Nov 20, 2020 | NEWS | By Riley Prillwitz | Illustration by Bibi Powers
This past Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis made a public statement advising Coloradans to make every effort to work from home, as medical professionals announced a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state.
The state is up to a seven-day moving average of 4,750 cases as of Thursday evening, and is now up to over 1,000 COVID patients currently in the hospital.
This past Friday, Colorado reported an all-time high of 6,518 new cases of COVID-19. Because of this, health officials fear that hospitals will soon reach maximum capacity, and may even overflow.
Shortly thereafter, the Colorado Hospital Association stated that “hospitals and health systems in the state had activated Tier 1 of the Combined Hospital Transfer Center” in order to smoothly transition patients between health facilities despite rising case numbers, said Denver News 7.
Of the current state of the pandemic, Polis said, “These are our darkest days as a state.”
As the U.S. reached over 11 million cases Sunday, Polis made it clear that he believed the federal government was not doing enough to help its people. “We did a one-time plus up of $375 of unemployment insurance,” stated Polis. “But we know that the capability of the state is nothing like the capability of the federal government.”
On Tuesday, Polis partnered with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to give a briefing on the new steps Colorado will take to control the outbreak in the state.
At the briefing, Polis announced that the current climate of the rising pandemic in the state has demanded further action be taken. He wants to implement changes earlier rather than later to avoid drastic measures for the lives of the people.
“This trend cannot continue,” Polis said.
To halt the rise in case numbers all around Colorado, counties with an exponential growth in cases will move to a “red phase,” which will close indoor dining and limit businesses with a large capacity of personnel. Polis did not state specifically which counties are moving into the red phase but said it should be announced as the week continues. It is likely that El Paso County will enter this phase.
Gov. Polis wanted to make clear that while indoor dining will be closed, restaurants should not close altogether. Local shops and small businesses were urged to remain open while community members were told to support their favorite local businesses during the next coming weeks. “They need our help now more than ever,” Polis said.
Polis turned his attention to education and stated how important he felt it was to get as many students back into the classroom as quickly as possible. He is working closely with the Colorado Department of Education in an attempt to get younger children back into the classroom.
Polis wants to give schools more access to “outdoor classrooms, testing, PPE, and more,” so that families feel safe sending their students to an in-person setting. Childcare services were also urged to remain open and take safety measures to make environments a safe space for young children.
For older high school students who must remain online, Polis wants to help expand broadband access so that students and educators will have the best tools for a successful distanced education.
Recently, Polis announced that many unemployed people around the state qualified to receive a one-time payment of $375 from the Colorado government. This week, he said that he is “calling [Colorado] legislation into special session to provide more aid for Coloradans.”
Polis is joining other governors around the country in writing a letter to the federal government “urging Congress to act on a stimulus package” until the virus is under control. “We in Colorado need to act to stop this exponential growth to save our public and save our economy.”
In the meantime, Polis pleaded with the public to avoid gatherings of more than one household over the holidays, especially for Thanksgiving. He feels it is too late to quarantine and attempt a gathering, and he wants hospitals to be able to provide for anyone who would need to go for any reason but does not think it would be possible if cases continue to rise.
Enacting stricter guidelines, Polis explained, is “meant to accomplish three things: preventing more drastic steps from happening, help kids return to in-person learning, and having the state step up to help small businesses get through the pandemic.”
While it may be a depressing feeling to have to go back to a stricter lifestyle, Polis feels that the end-goal to stop the rise in COVID-19 cases is worth the shift in behavior.