April 15, 2020 – Governor Jared Polis addressed reporters and his state Wednesday afternoon, saying that he is pressed to make some hard decisions in coming days and weeks, and that he will be announcing several days before April 26th, his extended stay-at-home order deadline, about how he will gradually open Colorado to more business and social activities.
He warned that Colorado residents will be disappointed that he can’t just lift all safety measures starting on April 27th, allowing residents of our state back to the norm instantly. He said his changes to regulations won’t be like instantly turning the lights back on – that there’s no magic wand – and that it’ll be more like using a dimmer to gradually turn the lights up with time.
Gov Polis said he hopes the public takes the criitcal next few days and weeks seriously so that our state can more quickly move from the “urgency” stage” into an unknown period of stabilization and then recovery, which he expects will last an unknown time frame of at least two months to possibly even nearly a year.
He said there are now 348 reported deaths to Covis-19 in the state to-date and that his social distancing through the stay-at-home order has at least slowed down the spread of the virus and has likely prevented many more deaths. He showed a chart, saying that Colorado appears to be leveling off in the past week, and such data will continued to be analyzed and integrated into his planning for our future.
Gov Polis said however that he isn’t sure about the recent data, which is lagging by days, is indicating a real plateau and if we’ll now see a downward trend in the number of new cases each day from here on – or if there could be a higher peak. Because of how highly contagious Covid-19 is, he said that there will be many months where social and physical distancing methods will be important.
While officials will be keeping an close eye on Covid-19 statistics in coming months, that more people in Colorado here and throughout the entire world will continue to get the virus, but that there’s no choice but for him to discontinue the now strict stay-at-home orders, which aren’t feasible for months, as staying at home all the time isn’t sustainable over time.
“The measures are putting too much pressure on our commerce and social and work life,” he said, but that in moving forth it will be with more testing, a special watch on group facilities like long-term health care operations and prisons, and with more specific quarantines on businesses and public places, with more careful tracking of those who do get the virus, to keep it from spreading.
He said the normalcy, which we took for granted before, will ultimately only come with the creation of a vaccine and/or a cure by world scientists, which he said could take possibly a year despite how many are working towards this goal. Otherwise, the virus will basically continue until there’s a communal immunity developed, based on its spread to a large population.
Gov Polis said moving forth, it’s a matter of himself, guided by health officials and statistics, to balance the protection of our lives and our need to get the economy moving so that people can earn a paycheck and sustain themselves.
While he stated that restaurants will be able likely able to at some unspecified point with physical distancing measures, he doesn’t plan on allowing for bars with a crowded nightlife, which he said “can’t function in this setting.”
“Restaurants aren’t going to go back right away, but when they do go back, they’ll have additional social distancing measures,” Polis said, later encouraging all business owners to consider how they might provide for greater distancing if and when they reopen.
He said he will come forth with warnings on how they can function with delivery/takeout and what other services during the recovery period and as to what other types of businesses will be effected by changes several days before April 26th.
Gov Polis said he’s going to continue his ban on large gatherings.
As a disappointed sports fan himself, Gov Polis said he’s exploring ways to keep major events, such as Rockies games in operation in coming months, but he admitted that likely they will be held this summer without live fans, televised and live streamed with empty stands.
He emphasized that we are in this for the long haul and need to be united, saying, “The virus isn’t going to go away quickly so we need to create a way we and live in a way that is socially and economically sustainable throughout the summer until a immunity, a vaccine or a cure is created.”
He said that critical businesses open during this “critical phase” are providing a model for what will need to be in place at other businesses re-opening in coming weeks – such as a continued use of spacing in lines at grocery stores, the use of masks, working from home if possible and more. He said such measures will likely become the norm for a long time for any open business.
The goal of his extreme orders was to prevent a high peak and despite that every death counts, and he believes he helped reduced deaths during this phase possibly by thousands. Moving forth he said that nine of ten people who contract Covid-19 will be fine and won’t require hospital intervention, but one in ten will, and that Colorado will continue to sadly have more deaths, espcially in the older population.
He gave the following main points that need to be addressed to help stop the spread of Covid-19 and especially protect those at most risk:
- Socially and physical distancing and mask wearing needs to stay in place for a period of months ahead while people return to work, recreate outside and enjoy life as much as possible.
- We need to ensure our ability to care for the sick, creating more hospital beds and obtaining more masks, respirators and medical equipment in the event of another spike. There needs to be an increased ability to conduct testing and containment.
- Colorado needs more ways to protect those most at risk to Covid-19, with additional steps for nursing homes and long term care facilities, stepping up monitoring and compliance – also protecting those with underlying medical conditions or are older, living at home. older Coloradans, those with pre-existing conditions and long term facilities.
- Reduce social and economic disruptions with minimal amount of activity to reduce the virus and improve the ability of health care system to handle the demand of Covid-19. Hospitals themselves have increased their capacities to treat Covid-19 patients and the state is building more emergency hospitals and providing funding for more beds at community hospitals like St Mary’s in Pueblo.
On the positive note, Gov Polis said, “We’ll all await recovery when we can attend church and large ball games again.” He said the time will occur someday, based on population level immunity or a treatment introduced “that’s a game changer that works.”
And that… “We’ll get back to the Colorado way of life that we love and cherish.”
By Jenny Paulson / Independent Journalist / Pueblo Independent Magazine