A week after declaring a state of emergency in Denver on March 12, Mayor Michael Hancock is praising Denver employees on the front lines of dealing with the coronavirus, while bashing President Donald Trump's response.
"It’s been a failure," Hancock says. "For too long, the president and his administration played as if this was not real and acted as if this was a hoax and tried to play politics."
Hancock notes that the United States is behind in testing for the coronavirus, and that Denver is still waiting on receiving more personal protective equipment from the feds. "We’re playing catch-up," he says.
The pressure has been intense on city staff working in the Denver Emergency Operations Center, which has been online since March 9. "This is a pretty heavy situation, and we are in the basement of the City and County Building," the mayor notes during a phone interview. "There's not a lot of natural sunlight coming in. We are trying to support each other."
But by March 17, the day all Denver restaurants, bars and other venues had been ordered closed, it "hit me," he says. "I felt very physically and mentally lethargic from a heavy day of dealing with this. It made me think about the people in the Emergency Operations Center."
Aside from offering praise for Denver employees on the front lines, Hancock also lauds the response of Governor Jared Polis. "We are seeing true leadership from Governor Polis. He’s been a tremendous partner. I speak to him daily," Hancock says.
While the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting everyone in Denver, today is particularly difficult for homeless individuals, who must also deal with the snow.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people stay six feet from one another, that's a difficult goal to achieve in shelters. But Hancock still prefers that the city continue enforcing the urban camping ban, which prevents people from sheltering themselves outside.
"We still have the rule in place," the mayor says. "Our number-one goal is to get people into shelter. And then we can get them the services they need. It doesn’t help for you to be sick on the street."
Times are also tough for the town's hospitality industry; local restaurants have already laid off thousands of workers.
"Those individuals are top of mind every day for us here in the city," Hancock says. "We are pulling together a strategy to try to help as much and as best we can in the city of Denver. Just know that the state as well as the city governments are going to do everything we can to help deal with the situation. It’s not lost on us how this impacts people's lives and livelihoods."