COLORADO SPRINGS — The coronavirus spread quickly throughout China, after the first known case appeared in Wuhan, in December. From there, we watched anxiously, as reports tracked the virus’ path across borders as international travelers unintentionally spread the infection around the world.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first confirmed cases of coronavirus appeared in the U.S. on January 14.
Governor Jared Polis held a press conference on March 5, to announce the virus had made its way to Colorado.
With those orders, restaurants, and retailers, salons and barbershops, gyms, movie theaters, and more have closed their doors or made drastic changes to how and when they conduct sales.
Schools announced shifts from learning in the classroom to logging onto the web, and learning from home for the rest of the year.
Many workers have lost their jobs or a significant amount of wages, and they’re filing for unemployment in record numbers.
The Federal government extended the tax-filing deadline to July 15 and issued economic impact payments for most Americans.
‘Overcoming COVID-19‘, a FOX21 Digital NOW special series, assessed the effects of the pandemic in Colorado Springs with insight from local experts, including an economist, business owners, and a therapist.
“We know that when you spend money locally, more of that dollar stays in the local economy,” said Laurel Prud’Homme, Vice President of Communications for Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs.
That means a higher percentage of the money we spend supporting locally-owned businesses funnels into the city’s general fund, which helps pay police officers, fill potholes and more.
“What we know is that when a downtown is strong, the rest of the community is strong,” said Prud’Homme. “There’s more sales tax generated in one square mile of downtown than any other square mile of the city.”
That means it’s crucial to support those businesses right now, as well as when the stay-at-home order is eventually lifted.
“This kind of situation is when we’re all really, I think, called to kind of stir up what’s within us. Our own gifts, our own abilities,” said Russ Ware, who owns Good Neighbors Meeting House along with Yemi Mobolade.
They’ve created a new model for their restaurant in the Patty Jewett neighborhood of Colorado Springs, and are now operating a food market in addition to their still-running kitchen and bar.
And other restaurant owners have made similar adjustments.
Over at MacKenzie’s Chop House, customers can pick up the perfect T-bone steak and cook it at home; Ashley’s Attic is making sales in a unique way, over FaceTime. Terra Verde is also doing hybrid-online shopping, where if you see something you like on social media, you can call them and they will ship the item to you, or let you pick it up at the curb. Mountain Chalet is setting up personal shopping tours by phone, Bella Salon is dropping off curbside color kits so you can touch up your roots, Black Sheep is hosting virtual concerts and Kimball’s Theatre is streaming feature films.
Keeping your dollars in this community, benefits us all.
And resources are available to help small business owners, struggling to keep their doors open, as well as service industry employees who’ve found themselves out of work for, as now, an unknown period of time.
Across the country, tens of thousands of those workers in about 275 cities have signed up for serviceindustry.tips. The site randomly generates the name of an out-of-work service industry employee and allows users to donate tips, of any amount, directly to that employee.
Aaron Maynard is a local admin for the website. “In Colorado Springs, we have about 650 workers signed up,” he said.
“We’ve got almost sixty thousand page views since we started, and almost a thousand tips have been given in just Colorado Springs.”
Plus, the Downtown Partnership and a newly created site called Support the Springs have identified which businesses are open, where they are, how to buy their products, how to volunteer, and how to donate to organizations that will help them.
Then there’s the inevitable impact on our local housing market, an effect FOX21 Digital NOW examined with the help of Laura Nelson. Nelson is Executive Director for the Apartment Association of Southern Colorado, a regional trade association that works with owners, managers, and suppliers in the rental housing industry.
“Those who can pay rent should continue to pay rent,” she advised. “Evictions will still go through once this pandemic is over and the courts are open again.”
To address the mental and emotional toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on so many of us, FOX21 Digital NOW checked in with Dannie De Novo, a happiness coach in Colorado Springs.
De Novo talked about the effects of lonliness, something you may experience during isolation or quarantine.
“Now, more and more research is being done on the physical end,” De Novo said. “They’re saying [lonliness] is as detrimental to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, that it increases your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, [and] heart disease.”
Your best bet, she says, is to create a schedule and stick to it. Remember, the stay-at-home order does not bar you from getting outside to exercise, just do so at a safe distance (at least six feet) from others.
If you find yourself still feeling disconnected, stressed out, or depressed, resources, including virtual counseling, are available.