It's Friday, and we hope you had a great week.

Today marks a doleful moment in Colorado, but we try to bring you joy in this newsletter, too.

  • A special thanks to our readers who contributed to the first installment of our COVID-19 reflection project. A new question comes Monday and we want to hear from more of you.

Situational awareness: Denver Public Schools says it will expand in-person learning for middle and high school students "close to full strength" after spring break.

Today's newsletter is 946 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Where Colorado stands in COVID-19 battle

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Colorado is approaching 6,000 deaths related to COVID-19 — an unfathomable benchmark that comes one year after officials confirmed the first cases in the state.

The big picture: About one out of every 1,000 Coloradans “alive at the beginning of the pandemic fell victim to it,” according to the Colorado Sun.

The latest official numbers in Colorado:

  • Positive cases: 433,021, 7.5% of the population
  • Deaths: 5,960, 0.1%
  • Vaccinated (two doses): 521,567, 9%

How we compare: In the three major benchmarks, Colorado fares well in per capita rankings compared to other states, a pair of New York Times analyses show.

  • Positive cases: 39th
  • Deaths: 41st
  • Vaccination rate: 21st

What to watch: Colorado is one of 10 states with a rising case count through Tuesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, after a 12% increase in the 7-day average.

2. Reflecting on a where-were-you moment

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

March 5 — the day last year when officials confirmed the first coronavirus cases in the state — marks the first of many where-were-you moments this month in Colorado.

  • What to watch: The state of Colorado will host a virtual remembrance ceremony at 6:30 p.m. that includes an address from the governor. 9News plans to air it. A flyover will take place at the state Capitol at 4:30 p.m.

Our thought bubble: The pandemic year moved at a glacial pace as days seemed like weeks, but at the same time we consider it a lost year.

  • We asked readers: What were you thinking this time last year?

The most common initial response: This is no big deal.

  • "I was thinking that the situation is a little disturbing, but it's probably no biggie and will be over in just a matter of weeks," Samuel Li told us.
  • "This time last year I was thinking that the virus would last three months. Boy, was I wrong," Ken Crost adds.

We heard from some who were early COVID-19 patients and others who lost jobs. Amid all of it, thoughts turned to family.

  • "I'm so glad I got to visit my elderly parents though before everything closed down," Paul Galloway writes.
  • "Was my husband going to be allowed to be present at the birth of our first child? Scary times," says Jessica Lillquist.

3. Mayor Hancock signals break from politics

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock during an inauguration ceremony in 2019. Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock appears headed for a political exit once his third term ends in 2023 to "go enjoy family and life for a while and earn a decent living," he told Axios.

  • Between the lines: The mayor's salary is $179, 842 this year.

Yes, but: A congressional bid isn't out of the question, he told us, nor is a role in President Biden's administration.

  • "I would never say never to any of that," Hancock said.

Of note: The Denver Institute of Equity and Reconciliation won't be his landing pad post-mayorship. Hancock announced last summer he was establishing the think tank to become a "national leader" in addressing systemic racism.

  • "I'm sure I'll be involved in some way or the other, but no, that's not where I plan to go," he told us.

What to watch: Denver's 2023 mayoral race is a wide-open contest.

4. Season two of Colorado's best reality show

Two bald eagles, known as Dad and F420, perch in a nest Thursday at Standley Lake Regional Park & Wildlife Refuge in Westminster. Photo: Screenshot from the Eagle Cam

The plot is worthy of a bingeable — and spicy — Netflix drama. And it's back for season two.

  • Flashback: In season one, Mom is attacked by a home-wrecking Jolene and run out of town. An upset Dad tries to care for the family, but a child dies. When Mom doesn't return, Dad begins a relationship with Jolene.

Context: We're talking about the Standley Lake bald eagles, of course.

Why it matters: The season one drama — a live stream Eagle Cam, courtesy of the City of Westminster — captivated a locked-down Colorado last April and inspired numerous fan groups on Facebook.

  • The home-wrecking eagle is named F420 but became known as Jolene. "There's a lot of negativity around her," the park's naturalist, Lexie Sierra-Martinez, told the Denver Post.
  • And when Mom's eaglet — from an egg Mom laid before Jolene took over the nest — died, "we had people calling the nature center, crying. People are really invested," she added.

What's happening: In season two, which is now streaming live 24/7, F420 laid an egg as part of a union with the male eagle, known as Dad. She's expected to lay one or two more this season — for all to watch.

5. Listed: The city's most popular pups

Data: City and County of Denver; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

In Denver, dogs rule. So much so, it's estimated that the city is home to more fur babies than human ones.

A look at the city's 2020 dog registry shows the most popular breed is the short-haired Chihuahua. Labrador retrievers and German shepherds also led the list.

  • Dog owners self-report their pup's breed type, so the city's data relies on their word.

Yes, but: Denver Parks and Rec estimates 158,000 dogs in the city, per Denverite. But only about 12,500 are licensed, even though it's a legal requirement for all dogs and cats 6 months and older.

  • Fees generated through pet licensing are used to fund animal protection, including animal care and investigations of reported strays.

State of play: Denver Animal Protection is in the middle of a push to register more pets.

  • The city now offers a QR code-equipped pet license tag that allows people to scan it with a smartphone camera and get the owner's contact information, pet medical records and more.

6. Buy a beer for a worthy cause

An illustration featuring Jason Buehler, Denver Beer Co.'s former head brewer, and a commemorative beer can in his honor. Courtesy of Denver Beer Co.

The Colorado beer industry ended 2020 and started the new year with sadness after the deaths of two well-known brewers.

  • Denver Beer Co.'s head brewer Jason Buehler died in November in a hiking accident.
  • Bonfire Brewing co-founder Andy Jessen died in February from an avalanche.

What's happening: Both breweries are celebrating their lost loved ones with beer.

Denver Beer Co. just launched Sunrise Sensei to commemorate one of Buehler's 2015 award-winning beers and his ties to the Mexican craft beer community.

  • It's a black IPA with rosita de cacao, a Mexican flower known for its notes of chocolate, maple and orange.

Some beer purveyors near Bonfire's base in Eagle are selling six-packs in Jessen's memory.

  • One to try is the Rope Drop Hazy IPA, which Jessen once said was brewed to trigger the feeling of a powdery ski turn.

Of note: The proceeds from sales go to the brewers' families.

Our weekend picks:

⛷ John is jumping on these new skis at Vail this weekend.

🖤 Alayna booked tickets to visit this pop-up art installation, the Museum for Black Girls.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday. Tell your friends about Axios Denver! Subscribe here.