COVID-19 Response Update

November 2020
SOUNDING THE ALARM AND PROVIDING REAL RELIEF
Today, Governor Polis was joined by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Senate President Leroy Garcia, and Speaker-designate Alec Garnett, to provide an update on the state and local response to the spike in COVID-19 positivity rates, cases, and hospitalizations.Over the last few weeks, we’ve been sounding the alarm on the trends observed here in Colorado.Rising case numbers, record hospitalizations and increasing positivity rates all indicate that there is more coronavirus in our communities now than there was in the spring. Last week, over the span of three days, we went from reporting:

  • 3,500 cases in one day; to
  • 5,100 cases in one day; to
  • 6,400 cases in just one day.

This isn’t just a problem in someone else’s community. It’s right here in our own backyard:

  • Adams County: 1 out of every 58 people are infected.
  • Denver County: 1 out of every 64 are infected.
  • Arapahoe County: 1 out of every 83 people are infected.

Additionally:

  • Hospitalizations are increasing: We now have over 1,300 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 — more than we’ve ever had in the state.
  • Hospitals are suffering a strain: 86% of ICU beds are full.
  • Hospitals are preparing for surge capacity: We know that Parkview Hospital in Pueblo reached more than 100% of capacity yesterday, with more than 100 COVID patients admitted. Multiple patients had to be transferred to other facilities.
  • Staffing shortages: Today, more than 27 hospitals are reporting staffing shortages because of staff members sick with COVID.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions, and in Colorado, we help our own.

In the spring, many Coloradans were buoyed by the support of one-time payments or unemployment benefits from the federal government. This federal safety net is not there today.

That’s why a few weeks ago, Governor Polis took action in consultation with legislative leadership to provide a direct one-time $375 cash payment to over 435,000 Coloradans who have faced unemployment during the pandemic.

Governor Polis announced that he will be calling the legislature into a special session in the near future to provide immediate relief to the economic and financial hardships that many Coloradans are facing and could continue to face in the winter months.

The special session will include the following items:

  • A small business relief package for those businesses that have been most impacted by capacity limits, including bars and restaurants, with direct aid and tax relief, in order to assist them in surviving the winter months;
  • Housing and rental assistance for those struggling to make ends meet;
  • Support for child care providers to help them open and stay open to ensure parents can get back to work;
  • Expanding broadband access to students and educators to ensure students can learn online during periods of remote learning; and
  • Support for Colorado food pantries and banks.

Taking further action, another letter will also be sent to the federal government with local governments urging Washington D.C. to pass another critical stimulus package to provide robust state and local relief to Coloradans.

The Governor thanked Senate President Leroy Garcia, and Speaker-designate Alec Garnett, as well as other members of the leadership, and the Joint Budget Committee for their partnership, and commitment to delivering relief now.

RELIEF FOR SCHOOLS
The State is working closely with our local school districts to ensure that our children continue getting the in-person education they need, in a way that works best for each community and keeps people safe:

  • Child care facilities, and Pre-K through 5th Grade Students: Encouraged to continue learning in-person.
  • Middle School Students: Can do a hybrid version of in-person and remote learning or go completely remote.
  • High School Students: Should be a hybrid or completely remote, and higher education should be remote, with limited in-person learning when necessary.

These are not easy steps to take. But, given the rapidly escalating trends in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, if we want to avoid even more drastic action, we must act now. So while the additional restrictions are painful, we hope they can accomplish two things:

  1. Prevent us from having to take even more drastic steps, such as an all-out shutdown; and
  2. Help our kids continue learning in person, or return to in person classrooms in the weeks and months ahead.
CHANGES TO THE DIAL FRAMEWORK
The Governor knows that many Coloradans have been doing their part. People have been wearing your masks, staying home as much as possible, and interacting with those only in their household. However, we need a much more drastic shift in behavior to slow the transmission of this virus.That’s why CDPHE is making updates to the Red level of the COVID-19 dial that will ask Coloradans to avoid all interactions with people outside of their households to help lower transmission rates. Theupdated dial will be effective Friday, November 20, 2020.Counties in the Red level are considered at severe risk and will be subject to updated restrictions, including:

  • Indoor dining is temporarily closed. Restaurants and coffee shops can still offer take out and delivery, and they can offer outdoor dining with a last call at 8 p.m., but only to customers in groups with members of their own household. Bars remain closed.
  • Gyms can operate at 10% capacity or allow up to 10 people per room with reservations. They can also operate outdoors in groups of up to 10 people.
  • In-person personal gatherings are not permitted.
  • All gatherings between households of any size in any location, public or private should not be taking place while your county is in the severe risk phase.
  • All at-risk populations are recommended to stay at home.

CDPHE has notified a number of counties that they will move to Level Red on Friday, November 20.

Read theupdated capacity chart for all six levels. The updated dial is pictured below.

REMEMBER “THE BIG 3” IN NOVEMBER
Over the last week or so, we’ve heard some very encouraging news about potential vaccines. While this is good news, we are not in the clear yet. As the chances of contracting the virus are higher today than at any point in this pandemic, we must all exercise extreme caution.Governor Polis has said it many times; there are three things we all need to be doing — no matter what level your county is in:

  1. Avoid all social interactions with those outside of your household
  2. Wear a mask
  3. Physically distance yourself

With the holidays fast approaching, we all want to be with our families, but it’s not the safe choice. So let’s do these three things, Colorado.

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Author: Ken Rucker

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