DENVER (KDVR) — Governor Jared Polis held a special ceremony at the front steps of the Colorado Capitol on Friday evening.
The ceremony included guest speakers, a musical performance and guests in attendance who have lost loved ones from the virus. There was also a moment of silence for the nearly 6,000 lives lost in Colorado due to COVID-19.
Friday marks one full year since the first case of COVID-19 in Colorado, but a mathematical model constructed by the Colorado COVID Modeling Team suggests COVID-19 may have been in Colorado in January, three months before the state’s first case was officially confirmed.
There have been more than a half a million COVID-19 deaths in the United States since the pandemic began. Colorado managed to avoid the kind of death totals and deaths rates seen in other over the last year.
As of Wednesday, more than 431,000 people have tested positive in Colorado. Jill Spencer was the first COVID-19 patient treated at The Medical Center of Aurora in March 2020.
The 51-year-old from Chicago contracted COVID while vacationing in Vail and developed respiratory failure.
“I’m probably 90% back to who I was before all of this happened. I am overwhelmingly grateful more than anything else,” Spencer said.
The pandemic put an unprecedented strain on the hospital industry and medical workers across Colorado.
“We knew we were going to hit a big surge,” said Dr. Anuj Mehta, a pulmonologist at Denver Health who saw the sickest of those patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
“We overwhelmed, I think, the people resources, but luckily we never ran out of hospital beds or ventilators,” Mehta said.
The ceremony was streamed live on FOX31 and KDVR.com.
The Governor’s Office is asking Coloradans to illuminate their outdoor lights in magenta at 6 p.m. Friday as part of a Day of Remembrance.
“Magenta represents universal love: compassion and kindness,” the office said in a statement.
So far, the following local governments and buildings plan to illuminate their outdoor lights in magenta:
- Snowmass Village
- Blue River
- Glenwood Springs
- Colorado Springs
- Arapahoe County
- Denver Broncos – Empower Field at Mile High
- State Capitol
Programming note: Because this event is happening at 6:30 p.m., Wheel of Fortune will not air at it’s normal time. It will instead be broadcast overnight at 2:30 a.m.