By Faith Miller
As of 4 p.m. April 10, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was reporting 6,510 cases of COVID-19, along with 1,312 hospitalizations and 250 deaths. In El Paso County, there have been 550 cases and 33 deaths. (That data is current through April 9.)
Gov. Jared Polis held a news conference April 10 outside the Colorado Convention Center, where he said construction had been underway for the last 48 hours on an alternative care facility to house recovering COVID-19 patients who may need to be transferred from hospitals to accommodate more people.
Polis stressed that all Coloradans, even those who don’t have preexisting medical conditions or older people who are more at risk, should continue to take precautions against the coronavirus by staying at home except for essential travel and business, and wearing a mask outside.
“Of course we mourn victims of all ages, but to highlight how this virus can strike down anybody in their prime, we lost in the last couple of days 21-year-old Cody Lyster,” Polis said. Lyster, a baseball player at Colorado Mesa University, is one of the youngest people to die from COVID-19 in Colorado.
Polis also promoted a website that was recently launched by the state, stayathomeco.colorado.gov. The website features free wellness, education and entertainment resources for people under self-quarantine.
“If you can provide [online] services for free to your fellow Coloradans in this crisis, you can sign up to do that” through the website, Polis added.
In El Paso County, 9,801 people filed for unemployment benefits the week ending March 28, according to new data released by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. For comparison, 2,869 people filed the week ending March 21, and 328 people filed the week ending March 14.
For those out of work, the Pikes Peak Workforce Center is holding a virtual job fair through April 30. The workforce center also offers assistance to those filing for unemployment.
The El Paso County Economic Development Division launched a new program, the Pikes Peak Enterprise Zone Business Relief Fund, aimed at assisting small businesses affected by COVID-19.
“Small businesses within the Pikes Peak Enterprise Zone will have access to grants up to $7,500,” the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC explains the new program in a statement. “The funds will focus on critical assistance for needs such as rent or mortgage assistance, utility payments, employee payroll, accounts payable, etc. The grant funds will work in conjunction with both Federal and State assistance already available to small businesses.”
More information about the program, including how to apply or donate funds for an income tax credit, is available online.
The Colorado Unified Command Group announced it has issued purchase orders for more than $46.2 million worth of medical supplies, including ventilators and personal protective equipment, for health care facilities and local government agencies.
“Once the supplies arrive and testing has verified quality, the state will begin distributing them throughout the state to fulfill resource requests from local emergency management and public health agencies, including hospitals,” a statement from the Command Group said. “PPE will be distributed according to the state’s PPE Allocation and Distribution guide, which prioritizes health care workers, first responders and critical infrastructure workers.”
The Colorado Business Emergency Operations Center is coordinating requests for supplies and donations online.
People who wish to volunteer time or donate to statewide COVID-19 relief efforts can also visit helpcoloradonow.com. Or, donations to the Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s COVID19 Emergency Relief Fund at ppcf.org/relief will assist local efforts.
The Air Force Academy announced details for the upcoming April 18 graduation of senior cadets, which was moved up earlier than usual and will be stripped of its usual fanfare.
“Cadets will be strictly adhering to social distancing guidelines for the ceremony, marching 6 feet apart and sitting 8 feet apart during the event,” the Academy announced. “The Air Force Thunderbirds will conduct a flyover of the ceremony, but will not perform their traditional aerobatics demonstration at the conclusion of the ceremony.”
Vice President Mike Pence will give the commencement address via video message, the statement adds, and spectators won’t be allowed at the ceremony.
With the help of an $8 million donation from Lyda Hill Philanthropies, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs plans to create the National Resilience Institute, which will “focus on the health and well-being of all trauma survivors with specialty expertise for those who put their lives on the line: veterans, military members, first responders and their family members,” the university announced April 9.
“Beyond the targeted focus on these military and first responder groups, cross-disciplinary scientific exploration will focus on developing resilience more broadly for individuals, families and communities,” adds the statement from UCCS.
The university needs to raise an additional $7.75 million to make the institute a reality. In the meantime, UCCS on April 10 announced the launch of the Greater Resilience Information Toolkit, a website that contains resources for mental health workers, first responders, medical providers and community members to help build resilience in the face of difficult circumstances — such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through that website, community members can also apply to become GRIT Coaches, who will go through a virtual training with “information and skills on general and COVID-19 stress, resilience, disaster recovery, skills, support and small interventions to enable a GRIT Coach to educate, support and motivate individuals and communities to be as resilient as they can be in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent precautions.”