Hi, Spot readers, I’m stepping in for Alex Burness today. This is the week that the coronavirus threatened to derail politics, the economy and everyday life — and it has certainly scrambled The Post’s coverage plans, political and otherwise.
News developments around the now-pandemic respiratory infection have accelerated quickly in the seven days since Colorado health officials announced the first confirmed cases in the state. The past two days alone brought a continuing slide in the financial markets, the suspension of the NBA and NHL seasons, a delay of MLB’s opening day, the cancellation of the NCAA’s remaining winter and spring championships — including March Madness — and President Donald Trump’s announcement of significant European travel restrictions.
So let’s take a deep breath.
Here is what public health officials, along with Gov. Jared Polis, have emphasized: Most people, especially those who are in good health and younger than 60, are not at high risk for hospitalization if they contract coronavirus. But recommendations for vigilant hand-washing and “social distancing” — avoiding crowds and big events — are important for everyone to follow. Those measures offer the best chance to slow the spread of the virus to those who are at higher risk, which in turn will reduce the chances that hospitals become overwhelmed with severe cases in coming weeks and months.
As of this afternoon, 44 cases have been confirmed in Colorado, a total that trails only the hardest-hit states. But totals are expected to grow quickly as more people are tested. “This will get worse before it gets better,” Polis predicted Wednesday, especially since public officials now have confirmation that the virus is spreading in the community.
We are starting to get the measure of the virus’ ramifications for politics, and I’m not talking about how it might affect the presidential election. Today, The Denver Post’s politics team examines how coronavirus is having an impact on activities such as door-to-door canvassing and petition gathering — and how it’s prompting the parties to question whether they should have their upcoming county assemblies.
In another story today, I looked more broadly at how coronavirus concerns are affecting our daily lives, in ways big and subtle. And Conrad Swanson takes a look at the quarantine and isolation orders that we may be hearing more about.
In this week’s Spot, Conrad and Saja Hindi examine how the coronavirus is affecting city and state government, Justin Wingerter reports on Senate candidate John Hickenlooper’s pitch to caucus-goers, and I look at what’s happening with Mike Bloomberg’s extensive Colorado operation now that he’s dropped out of the presidential race.
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Perhaps the most urgent question at the Capitol this week is not whether the legislative session will at some point be halted over the spread of coronavirus — it probably will, at least one top lawmaker believes — but what the public health emergency portends for the state budget.
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