[Note: this was originally released on Wednesday, March 11th. Since then, the Governor and Mayor have issued new statements not reflected here.]
COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, has reached Denver. First found in China, it has now crossed the world and is having an impact on global, national, state, and local businesses and people. In some ways, COVID-19 is like the flu: it’s a virus, and things we can do to avoid contracting COVID-19 are similar to what we can do to avoid getting the flu. Unlike the flu (which has been around for a long time), COVID-19 is new and unknown. It seems to be infecting people more than the flu might, and the mortality rate seems to be higher than the flu, but the real challenge is that we just don’t know much about what it actually is versus what little bits of evidence we have right now.
Several CU School of Medicine professors have delivered a letter to our office. In the letter, they shared that their colleagues have identified that fatality rates are “10-fold higher” than the flu based on early data from countries such as Italy. Also, countries such as Italy have had their hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases that are in addition to their standard caseload. They report “a key danger of the COVID-19 pandemic is that seemingly healthy individuals can still be infected and can still spread the virus on to others.” Again, this is data based on limited knowledge of and experience with this virus, but our office feels it’s important to consult with subject matter experts – like these scientists – and share with you their professional expertise. (Their complete letter is here.)
So, out of an abundance of caution, we’re sharing with you what the District 10 office is doing and what we know the city of Denver is doing regarding COVID-19.
Denver’s Perfect 10: what we’re doing
We have direct control over what the District 10 office does.
Out of an abundance of caution, until further notice, the Denver City Council, District 10 office is telecommuting for all nonessential meetings. I will be physically present for City Council and Committee meetings unless otherwise directed, and all stakeholder meetings will be redirected to tele-meetings when possible. That includes using technology from phones to email to teleconference to videoconference.
For now, the best way to reach the District 10 office is via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit https://denvergov.org/district10/ to get more information about the emails for each staff member and the subject matter expertise for each staff member.
What Denver is doing
The District 10 office is in the legislative branch, and the majority of operations conducted by Denver employees report ultimately to the Mayor in the executive branch. We are advocating for a strong approach for Denver. That includes working with the Mayor, Denver employees, and its citizens. The ultimate decision concerning Denver employees and public closures rests with the Mayor.
Denver has prepared a website specifically for COVID-19 information, data, and frequently asked questions. You can find the website here: https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/environmental-health/news/coronavirus-info.html . This website has information in American Sign Language and Spanish and might have additional translations soon as they become available.
Denver is also canceling all nonessential meetings until further notice. That includes public comment sessions and stakeholder meetings. Many Denver organizations are moving to other methods of interaction, including setting up teleconference calls and web surveys, so please check the website for the various stakeholder group or Denver entity to see how to provide input.
Denver’s Department of Public Health and Environment is also installing 30 handwashing stations around the urban core to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our densest areas of the city. Those stations will be available for anyone who wants to use them.
Furthermore, Denver City Council unanimously voted in committee this week to authorize $3.5 million in funds for mobile restrooms, portable toilets, and handwashing stations to be distributed throughout the city across various city agencies, including in our parks and in certain key locations throughout Denver. This funding authorization will be moving to the full Council in the next week or two for a vote by the body.
What we can’t do
We’ve received requests to close schools and buses. We encourage you to reach out to your elected official for each of those organizations if you have comments for them:
- Denver Public Schools has its own elected Board.
- The University of Colorado system has its own elected Board.
- RTD also has its own elected Board.
What you can do
First, sign up for our newsletter – and encourage others to do so, too – so we can give you updates as necessary. You can sign up here: https://lists.denverperfect10.com/subscription/hd8NsAZqf?locale=en-US .
Here are some simple things you can do:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Additionally, you can…
- “Flatten the curve” of transmission by working from home when possible (and, for employers, strongly considering policies that include working from home where possible). This also includes rethinking working from a coffee shop, going to the gym, etc.
- Practice “social distancing” which is creating space between yourself and others. We don’t have guidance from the Federal level on exactly what that means in the US, but Italy’s guidance is spacing 1 meter (about 3 feet) apart whenever possible.
Denver has prepared a quick guide for your reference:
Denver Health has also prepared a guide in several languages: