Cities declare emergency in COVID-19's wake

Schools cancel classes, offer meals and help for students

Staff Report
Posted 3/12/20

Three presumptive COVID-19 positive cases in Adams County were reported March 12 according to Tri County Health.

The cases involve a Northglenn woman in her 30s with no recent history of …

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Cities declare emergency in COVID-19's wake

Schools cancel classes, offer meals and help for students

A day after three Adams County women were declared to be presumptive positive with COVID-19, the City of Thornton declared a public emergency and closed all public facilities until further notice.
That announcement made just after 2 p.m. March 13 capped a day of closures and similar announcements. The City of Westminster issued a similar declaration March 12 and local schools and events announced cancellations due to the spread of the disease and the Coronavirus blamed for it.
In Thornton, the Margaret W. Carpenter Recreation Center, Trail Winds Recreation Center, the Thornton Community Center, the Thornton Active Adult Center, Riverwalk batting cages and Thorncreek Golf Course were all to be closed March 14. 
All city buildings, including City Hall, will be closed beginning March 16 for at least two weeks. Thornton spokesman Todd Barnes said the city will consider reopening those buildings then.
The City of Northglenn issued a similar declaration, closing city buildings and facilities.
"It sets us up to be reimbursed for funding and things like that," Northglenn spokesperson Diana Wilson. "It's tough. You don't want people out spreading germs. And now they've canceled schools, so we have to close the Rec  Centers because people will just flock there."
In Westminster, Mayor Herb Atchison signed an emergency declaration on March 12 that will last for seven days. The City Council is scheduled to host a special meeting Monday, March 16 to consider extending that emergency declaration beyond a week, according to Westminster's Communication Manager Ryan Hegreness. City Recreation and other facilities are closed and City Hall will be closed.
Hegreness said the City Councilors are also scheduled to discuss closing future meetings to the public.
"In the event that we need to close future council meetings to the public or that we need to use telecommunications for City Council meetings or to conduct Council business, our code does not provide that ability," Hegreness said. "We are not saying it's something we plan to do, but we want to have those provisions in place if we have to discontinue public gatherings in the future."
Three cases
Three presumptive COVID-19 positive cases in Adams County were reported March 12 according to Tri County Health.
The cases involve a Northglenn woman in her 30s with no recent history of traveling, a woman in her 60s from Westminster who was traveling recently and a Brighton woman in her 30s, according to a Tri County Health press release. According to Tri County, it's not known how the Brighton woman was exposed to the virus. The Northglenn woman has hospitalized but Tri County officials would not say where.
“We are just learning of these positive tests from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and have begun contact investigations to determine if there were any other potential exposures,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department.
The three cases are considered presumptive positive because the initial testing was done at the state level. The test results must be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Teacher sick
Meanwhile, public schools in the area announced extended spring breaks for their students, closing the buildings through March 27.
Adams County School District 27-J Superintendent Chris Fiedler announced  March 13 that it is suspending classes at all schools due to a presumptive positive test result.
Riverdale Ridge High School in eastern Thornton and Reunion Elementary in Commerce City were closed through March 27, the end of the district's Spring Break and the district expanded that closure to all schools on March 13.
Tracy Rudnik, director of communications for School District 27J, said the classes were canceled because a Riverdale Ridge teacher was out sick. The teacher had been sick at home for the past week and has had no contact with students or other staff since then. The teacher has a relative who works at the Reunion Elementary who has not tested positive for the virus. Rudnik said she did not know if the Riverdale Ridge teacher was among the three in Adams County who were considered presumptive positive.
"In Reunion, it is not a definite that the person will test positive, and the Riverdale Ridge teacher had stayed home because they were not feeling well," Rudnik said. "So Tri County feels that our risk is very low, but we wanted to take preventative measures."
Rudnik said staff will be cleaning and sanitizing the entire Riverdale Ridge building, beginning Monday, March 16.
"We felt we needed to do this as a preemptive measure, with other schools and districts closing, for the safety of everybody," Rudnik said.
Chromebooks and meals
Adams 12 announced that all school building activities including school day instruction, BASE and PEAK programs, preschool, athletics/sports, health services and enrichment would close beginning March 16, with the buildings scheduled to reopen March 27.
In an effort to help students that rely on the schools for breakfasts and lunches, the Adams 12 district will be distributing meals daily between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning March 17 at the district's high schools. Students do not need to fill out paperwork to get a meal and the meals will be meant to be picked up and eaten elsewhere.
Westminster Public Schools announced it was shutting down all classes and schools between March 16 and 30 or later but would be allowing students to take Chromebooks home. Parents or guardians need to sign the paperwork, available at the district's Coronavirus information page online at, to allow their children to take the computers home.
First Colorado death
The state announced the first case of COVID-19 in a Jefferson County resident March 10, a man in his 50s who was isolated in a medical facility and was in stable condition, according to Jefferson County Public Health.
A female teenager in Denver also tested positive, the state announced that evening. As of March 12, the state had announced 49 presumptive positive cases of the disease in Colorado since testing started.
The state announced the first Colorado death from the disease March 13 in El Paso county.
The Colorado High School Activities Association also suspended all spring sports and activities through April 6, according to a March 12 news release. CHSAA initially made the decision to dramatically limit the number of people allowed to attend the state high school basketball championships this weekend but expanded to an outright cancellation of events on March 13.
The World Health Organization — the United Nations' health agency — on March 11 classified COVID-19 as a pandemic, which means an outbreak of illness with a sustained transmission, or spread, on more than one continent.
Coronavirus, COVID-19, Adams County, Tri County Health


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