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Governor Polis Press Conference, April 27, 2020

COVID-19 Statistics

  • 13,870 cases
  • 2,479 hospitalized
    • 812 currently hospitalized
    • 64 discharged in the last 24 hours
  • 56 counties
  • 66,341 people tested
  • 695 deaths
Safer at Home Public Health Order:
Guidelines on Safer at Home:
Governor Polis Press Conference
Today Governor Polis gave the first press conference after the state stay at home order was lifted.  The focus was on the release of the Safer at Home order and the guidance related to implementing the order as part of the state can reopen.  Wednesday, he will give an update on testing in the state.  He started with data on the daily case growth rate and the number of new daily cases.  This peaked for a few weeks in March at around 300 new daily cases, but has decreased significantly since then.  The stay at home order is what has contributed to this flattening of the curve.  Extending the stay at home order would not reduce the severity, it would just shift the date of the peak.   The Safer at Home order will set the stage for the next phase of the pandemic.   People will be able to start going back to work to ensure that Coloradans can still earn a living.  Governor Polis said that people should definitely go to the hospital if they need to, if they have chest pain for example.  Protecting vulnerable populations will be important during Safer at Home. 
Further opening up of the economy, opening restaurants for example, will require everyone to continue to be vigilant and engage in social distancing and wear masks in public.   If Coloradans let up and stores are not being careful about following the guidelines that were released today, the state could go back to Stay at Home.    
The phase-in of Safer at Home is:
  • April 27 retail can begin curbside pick up.  Real estate showing can resume.
  • May 1 retail and personal services can open if they implement social distancing and PPE/cleaning best practices
  • May 4 offices can come back to work with up to 50% of staff being on the property at the same time
Under Safer at Home:
  • Vulnerable populations must stay at home, except as necessary
  • No gatherings of 10 or more people
  • Restaurants and bars remain closed except for deliver/takeout
  • People must wear masks in public
  • Clubs/gyms/large venues remain closed.
  • Non-emergency medical and dental procedures can begin
  • Personal services (salons/grooming/personal training) can open with precautions
  • K-12 schools remain closed to normal instruction
    • Schools can use their buildings for: technical education in small groups, one on one instruction, for students to access technology that may not be available at home. 
  • Limited post-secondary instruction, mostly technical and vocational programs can resume.  Welding, metal work and other programs not conducive to online instruction can start in groups smaller than 10.
Guidelines for Businesses
For businesses to open, they have to have a plan to keep people 6 feet apart, they have to sterilize surfaces frequently, follow guidelines to increase air ventilation, post hand washing signs, and ensure that people wear cloth masks.  Curbside delivery is a continued best practice.  Retailers should temperature checks on employees, post signage on good hygiene, encourage hand washing breaks, require employees to stay home if they are sick, require gloves and face masks during work activities, provide hand sanitizer at the doorways, and provide special hours for vulnerable populations.  No vulnerable individual can be compelled to come back to work if it requires being near others.  Employers should make accommodations for individuals experiencing a lack of child care due to school closures.  This could include telecommuting.   Governor Polis asked for help in enforcing the provision of Safer at Home.  He asked for people to report any concerns to the Attorney General’s Office, local law enforcement, or the local public health agency. 
Long Term Care Facilities
Restricted visitation and symptom checks will continue at long term care facilities. Senior care facilities will have to submit a plan for COVID-19 prevention and response.  All facility residents and staff must wear masks in public.  The state has prioritized delivery of PPE to senior care facilities and testing of asymptomatic people at senior care facilities.   
Local Enforcement and Flexibility
Local governments have 3 options: Match state guidelines, implement more strict policies, or apply for flexibility from the Safer at Home restrictions.  There are some areas of the state, along the Front Range that see a lot more cases than some areas.  Eagle County has been approved for flexibility, and it is anticipated that Mesa County will be approved soon.  
To be approved for flexibility from state requirements, local governments have to show low new cases per day, or cases declining for 14 days, and they have to show that they have an early warning system to detect and address any increase in community spread.   Also, local public health agencies will have to approve the plan, local hospitals will have to show that they could handle any needed capacity, and the County Commissioners will have to vote to support the plan.   Counties that disregard the order are breaking the law, jeopardize emergency preparedness grants, and put lives at risk, and could disrupt businesses.    
In response to a question about budget cuts and if the full day kindergarten dollars should be on the table for cuts, Governor Polis referenced the upcoming revenue forecast and he said that we are not yet sure how the COVID-19 crisis will affect the pupil count.  He said that they will work to ensure that schools are ready to open in August, and that this may mean different passing classes, and different meal times, and other social distancing policies. 

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