By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4)– Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was tested Monday for coronavirus after he said someone who works with him began showing signs of the illness.

“I did get tested and thankfully I was negative,” Hancock said during an interview with CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass. “I had someone who works with me actually started exhibiting symptoms and it gave us concern.”

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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock video chats with CBS4’s Brian Maass (credit: CBS)

He said the negative test result came back Tuesday and nobody else in his family was tested. The testing subject arose after Hancock said a dear friend had just died of COVID-19 and that other close friends were very sick from the virus.

”I know a family, several members, struggling with COVID-19. They’re on ventilators, they are fighting for their lives in ICU,” said Hancock.

In a wide ranging discussion, Hancock addressed not only the personal toll the virus has taken, but broader questions like the ”stay at home” order, financial impacts on the city and what may lie ahead.

He said the public health order, known as the “stay at home” order, was working. Hancock recounted driving around the city Thursday and termed the emptiness “eerie.”

(credit: CBS)

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The order, which went into effect Tuesday, was triggered by large crowds last weekend at Crestmoor Park and Washington Park, said Hancock.

He said that “caused a great deal of concern” and dictated an increase in the city’s response to the pandemic.

“We’re not pulling folks over or anything like that,” said Hancock.

(credit: CBS)

But he said if you are out and about you might be approached by a park ranger, a public health inspector or a police officer reminding you of the order. He said the city first wants to educate the public before moving toward any kind of enforcement action like a citation or a fine. But he said if someone is caught “operating a business, we can literally shut down your business.”

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But he emphasized that was a last resort, “We don’t want to take those steps.”

Hancock recounted one friend who “takes the position my actions are over the line, but I have to tell you, more people are grateful for our actions. The reality is that if we don’t do anything, it’s going to get worse.”

While the order runs until April 10, the Mayor suggested it may not necessarily end then.

”This is going to be a long journey for all of us. This is not going to go away in 30, 45 days. We’re in this for the long term.”

He said the financial impact on the city has already been significant with $6 million drawn from the general fund to cover unanticipated costs related to the pandemic. Beyond that, with 60% of city revenue from sales taxes according to Hancock, and so many businesses shut down, ”It’s going to be a huge impact” with city revenues greatly impacted.

Noting that DIA traffic was down 90%, Hancock said, “If people aren’t visiting Denver and there’s no tourism, we are going to see some great economic impacts and that’s exactly what we are looking at.”

He said the city is looking at an array of measures to counteract the economic hit including cutting capital expenditures, a hiring freeze, cutting general fund spending and expediting construction projects which he said, “Keep the whole ecosystem of the economy moving.“

Hancock told CBS4 the Army Corps of Engineers is “on the ground to identify a location for a mass illness hospital, if we have to stand up a mass illness hospital.”

He said area hospitals are currently operating within capacity, but he believes that could change quickly.

“Tomorrow we could see what we’re seeing in New York very quickly with ICUs being maxed out”

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Hancock said across the board, the city will soon have some “hard decisions to make.”

Brian Maass