Centennial, Arapahoe sheriff's office, public agencies make COVID-19 closures, adjustments

South Suburban rec facilities, Arapahoe Libraries also closed as several Arapahoe County residents test positive for coronavirus illness


This story was updated March 22.

The City of Centennial declared a local disaster emergency due to COVID-19, the disease caused by a widespread coronavirus, on March 16.

The declaration authorizes the request of aid and assistance from other agencies and allows for coordination with federal, state and county emergency entities and public health agencies regarding the response to COVID-19 for the city, a Centennial news release said.

Arapahoe County had 15 people total who tested positive for the virus  — 131 people statewide — as of March 15, and Colorado's first death from COVID-19 was announced over the weekend: a woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions who resided in El Paso County.

It's likely that "ongoing community transmission" — spread of the virus from person to person — is occurring in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, as well as other parts of the Denver metro area and state, Tri-County Health Department said in a news release. Tri-County covers Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office is leading the emergency response in Arapahoe County in coordination with Tri-County, the release said.

The City of Centennial suspended its meetings and some other city functions and events as of March 13 until further notice, including municipal court, passport appointments, Senior Commission and Active Senior events, weekly "meet the mayor" meetings, boards and commission meetings, and reservations at Centennial Center Park and the Centennial Community Room. The March 16 city council meeting was also canceled.

Centennial also closed all city buildings to the public, effective March 17. Services such as law enforcement, snow and ice mitigation, road repair, and signal light maintenance will continue to be provided, a city news release said.

"This is a time where we need to take care of one another and respect the recommendations we receive about distancing ourselves from one another," Mayor Stephanie Piko wrote in an online letter to the community. "In the end, it will be impossible to know if we overreacted or did too much, but it will be very apparent if we underreacted or did too little."

By March 13, the Arapahoe County had seven people total who tested positive for the virus. It's likely that "ongoing community transmission" — spread of the virus from person to person — is occurring in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, as well as other parts of the Denver metro area and state, Tri-County said in a news release.

School districts take action

All schools in the Cherry Creek School District will be closed March 13 through March 27 — through the week after spring break — amid concerns about COVID-19, the district’s superintendent announced in an online letter.

During the closure, the district does not have "an expectation of specific learning that must take place." Cherry Creek Schools is exploring the capabilities of providing online learning if the closure extends beyond two weeks.

"The success of remote learning depends on the district’s ability to ensure all students have equal access to the learning and required materials, including technology," the district's website says.

The school district launched a hand-washing campaign in its schools and placed hand sanitizer at the entrance to all of its schools and buildings — along with a sign asking people to stay home when sick, wash hands often, get a flu shot, and use hand sanitizer when they enter and leave the building.

It's also doing “high-touch” cleaning of schools with disinfectant and additional cleaning of buses. “High-touch surfaces” is a term for things people touch often, such as rails or tables.

Cherry Creek has a core group of district leaders that make up its Pandemic Planning Executive Team, which meets every day to monitor the situation and to plan for a potential impact on the district.

Littleton Public Schools also is closed until at least March 30, the district announced March 12.

South Suburban shuts down

South Suburban Parks and Recreation District temporarily closed its facilities to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The closure went into effect with most facilities the night of March 13, a district news release said. Golf courses were to follow the next day. The closures were expected to last through March 27 but were scheduled to be reevaluated on March 19.

It includes all recreation centers, golf courses, tennis facilities, sports domes, entertainment and community centers, ice arenas, and the cancellation of all programs, classes and camps.

South Suburban plans to deep-clean facilities, the release said. No cases of COVID-19 had been reported at district facilities as of March 13.

Credits will be issued for patrons who have already signed up for classes, programs or camps, according to the release.

Positive COVID-19 test at library

All Arapahoe Libraries locations closed as of March 14 until March 31.

Libraries will not accept material returns during the closure and due dates for materials will be extended beyond the closure, the library district said in a news release.

All programs, classes, storytimes, book clubs, meetings and events were to be canceled from March 14 to April 12.

The district announced a presumptive positive test result for COVID-19 associated with Smoky Hill Library.

"We are working closely with the public health department," Oli Sanidas, the library district's executive director, said in the release. "Based on information from public health officials, all impacted individuals at Smoky Hill Library have been contacted and the risk to others is very low."

Streets at SouthGlenn still open

Centennial's flagship shopping development at South University Boulevard and East Arapahoe Road remains open.

"We are following the official guidance from federal, state and local health officials and they have told us that closing the mall is not a recommended action at this time," SouthGlenn's website says.

The mall has intensified its existing cleaning protocol, including ramping up cleaning efforts of all commonly touched surfaces such as seating, doors, handrails, elevators and directories, the site says.

Don't come to sheriff's office

The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office asked citizens not to come to its Centennial headquarters to report crimes, pay traffic fines or request public records and instead use its online services. Those links can be found on the sheriff’s homepage at www.arapahoesheriff.org.

The sheriff’s office suspended the concealed handgun permit process and fingerprinting conducted at its headquarters at 13101 E. Broncos Parkway in the Centennial area through March 27. That applies to new, renewed or retired permits, the sheriiff's website says. No new applications will be accepted during this two-week period. After March 27, the sheriff will re-evaluate whether to begin reissuing permits and fingerprinting.

Fire agency response

South Metro Fire Rescue is altering some of its protocols in response to the outbreak, said Jon Adams, the agency's assistant chief of operations.

South Metro set up an incident support team, Adams said, similar to teams set up to respond to wildfires or natural disasters, which meets twice weekly to discuss developments.

The agency has also modified its dispatcher call scripts to inquire about COVID-19 symptoms and signs, including flu-like symptoms and recent international travel.

If a caller may be at risk for COVID-19, responding crews will only send in two personnel instead of up to six on a normal call, Adams said.

South Metro is fully stocked with protective and sanitary equipment, Adams said.

“We're well ahead of this,” Adams said.


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