DENVER (AP) — Colorado got a flyover to salute health care workers and others responding to the coronavirus outbreak and to boost morale.
The Colorado Air National Guard launched F-16 Fighting Falcons from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora on Wednesday afternoon. Their first destination was the Sterling Correctional Facility, home of one of the state's largest COVID-19 outbreaks, before flying over Greeley, Fort Collins, Vail, Aspen, Estes Park and surrounding areas. From there, they flew over the Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo areas. Their route took them over many hospitals and rehabilitation centers but also distribution centers for Walmart and Amazon.
“So many of our community members, Coloradans and fellow Americans have experienced overwhelming hardship as a result of this invisible enemy, and we hope that the sound of freedom will inspire a sense of community and optimism,” said Air Force Col. Micah Fesler, commander of the 140th Wing of the Colorado Air National Guard.
The Sterling prison has 262 inmates and 15 workers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and one death, according to state health data released Wednesday. The JBS USA beef plant in Greeley is the site of the largest outbreak with 280 confirmed cases and seven deaths.
Gov. Jared Polis said during a news conference Wednesday that JBS has been working with Weld County health officials to make sure employees are wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines at work, and he encouraged the company to test its entire workforce.
“We would certainly work with JBS on testing all employees, which was part of their original plan. And then, unfortunately, they did back away from that and chose to be closed for 14 days instead,” Polis said.
The state tested more than 1,000 people at a site set up in a park near the plant.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.