Apr 24, 2020
Colorado Governor Jared Polis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 24
Colorado governor Jared Polis’ coronavirus press briefing from April 24. The state’s stay-at-home order will end in phases, beginning April 27. Read the full transcript here.
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Jared Polis: (00:00)
-stay safer at home as it is during this difficult time period. So thank you all for joining us, I’m going to be trying to find my notes here, which hopefully I have, and can print out. Let’s see here, they’ve arrived. Maria, can you send those to me? That would be great. Then we can get started. I got the Q&A, but not the opening remarks. But I just want to thank all of you for joining us. This is a difficult time for Colorado, for America. We are really seeking to find that, as everybody is across the country, that sustainable route where we can get through this with a level of social distancing that we need to to stay under our healthcare capacity, to be able to help make sure that we reduce the spread and protect our most vulnerable Coloradans, first and foremost, and that we continue to have the strongest opportunity for people to earn a living as we can within the context of the public health challenge.
Jared Polis: (01:08)
Thank you for logging in, I’m going to keep my remarks very brief, this is mostly an opportunity for you to ask questions. Just so you know, there’s 12,251 cases, tragically, 669 deaths, we always begin by expressing condolences to those who we’ve lost. But I also want to know that those numbers are not a spike, they’re numbers that are being retroactively adjusted for cases, in the case of deaths, folks who had coronavirus as their source of death on their death certificate but weren’t previously included in our data are now being caught up.
Jared Polis: (01:44)
These are from the last four or five weeks, they’re all being added back in, and then there’s also a large number of cases because we’ve had private labs that are now reporting cases from a week or two ago that are all showing up in the last day or two. I know people like to chart and look at the data, we do, of course, too, that’s what we do every day, but these are not real spikes for today, they are deaths during the whole period that we just found in are reporting, and they are cases from two weeks ago, one to two weeks ago, that are finally being reported by a private lab. So were grateful to have more of that information, but that is not new information for the day. So that’s very important.
Jared Polis: (02:27)
I want to reiterate what I’ve been saying since we talked about Safer At Home: this is no way, shape or form back to normal, people need to wear masks now more than ever. In fact, during this phase, wearing masks in public is more important than ever. There’s an order for people that work in retail and encounter the public to wear masks, and we want everybody to wear masks whenever they’re out. It’s going to be important to achieve that.
Jared Polis: (02:54)
This transition is gradual, I think the first thing that Coloradans can expect to see this Monday is curbside pickup for retail businesses. The retail businesses are able to take orders, bring them out to the curbside, no matter what they do. They are also getting ready to open; if they choose to, they can open for the public on May first. During this period of curbside delivery, they will also be looking at the guides that we’ll be issuing Monday, and by the way, Monday will be about guidance, we’re going to do a much more thorough discussion of what is expected of businesses and workers to keep people safe and customers. But they will have a few days where they’re doing curbside delivery to get ready to open if they choose, and we’re also preparing guidance for the general public and impacted industries, we’ll have a very specific timeline and requirements. But when in doubt, just stay home. That’s the safest thing, we’re safer at home. Especially for our most vulnerable population, seniors and those with pre-existing conditions, May looks just like April. They need to stay at home except when absolutely necessary. Our success as a state, in keeping our loved ones and ourselves and our families alive and safe, is really about personal responsibility and the choices that Coloradans make around doing what’s safe. We can put all the precautions in place in the world and we’re going to work hard to enforce them where we can, but that individual responsibility element is so key. As we get to the stage where there’s real business-level enforcement, I’m also signing an executive order that creates an advisory board on how we can succeed at the new Safer at Home phase for the long haul. Remember, this is not just a thing for the next week or two, it’s for May, and it’ll likely have some changes, but it’ll likely have very close similarity to what June looks like. We certainly hope that we’re making progress and there’s additional activities that people can safely engage in.
Jared Polis: (04:56)
This board will advise me and CDPHE on the policies that we need to maximize social distancing at the local level and how to enforce them. So we want to have that discussion and include the voice of local government, law enforcement, [inaudible 00:05:09] representatives from counties, from municipalities, from local law enforcement, local public health economic recovery council, which is a private sector in business community. And then internally, it will have Department of Public Safety director Stan Hilkey, Public Health Director Joel Ryan, DORA Director Patty Salazar, and my Chief of Staff Lisa Kaufmann. So that’s going to be very important as we talk about how this really looks on the ground, Safer at Home, what it looks like for the future to make sure that it works for individuals, for public health, for businesses and for our own fulfillment as Coloradans to be able to do social distancing in a sustainable way.
Jared Polis: (05:48)
I want to thank the Colorado National Guard for their amazing work helping with testing. They’ve tested three senior living facilities in Colorado Springs, Broomfield and Thornton, 900 tests, 20 were positive, and by identifying those 20 positive cases and removing them from the workforce, that act alone likely saved dozens of lives of seniors who are most vulnerable. We’re going to continue to work with those senior living facilities, additional senior living facilities, including a partnership with CSU, to do more to screen asymptomatic workers to help keep our seniors safe and prevent addition site-based outbreaks.
Jared Polis: (06:25)
I’m proud that 33,000 face-coverings were delivered by the Colorado Mass Project to folks who serve the homeless and most vulnerable, thank you, Colorado Mass Project. I also want to encourage Coloradans to of course stay away from the mountains this weekend, recreate within 10 miles of your home. I know the weather’s nice, but the coronavirus doesn’t care about the weather, they care about physical proximity, and we need to make sure that we stay safe. If you are going to recreate outdoors, do so in areas that are not, within 10 miles of your home, at least 8-10 feet away from others, at least six, wear your masks if you’re in an area with others. Colorado is beautiful, that’s why we live here, but our mountains and our rivers and our forests will be here long after coronavirus outbreak, long after any of us. So give it a break, and we look forward to being able to have more of those recreation opportunities in the future. Want to thank DORA, Department of Regulatory Affairs, they’ve issues 264 emergency healthcare licenses to put more workers on the front lines, these are under our executive orders, freeing up people. They might be from other states, they might have had applications here, but thanks to DORA’s work, 264 more emergency health workers are able to join the front line.
Jared Polis: (07:38)
And if you’re sick with something other than COVID, just a reminder, if you need to go to the ER, go to the ER. If you’re having chest pains, dizziness, if the symptoms that you have would’ve led you to go to the ER in January, before any of this COVID started here, we still have appendicitis, we still have cancer, we still have heart disease, don’t let the threat of coronavirus deter you from getting the medical treatment that you need. It could save your life.
Jared Polis: (08:03)
One point of clarification: the public health orders requiring facilities serving seniors to take extra precautions to protect their residents, which means the orders, some of the very first ones we did, limiting visitation, symptom screenings, isolation plans, apply also to assisted living residences. There’s been some misunderstandings in the terminology. Nursing homes, senior living facilities, [inaudible 00:08:25] care facilities for the elderly. So with that, we would love to open it up. Monday, we will have detailed guidance around the many areas that we want to do it as safe a way as possible, and Monday, curbside delivery for retailers.
Jared Polis: (08:40)
And some of the elective surgeries are also coming back, there’s letters and guidelines on that, any hospital who does that has to have enough PPE and be able to meet those needs and make sure they’re prioritizing it for COVID. But if they meet that, of course we know that many of those so-called electives surgeries aren’t truly elective. I mean, I know that many people are in pain, conditions are getting more difficult, and while you might have been able to put it off a month, we know you can’t put off what is necessary and important to you for very long. So those are being scheduled at ambulatory care centers and hospitals across our state.
Jared Polis: (09:14)
Let’s go ahead and open it for questions.
Vinny Del Giudice: (09:17)
Hello, Governor, this is Vinny Del Giudice at Bloomberg News in Denver. This is a question about the federal Airbridge program, it transports PPE masks, what have you, to the front lines. But medical supply firms, as we understand it, almost always maintain ownership of the supplies. They take bids after the supplies arrive. Has Colorado used Airbridge, what are your thoughts about the program, and also, today, did you speak with Vice-President Pence on the conference call to the states? Thank you, sir.
Jared Polis: (09:49)
I did, and Airbridge was certainly one of the things we discussed. We discussed it last week as well. I was on a conference call with the vice-president this morning to confirm that. I’ve spoken to him individually and on conference calls several times each week. We are very supportive of Airbridge and other federal programs that can provide PPE to our first-line responders. I’m not sure I understood your question about ownership. We’re not focused on who owns them, we just want them deployed and used in the field. But it doesn’t meet our full needs, that is augmented by state work around acquiring PPE, and we’ve had a number of successful acquisitions from China, from other countries, domestically.
Jared Polis: (10:29)
Private sector acquisition, meaning our hospitals, especially the larger chains, are acquiring PPE through their supply channels, and yes, the federal government is helping as well, to help meet the needs, both in the critical care facilities, the hospitals, as well as some of the facilities that need help preventing outbreaks, like senior and assisted living homes. Next? Next question?
Jared Polis: (11:02)
Give me one second, Governor.
Maryanne Goodman: (11:10)
Hi, this is Maryanne Goodman with Colorado Politics.
Jared Polis: (11:13)
Maryanne Goodman: (11:14)
Hi. What is your intention with senior facilities, nursing homes and the like? Is it your plan to have all of them tested or just the ones with outbreaks? Just how far down the list do you intend to go?
Jared Polis: (11:28)
Yeah. It’s one of the priority uses of testing to be able to test asymptomatic workers at senior care facilities. We already are doing the symptom screening of those workers, but we also know that about half of people who are contagious with COVID-19 are not showing symptoms themselves. And the model for what we’ve done, testing several hundred, finding a number of positives. That’s what we are expanding across the state to be able to test more and more of the workforce that are asymptomatic. So of course, symptomatic people are tested too. That’s a given, Maryanne. But the focus here in the additional capacity is around testing people that have no symptoms, but are going into work at senior care facilities. And once isn’t enough. So it has to rotate back to have another test a week later. Really, it’s an ongoing part of our work that is stepping up during May to help keep our most vulnerable populations safer.
Maryanne Goodman: (12:32)
Governor, Charles [inaudible 00:12:40] from the Grand Junction Sentinel. How are you, sir?
Jared Polis: (12:42)
Good, Charles. Thank you.
Hey, so I know you talked about enforcement. And I know you were still working out the details to what that would look like. But, I’m trying to get a sense of how you think that would look. I mean I imagine you don’t want law enforcement, or state patrol, or National Guard storming a business or a County that is not complying. How do you imagine that would be done?
Jared Polis: (13:07)
Business level enforcement is a lot easier than individual level enforcement. And part of the rationale behind moving from stay at home, which is theoretically enforcement of individuals that are out that shouldn’t be out. But, in practice is no real enforcement. If you say, for at home, is that there are real enforcement mechanisms around businesses. That means the ability through County Health Departments to close businesses that are violating health orders and operating in unsafe ways. It means the ability of local law enforcement to be able to have that visibility. And that’s why the buy-in from local jurisdictions is so important, because most of the law enforcement resources and civil enforcement resources are localized. And so we look forward to continuing to work with the mayors, the police chiefs, the County Health Departments and many others to ensure that there is compliance with the steps that are needed at businesses to make sure that their employees are reasonably safe, and that customers that enter those businesses are reasonably safe.
Sam, you are on the line.
Sam Tabachnick: (14:20)
Oh, yes. Hi. This is Sam Tabachnick, Denver Post. I wanted to ask a kind of a followup to that question. We were writing about Weld County this morning. And Weld County, the commissioners have said basically they are allowing businesses to just open. They say they can open whenever they want. They don’t have to. What can the state do in terms of countywide directives? Because some counties are extending their stay at homes. Some are saying basically, “We want freedom and we don’t want to abide.” So what can you do with counties, such as Weld?
Jared Polis: (15:00)
So there’s a process for relieving certain restrictions and getting variances. Eagle County’s was the first to be granted in the state. Mesa County is expected to be granted soon. Today, or tomorrow or the next day. Very soon. Jill Ryan indicated in her remarks publicly in Eagle that she expected that Mesa County would be granted very soon. As far as I know, we’ve not received a request from Weld County. They do not have any kind of unilateral ability to jeopardize the health of residents of Weld County. And as governor, I’ll take whatever steps necessary to protect the health of the residents of Weld County. One of the hotspots, with one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 in the state. They issued guidance on their website. Their guidance was fine. It’s not as thorough as our guidance, but if they in any way think that businesses that aren’t meeting the statewide guidance are somehow able to operate in a free for all.
Jared Polis: (15:55)
If they’re planning on saying restaurants can open, and clubs can open, and businesses don’t have to have social distancing, that would be a great danger to the people of Weld County. And they have not even requested any type of variance around what they want to do that’s different than the state. We welcome those, by the way. And they’re a multi-stakeholder. This came from the commissioners. But for Mesa County and Eagle County commissioners, County Health Departments, the local hospitals, when they’re on the same page and they’re able to end the stay at home earlier, as Eagle and Mesa are seeking to do. We applaud them. Weld County has not applied for that. They’ve instead, while again, the health guidance on their website is reasonable. But, not as thorough as the state guidance. If they’re intending to use that in a way to supersede the more thorough state guidance, then it’s very clear that they are not allowed to because it jeopardizes the people of Weld County.
Jared Polis: (16:49)
We’re all accustomed to restaurants. They get As, they get Bs, they’re inspected, right? A County is not able to say, “We’re not inspecting our restaurants. And therefore, they’re a potentially a danger for hepatitis or other diseases.” We have basic public health standards at the state level. A process for flexibility for local jurisdictions, that Mesa and Eagle are participating in. Weld has not participated in that. And while their guidance is reasonable, although not thorough enough, it’s not clear at this point what they’re going to do with it. And they are very clearly not allowed to forego the kind of social distancing that needs to occur in businesses for them to be able to successfully operate and protect the public health.
Hi governor, this is Anusha with Nine News. We have had a couple of people reaching out to us worried about going back to work, out of safety and health concerns. Talking to the Attorney General’s Office earlier today, they said people’s options will depend a lot on the executive order. So we were curious if the state is offering any kind of guidance or advice for people who don’t necessarily want to go back to work yet? And if that will be addressed in the executive order?
Jared Polis: (18:04)
Yes. Specifically, those who are members of our most vulnerable population, people that are 65 and up, and work. Or people who have preexisting conditions like moderate, severe asthma or hypertension. You should remain at home this month whenever possible and only leave for essential activities. When workplaces return to 50%, and to be clear, that’s May 4th. Not April 27th. April 27th, curbside delivery. But what happens May 4th is workplaces can return to up to 50% of the density. The 50% who are telecommuting are not going in. That should be prioritized for those who have preexisting condition and older Coloradans that are still in the workforce. So that’s very important in the implementation of that. That’ll be part of the guidance on Monday. It’s also important that Coloradans put this in perspective. If you’re able not to work, if you’re able to have unemployment insurance, or get buy off your savings, or the $1,200 you got, that’s a wonderful thing.
Jared Polis: (19:04)
But, just recognize that all Coloradans can’t. Some have to work to live. And there needs to be a way to do that. But if you’re able not to work, of course, the danger of the virus will continue. And the danger of the virus will likely continue through Summer, even Fall. So as you’re thinking about what risks you want to take on yourself, you have to balance that with can I afford not to make a living for six months? And some people can. Maybe you’re 68, and you get some social security and have a small pension. But, you work because you want to have additional money. But maybe you could forego it for six months. If you can, that’s a very, very, very good decision. A very good decision to keep yourself safe. But there are others that have to put food on the table for the family, and make their rent, and need to work. And we wanted more opportunities to do that in a safe a way as possible.
Jared Polis: (19:53)
Steffan Tubbs, you’re on the line.
Jared Polis: (20:02)
Steffan? Steffan? Maybe we’ll come back to Steffan. He might be having technical difficulties. We’ll have to go back to him.
Allison Levine, you’re on the line.
Jared Polis: (20:19)
Allison, go ahead.
Allison Levine: (20:22)
Hi. I’m wondering if you can clarify what your language is about reasonable guidelines on the Weld County aspect? And also, can you go into a little bit further what you can do if you feel that their restrictions and limitations as they attempt to reopen are not in line with the state?
Jared Polis: (20:47)
I thought their guidelines were reasonable, but not as thorough as our state guidelines. They put little posters that the people can print out and post it in stores. And they were fine. They said, “You need to wash your hands. You need to stay six feet from others.” And stores should do that. And those posters are [inaudible 00:10:01], whoever did them in the Weld County Graphics Department did a fine job. It depends what they say they’re trying to do with these guidelines.
Jared Polis: (21:08)
If they’re trying to say, without requesting any state variants, like Mesa County did and like Eagle County did, “We instead are going to open up every business as long as they do these basic things.” That would be extremely dangerous. My pledge to keep the people of Colorado as safe as possible. The role of the state government in protecting the public health would prevent Weld County from doing that. And so they cannot, if that’s the intent to use it that way, they cannot use it that way. If they have a thoughtful approach to request a variance, if they want to open some kind of business sooner.
Jared Polis: (21:39)
Like Mesa and Eagle County are, that’s completely appropriate. They need to put that on paper, in a thorough way, what those safety requirements are. How they’re doing it. Make sure that their hospital and their Health Department are on the same page. And we will act on that within a few days. We acted on Eagle within a few days. We’re acting on Mesa within a few days. We would of course, encourage a thoughtful approach from Weld or any other County. But, Weld has had a very high-
Jared Polis: (22:03)
… approached from Weld or any other county, but Weld has had a very high number of cases. They are one of the highest per capita in number of cases in the state. It’s a hotspot. This is not the time to further ease off of restrictions in Weld County even beyond the way that the state is trying to allow for more safe practices.
Jared Polis: (22:20)
We want to work with the commissioners. We don’t want to participate in political games. We simply want to have a thoughtful dialogue with them. If there’s something they want to do, they can formally request it. Their guidelines are basic, not thorough, but they are fine and sound and their modeling is fine. But if they’re trying to use that to supersede the guidance that needs is needed to keep people safe, then that would not be a legal way for them to achieve that goal.
Vicente Arenas: (22:51)
Governor, Vicente Arenas so Fox 31, you mentioned that you do not want people to go to the mountains and you’re asking them to stay within 10 miles from their home. We’ve seen in previous weekends that the sides of the roads up in the high country have been packed with cars. What sort of enforcement measure, or would you take an enforcement measure to make people pay for going out into areas where they are not supposed to?
Jared Polis: (23:18)
It’s really important that people recreate in areas near their home for two reasons. One is so that people aren’t congregating in areas that might be beautiful but become dangerous because too many people choose those areas. The second reason is we don’t want more regional spread of the virus, right? Areas that are just turning the corner and getting control of infections do not need a whole new round of infections from people from Colorado Springs or Denver who are going to those areas. There’s two important reasons.
Jared Polis: (23:52)
If you live near municipal parks, if you live within 10 miles of a state park, those are open. But they are for people who live near them, not for people from other communities. We absolutely want to work with local law enforcement around stepping up enforcement. And it’s really important, and especially with a beautiful weekend coming up, that people are recreating near their home so as not to catch the virus from folks in other places or to spread the virus to people in other places.
Steffan Tubbs: (24:24)
Hi Governor. Steffan Tubbs, can you hear me?
Jared Polis: (24:26)
Yes, you’re back, Steffan.
Steffan Tubbs: (24:28)
Okay. Thanks, Governor. I’m just wondering, over the last few weeks that we’ve all been listening to your updates, you’ve really been talking a lot to Coloradans, and I want to go to how I know you may be understanding how frustrating it is for Coloradans right now where they hear Denver Mayor Michael Hancock this morning. They see what Jefferson County is doing. Tri-County may be doing one thing, weld County may be doing another, and then your message from the state. What do you say to people that they’re going, “I really don’t know what I’m under right now,” and is there a danger of maybe people then going off and maybe going to do their own thing, if you know what I mean?
Jared Polis: (25:08)
I try to speak to a statewide audience. No matter where you live in Colorado, you should stay at home unless you need to go out or something you need to buy or for the necessary physical exercise. That’s the way that we’re going to beat this is those individual decisions people make not to socialize, to stay at home when they can because people are safer at home. I recognize that there are different situations on the ground across the state. Different situations in Mesa and Eagle County, which is why we’re working with them to give them that flexibility. A different situation in Denver and Jeffco.
Jared Polis: (25:40)
No matter where you live in our state, you should wear a mask whenever you leave the house and/or in public places. That means when you’re at the local park, it means when you’re at the grocery store. It’s really important that if we’re going to be effective in this safer-at-home phase, that mask wearing rates increase over what they have been for the general public. It’s extremely important, and it also recognizes statewide the reality that people need to earn a living.
Jared Polis: (26:08)
A certain percentage of the workforce has been working through this, the critical workforce. It’d be a few more folks now that are able to go to work and earn a living. I know folks need that. Folks appreciate that. It’s not yet everybody, but it’s certainly a lot more folks and we need to do it in a safe a way as possible.
Jared Polis: (26:24)
Now, what Denver has done in a very thoughtful way is they said, “Look, we need a little more time to operationalize, to figure out how we’re going to enforce these health requirements.” Yeah, we’re putting out on very short notice, right? We’ll be talking about it Monday, but they’re really going live right after that. And it’s completely understandable that somebody saying, “Look, May 1st, we’re not ready to have the inspections of the retail to make sure they’re safer and all of these things. We need another week.” It’s very thoughtful to say as a jurisdiction, “Look, we have a lot of COVID-19 here. We want to operationalize these protections. We want to make sure they’re being enforced. We’re going to go to May 8th.” That’s what Denver is doing.
Jared Polis: (27:02)
There’s big differences across our state. I try to stick to the statewide message. Wear a mask whenever you go out. You’re safer at home. The more you can stay at home and avoid socializing, the better. And let’s continue to work to protect our seniors and most vulnerable. That means we are, Steffan. That also means I hope that you are, not you personally, although I do hope you are personally, but your listeners, your viewers. It means you have an elderly neighbor who is 76, offer to bring groceries to their home and leave them on their doorstep. Just those small steps so that they don’t have to go out can make an enormous difference in saving lives.
David Klugh: (27:36)
Governor, it’s David Klugh at Denver7. Good afternoon and thanks for this opportunity once again. There is a lot of talk nationally about a second wave of the coronavirus coming this fall, about the same time, as inconvenient as that is, as the flu season. Is there any energy that the government here in Colorado is spending on looking that far ahead at what we may need to be doing through the summer and into the fall related to that potential second wave?
Jared Polis: (28:07)
A lot of our models show that there will continue to be a great risk of contracting COVID-19 all through summer. While there’s some data that shows that high temperatures kill it on surfaces, that doesn’t help the overall social, contagious nature of the disease. It will likely continue.
Jared Polis: (28:28)
We of course worry about the overlay between the regular flu season and COVID-19. We’re going to encourage people to get their flu shots, of course at the appropriate time when they’re available usually in August, to help reduce the severity of the flu season in Colorado. But COVID-19 is likely to be with us not just this summer, it’s likely to be with humanity in a way that the flu is forever.
Jared Polis: (28:52)
And we hope that there’s a vaccine soon. But it could very well be like the flu vaccine and it controls it to a certain extent but not 100%. It’s very unlikely COVID-19 will be extinct. It’s likely it will coexist with humanity as the flu does. And we hope that there are vaccinations that are effective to reduce the spread and reduce outbreaks this fall or winter, or cures that work clinically.
Jared Polis: (29:16)
But in the meantime, we need to manage this throughout summer and the fall and the winter. And we don’t yet have visibility into whether there’s a second peak in fall or not, but we’re trying to get our way through summer with case levels that don’t exceed our hospital capacity.
Jared Polis: (29:40)
Brandon Thompson. Brandon Thompson went away. What else do we have?
Speaker 1: (29:47)
Brandon will come back to you.
Jared Polis: (29:48)
Speaker 1: (30:00)
Sadie, you are still on the line.
Jared Polis: (30:02)
Sadie, go ahead.
Thank you. You said that local buy-in will be very important for enforcing this new phase, but it’s apparent that Weld County has not fully bought into the state’s order. Can you elaborate on what the state is able to do to enforce violations at a county level and what you might do on Monday if Weld County does follow through and open businesses that were not permitted to start opening?
Jared Polis: (30:32)
Well, if any county is not treating this like the emergency that it is, then they risk losing emergency funds, and I know that’s very tangible for residents of any county. The local buy-in is critical and that’s why we are excited to work with Mesa County, with Eagle County, with any others that have better ways that they can open up more or quicker. We’re happy to work with them and get those approved.
Jared Polis: (30:53)
Weld County has not requested that. They’ve simply said… Now again, their guidance is basic. It needs to be more thorough but largely consistent with our guidance. But if they’re trying to use that guidance in a way, which is what one commissioner said. They’ve never told us this is our intent, but it commissioner did say if anybody meets our Weld County guidance, they can be open no matter what they do or what their business is.
Jared Polis: (31:15)
If that’s what they are doing, then that is unsafe for the residents of Weld County, which has one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 in the state, and we will absolutely use every mechanism we have including they will forego their own eligibility for emergency funds. Those businesses could lose their license to operate under the state if they’re state-licensed businesses.
Jared Polis: (31:35)
And it’s very important that if Weld County wants to do something differently, we encourage that. You should apply for that and we’ll work with you to do that. But if you unilaterally are saying, as at least one commissioner said, “That we’re simply not going to follow any of the health and safety guidance of the state and any business can open that meets these basic criteria,” then that is endangering the lives of the residents of Weld County; and as governor, I’m going to act to prevent that and protect people in Weld County.
Brandon Thompson: (31:58)
Governor, it’s Brandon [Inaudible 00:10: 01].
Jared Polis: (32:05)
Brandon? We lost Brandon again. He might be having technical difficulties. Who’s next?
Jesse Paul: (32:10)
Hey, Governor, it’s Jesse Paul at the Colorado Sun. This morning, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said that businesses can be fixed and put back in shape, and the economy can be repaired, but “What we cannot do is replace lives that have been lost.” It seems that with the safer-at-home order, you’re suggesting that we can kind of manage those two?
Jesse Paul: (32:35)
And then the other question I wanted to ask was, who do you see as going to these retail businesses that are going to be reopened since you’re telling folks that they should stay home anyways? I mean, do you really think this will have any kind of economic impact, this kind of slight shift that we’re making?
Jared Polis: (32:51)
Well, people are safer at home and they’ve been shopping, of course, when they need to. They’ve been going to grocery stores and pharmacies. There are other goods that they might feel that they need to buy, and I expected there will be. I don’t expect that any-
Jared Polis: (33:03)
They might feel that they need to buy and I expected there will be. I don’t expect that any businesses will necessarily be at the level of business that they were before this crisis. But for many small businesses being able to operate even in a limited way. Very welcoming the difference between existence and non-existence of going out of business or being able to continue to employ people for months and years ahead. So consumer behavior should remain cautious. It will remain cautious. It’s not a time for anxiety or fear. It’s a time for caution. And I know that folks are doing that.
Jared Polis: (33:30)
When you look at every model that has been created, Jessie, no model shows the disease being stamped out in Colorado or America. There are very few places in the world that are able to do that. Taiwan, New Zealand, perhaps will pull that off. They’re islands. They acted early. They could very well eliminate the virus in their borders. It’s not possible in a country where there’s, I think over about a million people that have contracted it already, with people who move back and forth between the States every day. So it’s going to be with us and we need to do what we can to save lives and make sure that everybody who gets it has a fighting chance to survive. Meaning they have the hospital that and the treatment that they need. Generally successful, I mean there will still be fatalities, but without the ability to go on oxygen or the final intervention which would be a ventilator, the fatality rate would be much, much, much higher. So we don’t want to allow it ever to exceed our capacity. That’s why we built additional capacity here in Colorado and why we want to continue to limit the spread of it to save lives for the long haul.
Jared Polis: (34:37)
The models show there’s not a lot of difference about when a stay at home order ends, whether it ends this week or next week or in two weeks. It was needed at the time to stop the exponential curve, which it succeeded in doing. But what’s more important than the exact date it ends, by far, is the behavior that is sustainable for Coloradans in May, in June and July. The way we act, the way we go about our lives, the way we earn our livelihood, the way we support ourselves, the way we have psychological fulfillment, in a way that achieves the social distancing necessary to prevent a far worse outbreak that would overwhelm our hospital system and cost lives.
Speaker 2: (35:16)
This will be the final question that we have time for. Larry Miller, you’re on the line.
Larry Miller: (35:26)
Hey governor, it’s Larry Miller from Denver 7. Earlier-
Jared Polis: (35:33)
… today and I just haven’t been informed but that’s extremely possible. But those two have and one has been grounded, the other will be grounded soon if it hasn’t already. I simply don’t have the answer for you, but we can get it for you from Jill Ryan, whether as a factual matter any have applied yet. I support mask wearing. It’s important across our state. I walk my dog once a day with my kids and we wear masks. Marlon and I and the kids, very important. Whenever we go to the grocery store wear a mask. I’m very supportive of Wheat Ridge, which is already instituted a public mask wearing requirement, of any jurisdiction that’s doing that. Absolutely critical to be able to increase the amount on the general public that wears masks. When I first announced kind of the mask concept a few weeks ago and Coloradans like Americans are slow to warm to it, they’re getting better.
Jared Polis: (36:21)
I said, we’re going to a mask wearing culture. This disease has a better trajectory of saving lives in areas that have mask wearing. Whether that’s Japan, whether that’s China, mask wearing is a norm there and as a result, are not of the disease. The way the disease expanse is less. Wearing masks is a very simple act that we all need to do. And I’m very supportive of Wheat Ridge, if Denver moves that way. In public places, that doesn’t mean when you’re doing yard work in your own yard, you need to wear a mask, but when you’re out on a trail that others are on, when you’re going to the grocery store or any store that begins to be open in early May. Very important to protect both the employees there and yourself that you wear a mask.
Jared Polis: (37:04)
Remember we do have an order that we put it in a few days ago that the employees at those stores need to wear a mask. That of course is for both air protection and yours as well, and I really hope that all of us make that choice for the foreseeable future, become a mask wearing culture here in Colorado. It will make a big difference. It will save lives. It will also reduce the severity and duration of the economic disruption. I’m going to go ahead and take one more. If Brandon is back, he can do it or if somebody else.
Speaker 2: (37:39)
Brandon, your line is unmuted.
Jared Polis: (37:45)
So he’s having technical difficulties. We’ll take one more from somebody else. It can be a followup as well. I mean if you just ask, we’ll just take one more.
Speaker 2: (37:52)
Katie Weisinger on the line.
Jared Polis: (37:55)
Thank you, Katie.
Katie W.: (37:56)
Yes, thank you governor for your time. I appreciate it. I wanted to ask, if you wouldn’t mind elaborating just a little bit further about how other counties here in the metro area are starting to move towards extending that stay at home order and how you think that might shift any types of mending we might see in our hospitals. Do you think that might further flatten the curve, make any greater differences? How that will help the general population? Thank you.
Jared Polis: (38:36)
Yeah, so the stay at home order work, the April work, has flattened the curve. We are probably at an arnot of between 0.9 and one, meaning for every person who gets it, it spreads to somewhere between 0.9 and one additional people, which means it’s not really fluctuating much, which means that if people are extending it a week or two weeks, they should not expect a significant reduction in the virus. In Colorado that’s extremely unlikely to occur. We’re really seeing arnot very close to one. That’s what we have to maintain during the safer at home phase. So we have to find a sustainable way where it continues to operate in a way where we’re protecting our most vulnerable, is not rapidly expanded on an exponential curve like it was before the stay at home orders. And whenever these stay at home orders roll off, in some places April 27th, in some places May 8th and some places in between.
Jared Polis: (39:28)
What’s most important, that all of the studies verify as most important, is how are people behaving in May and June after the stay at home. When it’s safer at home, but more people need to earn a livelihood, need to go out and need to engage in a psychologically sustainable way of life that we can maintain for the medium haul, meaning for several months until there’s a cure, a vaccine or herd immunity.
Jared Polis: (39:53)
So that’s really what we’re watching. We look forward to watching and working with jurisdictions that want to go a little faster, that want to go a little bit slower, depending on the health situation on the ground. As long as there’s good thoughtful approach to do that with stakeholders in the community, the health community, the local business community, the elected community. We’re very excited to work with communities on the best way to tailor the public health response and the economic response to the needs of their residents.
Jared Polis: (40:21)
Thank you all for joining us. Our next event, our next publicity will be on Monday. It’ll be a little different. We’ll be walking through a lot of content because it’ll be some of the guidance in all of the different areas around what folks need to do to be able to stay safe in different kinds of businesses that will be operating.
Jared Polis: (40:41)
I also want to thank everybody who’s contributed to helpcoloradonow.org, the COVID relief fund. We had a call with many of the philanthropic partners the other day. They’ve already gotten more than $4 million out the door to help those most effective, raised over $12 million. You can make a donation at helpcoloradonow.org or sign up to volunteer. Thank you all for joining us. We will do these periodically as a way to, not to replace the in person ones, but to allow us to do this in a way that’s safer for all of us, while still knowing that there’s still some added value to getting physically together from time to time, as long as we’re taking the precautions, like wearing masks and being six feet apart during this difficult period. Together we’re going to get through this Colorado. Thank you.