Hi again Roseman ...
If your temps drop down to the point where your roses die from cold, it makes sense that you do need to winter protect them. You don't need to worry about fungal diseases for dead roses ...
Unlike other colder climates, you do not have to cover them completely, but do need to mound them up. General practice is to wait until until the first hard frost and then mound them up about a foot. (The reason for that is so that rodents don't make nests in your winter protection mounds ..
) The canes may die back to the level of the top of the protective mound, but you will have protected the bud union which will allow the rose to grow back.
You don't prune your HTs in spring until the forsythia blooms. The forsythia is an indicator plant that is used world wide that has let rosarians know when to prune since forever.
I would hold off digging around the base of your roses. The feeder roots which supply nutrients and moisture to the top growth are located in the top 12 to 6 inches of the soil. The plant needs those roots to get going in spring, so it's wise not to damage them at this time.
From the looks of your roses in the photos, they do not look like they are ready to break dormancy, nor do they look all that sad for roses that were not winter protected. You do have some clean up work to do when it is time to prune them, but I think you probably need to wait a couple of weeks. Look for swelling of the bud eyes on the canes. You don't need to dig down to check them out.
I don't know what the temperatures are in your garden or what soil you have, so to advise you as to what food you should use right now is kind of tricky for me. There are a lot of opinions about what is best. Organics take warmer soil and ambient air temps to be broken down by the soil bacteria into a form that the rose can use, and chemical fertilizers, if used incorrectly can cause problems. You do not have to buy special rose food ... thats marketing .... because roses can't read and don't know that you are giving them special food. A lot of what you use to feed any plant in your garden depends on the fertility of your soil. What works well for me may be wrong for you.
When I am preparing my roses for spring, I clear the area around the rose from all weeds and old mulch, which will contain disease spores held over winter the last from last season. I like to add horse manure to my mulch because I have found that it does improve my soil. Others skip this step. Most often, I put down about two inches of shredded oak leaves that will cover the whole area under the canopy of the rose. This inhibits weed growth and as the leaves break down, the compost feeds the soil. You can purchase regular compost for this purpose, but I live in the mountains, so I went to a friend's place and bagged up her oak leaves for my garden. The mulch also helps maintain moisture during the growing season when you water.
If a hard freeze is predicted, for young roses, you may want to mound up the new growth, but established roses seem to come through with little damage in my garden.
There are a lot of right ways to grow roses. If you put ten rose gardeners in a room and ask a question, you will often get ten different answers. Some of it is based on our personal experience in gardens with climates that do not have soils like yours and with completely different roses.
It always comes down to, "It depends on the rose." Some hybrid teas are very strong plants, while others will need a lot of TLC because they are lousy plants with beautiful blooms.
Young roses always need more care than they will once they mature into established plants. In a way it's kind of like planting a tree. A sapling takes time to mature into a tree. A young rose takes time to mature into a viable rose garden plant. Many roses just don't make it that far.
Good luck with your roses.