Normally, I use this column to talk about the stories that you might have missed between commuting, errands, school concerts, and all the stuff that typically fills our calendar. But I know you didn’t miss March’s biggest story: COVID-19.
During the first week of March, we began to learn about the earliest known cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. We were still complaining about adjusting to Daylight Saving Time (ah, simpler times) when Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency on March 10. By the end of that week, Denver Public Schools had announced an extended spring break. On March 14, a day after the state’s first death related to the virus, ski resorts were shut down. Dine-in restaurants were closed statewide on March 16 and Mayor Michael Hancock issued a stay-at-home order for Denver on March 23 (it took effect the next day). More municipalities followed and on March 26, a statewide stay-at-home went into effect. Which brings us to….
Folks: It is April!
And it looks like this month is going to bring its own challenges and grief. Which is why I’m doing something a little different with the ICYMI series this month. Yes, I’ll give you a quick recap of (mostly) non-COVID-19 stories, but I’m going to expand the “News to Smile About” section to highlight some of the March stories that made me and 5280 staffers pause, reflect, laugh, and remember the people who make Colorado feel like home.
The News Reel
- After a poor showing on Super Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the Democratic Party’s presidential primary race, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to debate (from a social-distanced six feet apart) on March 15. Meanwhile, Colorado held precinct caucuses earlier in the month and Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff came out in the lead, meaning that he will have more representation at the state assembly (scheduled for April 18; it will likely be a virtual event). The primary ballot—for this and other races—is far from final as counties are still conducting virtual assemblies and petition signatures are still being counted.
- A section of C-470 is now the Kendrick Castillo Memorial Highway in honor of the 18-year-old who died in the 2019 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.
- In the latest chapter of an ongoing saga over renovations, Denver International Airport paid out a total of $184 million in a settlement to terminate its relationship with Great Hall Partners.
- Gov. Polis signed the CROWN Act, championed by Colorado Rep. Leslie Herod, Rep. Janet Buckner, and Sen. Rhonda Fields, to end discrimination based on hair texture, type, and style.
- Suncor Energy, which has an oil refinery in Commerce City, will pay as much as $9 million because of air-pollution violations in recent years. (In December, the company offered free car washes when an “operational upset” emitted ash.)
- On March 23, Gov. Polis signed SB20-100, which repeals Colorado death penalty, and commuted the sentences of three people on Death Row.
News to Smile About
- Let’s all put the Colorado Symphony’s Ode to Joy—performed by 49 socially distanced members—on repeat. I re-watched it as the sun rose this morning and I just might need to make that a daily ritual.
- We keep hearing more and more ways that neighborhoods are supporting each other and bonding—at a safe distance. One 5280 editor walked past a stuffed animal zoo on a nearby street with her toddler. In Littleton, there was a drive-by St. Patrick’s Day parade. And other people are creating signs showing support for delivery drivers and essential workers.
- Conor McGahey, who normally calls Colorado Avalanche games, has turned his attention to play-by-play analysis of cat fights. Meanwhile, Chad Yetka with Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery is dressing up in costumes for curbside deliveries (follow #whatschadwearing on Instagram).
- Makers are going to make, so distillers are producing hand sanitizer. And, inspired by home sewers who were sewing face masks, Denver Mattress has converted a factory to, eventually, produce thousands of face masks.
- People stepped up to foster animals, artists created emergency funds for other artists, religious groups livestreamed services, and the hospitality industry kept feeding people through it all.
- From doctors and nurses to construction workers and delivery drivers, there is an army of people keeping our essential services running. Fortunately, they now have free childcare to keep doing what they are doing. (Here are some more ways that Coloradans are helping healthcare workers.)
(MORE: Read last month’s ICYMI)