COVID-19 update for April 8: Churches may offer “drive-in” Easter services, Polis says


The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was reporting 5,655 cases of COVID-19 — the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus — through April 7.

Statewide, 1,162 people have been hospitalized and 193 have died. In El Paso County, there have been 472 confirmed cases and 30 deaths.

“Our thoughts and our hearts go out to every family who’s experienced loss because of COVID-19 in Colorado,” Gov. Jared Polis said at a news conference April 8.

Polis said the state has “confidence” the stay-at-home order’s current end date of April 26 can remain in place.

“If people are failing to stay at home and mixing unnecessarily and spreading the virus, that [could] go longer,” he added.

Centura Health announced it is opening 7 locations — including Colorado Springs and Pueblo — offering COVID-19 testing for symptomatic first responders across Colorado.

“We’ve recognized the need for additional COVID-19 testing since the onset of this pandemic and are grateful that we now have the capacity to provide this testing to our first responder community. The value of knowing is priceless for first responders,” Dr. Shauna Gulley, Centura’s chief clinical officer, said in a statement.

“Our partners on the front line are presented with unique challenges because of the nature of their work and we want to ensure that they have the support and information they need to protect themselves, their loved ones and the community.

”Responder agencies interested in testing for their teams should email to receive special forms. First responders will need to bring the forms with them for testing.

The following locations are open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

● Colorado Springs: 3027 N. Circle Drive
● Pueblo: 4112 Outlook Blvd.
● Denver: 711 E. Yale Ave.
● Westminster: 7233 Church Ranch Blvd.
● Breckenridge: 555 S. Park Ave.
● Durango: 810 3rd St.
● Longmont: 1380 Tulip St.

Polis announced guidance for faith leaders for celebrating Easter and other large religious holidays.

Churches with adequate parking capacity that follow safety guidelines may offer “drive-in” services, as long as they follow social distancing and other safety procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Churches who want to coordinate such services should coordinate with their county health department, Polis said.

“It’s not for every church — most can reach more people better through streaming technologies — but certainly that’s available,” he added.

Church services can also be recorded or broadcast live using production crews of fewer than 10 people.

The Easter Sunrise Service at Red Rocks Amphitheatre will be pre-recorded and available on the Colorado Council of Churches website, no later than 6 a.m. Easter Sunday.

Rev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre, an ordained Southern Baptist preacher and a professor at Denver’s Iliff School of Theology, will deliver the sermon.

Colorado’s Unified Command announced two alternative care facilities — the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, and The Ranch, Larimer County Fairgrounds & Events Complex in Loveland — to shelter COVID-19 patients being transferred from hospitals and health care facilities. Combined, the two facilities will be able to hold around 3,000 patients.

The Army Corps of Engineers will begin construction at the two sites on April 10, according to a statement from the command center.

The command center plans to finalize leases with three additional alternative care sites by the end of this week, the statement also notes.

Such alternative care sites, which are being prepared to address an expected shortage of space at hospitals, will house “Tier 3” patients only.

Here’s how the tiers work:

● Tier 1: Patients with critical needs (those who need medical attention) are admitted into a critical care setting, such as an intensive care unit or medical nursing unit.
● Tier 2: As Tier 1 patients recover, they may be transferred to an ambulatory surgical center, free-standing emergency department, or critical access hospital for acute care.
● Tier 3: As Tier 2 patients recover further, they may be transferred to alternative care sites or medical shelters.
● Tier 4: Patients who are ready to go home but need to stay quarantined may be transferred to a hotel that has been converted to a medical shelter.

Local nonprofit Special Kids Special Families, which mainly serves kids and adults with disabilities, is offering behavioral health care for seniors via telehealth technology (phone or secure video).

Services include a mental health screening, diagnostic clinical evaluation, individual or family therapy and case management.

The nonprofit accepts Medicaid or CIGNA insurance, and the services are free for uninsured seniors. Contact Special Kids Special Families at (719) 447-8983 or visit for more information.

People experiencing a mental health crisis can contact Colorado Crisis Services 24/7, seven days a week. Call 1-844-493-TALK or text TALK to 38255 to speak with a trained professional. Chat services are also available from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. daily at

The federal Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to a company marketing “fraudulent and dangerous” chlorine dioxide products billed as a treatment for COVID-19.

“Despite previous warnings, the FDA is concerned that we are still seeing chlorine dioxide products being sold with misleading claims that they are safe and effective for the treatment of diseases, now including COVID-19,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

“The sale of these products can jeopardize a person’s health and delay proper medical treatment.”

Colorado Springs Business Journal Managing Editor Helen Robinson contributed reporting.