health is acting on as a presumptive positive." For this chart, this counts as an active case.
2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases in Colorado[72]

Updated 2 April 2020

County Confirmed Cases Deaths
Adams 260 7
Alamosa 4 0
Arapahoe 441 10
Archuleta 1 0
Baca 9 0
Bent 0 0
Boulder 132 2
Broomfield 30 2
Chaffee 18 2
Cheyenne 0 0
Clear Creek 3 0
Conejos 0 0
Costilla 3 0
Crowley 1 1
Custer 1 0
Delta 1 0
Denver 643 11
Dolores 0 0
Douglas 171 1
Eagle 314 4
El Paso 340 16
Elbert 5 0
Fremont 2 0
Garfield 43 1
Gilpin 0 0
Grand 4 0
Gunnison 86 1
Hinsdale 1 0
Huerfano 1 0
Jackson 0 0
Jefferson 385 9
Kiowa 0 0
Kit Carson 4 0
La Plata 24 0
Lake 2 0
Larimer 124 7
Las Animas 0 0
Lincoln 1 0
Logan 7 0
Mesa 17 0
Mineral 2 0
Moffat 4 0
Montezuma 3 1
Montrose 14 0
Morgan 7 0
Otero 3 0
Ouray 0 0
Park 3 0
Phillips 2 0
Pitkin 36 2
Prowers 0 0
Pueblo 26 2
Rio Blanco 0 0
Rio Grande 5 0
Routt 23 0
Saguache 3 0
San Juan 0 0
Miguel 7 0
Sedgwick 0 0
Summit 26 0
Teller 7 1
Washington 1 0
Weld 329 16
Yuma 2 0
Out of State Deaths 1
Unknown 144 0
Total 3728 97



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External links[edit]