Apr 8, 2020
Colorado Governor Jared Polis COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 8
Colorado governor Jared Polis’ coronavirus press briefing from today. Read the full transcript here.
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Jared Polis: (00:00)
Induction normally as 12 or 15 people, you need to have less if you can. And I know there’s a camera person, an audio person. You might have to have somebody who performs a song. It’s unlikely to be a choir, in the sense that it used to be. That could be a very dangerous situation for members of that choir. But the online streaming ability needs to be there, and so many churches across our state have done an amazing job and I know they’re going to do an even more amazing production for Sunday.
Jared Polis: (00:30)
Other pastors have invited their congregants into their home. Now figuratively, not literally; they’re not physically there. But they’ve shown intimacy with members of their church by protecting from their own home library or study, and really reaching a form of intimate fellowship in a way that can even be more effective than some of the traditional ways that those houses of worship operated, especially in these challenging times. So many faith leaders of all denominations across our state have risen to the occasion every Sunday, since this has began, and will rise to the occasion on Easter Sunday.
Jared Polis: (01:10)
Next slide. That’s the online streaming.
Jared Polis: (01:13)
Drive up, as we mentioned, there’s a way that that can be done. And again, that needs to be coordinated with County Health as well. There’s also the issue of noises in neighborhoods, and where cars can be, and all those normal things. But from a health perspective, there’s a way to do that, and make sure to coordinate with County Health. It’s not for every church. Most can reach more people better through streaming technologies, but certainly that’s available for those on Easter Sunday.
Jared Polis: (01:42)
Jared Polis: (01:44)
And finally of course for secular Coloradans, humanist Coloradans, those who are not people of faith, it’s also an important time of year. Spring is the time that we all want to have picnics with our friends. We want to venture outdoors after what has been a long and snowy winter, although there’s some snowy days ahead as well. But it’s important that people defer those spring traditions. Defer any celebratory events associated with the Spring Equinox and involve different people, and just quietly reflect on spring and rebirth in your own home. For those of us who enjoy traditions like Easter egg hunting, as my family does, we usually have our kids do it with other friends and kids. In fact, we host an Easter egg hunt right here at The Governor’s Mansion for members of the military, kids who are stationed abroad every year. It’s a wonderful event. Obviously we’re not doing that this year with our kids. We’re not doing an egg hunt with their friends. We’re going to do an egg hunt with just our kids, and so we’ll have some fun with it; they’ll have some fun looking for the eggs. And I know that that’s what families across the state, and across the country, across the world, who like to engage in Easter egg traditions are doing, and as a nice craft tradition we’ll spend more time doing some of the decorating around those eggs as well.
Jared Polis: (03:07)
I want to thank the Boettcher Foundation. They recently announced additional support for research here in Colorado, which is so important. But before we get to that, I want to introduce Reverend Amanda Henderson to talk a bit about what faith leaders are doing to serve the people of faith of our great state. Reverend Henderson is the executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. She’s an ordained Christian minister. She’s a co-chair of the governor’s, my, Clergy Council. She has served as a pastor and continues to work in different communities of faith. She’s been so helpful in assembling weekly calls for me with hundreds of faith leaders from across the state and making sure that, for Coloradans of faith, that we’re able to get through this with the spiritual and pastoral support and the fellowship that we need at a time when that physical proximity is dangerous to that very sanctity of life that we elevate in our faith traditions.
Jared Polis: (04:07)
Amanda Henderson: (04:13)
Thank you, Governor.
Amanda Henderson: (04:15)
Good afternoon. My name is Amanda Henderson. And I am a pastor in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, and the executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.
Amanda Henderson: (04:25)
As a Christian, I’m in the midst of Holy Week, preparing to celebrate Easter. This year my family will be celebrating virtually with our congregation, and we’ll be hunting for eggs in our own backyard with just the five of us, though we will also do a Zoom gathering with our extended family and connect and celebrate.
Amanda Henderson: (04:47)
My Jewish friends are beginning Passover tonight, and my Muslim friends are preparing to begin Ramadan in a couple of weeks: the month of fasting and honoring their connection to God. This is typically a time when we are celebrating spring and marking our holy rituals, spending time with family and friends, and gathering as community. But as you know, COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything and impacted every one of us, including faith communities. While we grieve all that comes with the loss of these changes, and I share in that sadness of losing the traditions that we hold dear in this moment for this year, I also want to name that we also have an opportunity to live into our faith in new and deepening ways in this time.
Amanda Henderson: (05:45)
The truth is the most faithful thing that we can do right now is to stay home. The way we can show love and compassion and commitment, the way can love our neighbors, is to assure that we stop the spread of COVID-19. This means staying home and finding innovative ways to mark our holy days. We know that we can practice our faith and experience connection to God wherever we are. Congregations from across the state have been working hard to assure that people’s spiritual, emotional, and physical needs are being met. Churches, synagogues, and mosques have adapted to this health crisis with creativity and heart. I’ve been inspired by the many things that I’ve seen congregations doing to build community in new and different ways, like broadcasting worship services online. Even the Red Rock service that’s normally held at Easter each year will be online this year. Shabbat services have been happening every week, live on Facebook, and many of my friends are sharing Passover meals online with family and friends. The Muslim community in Colorado has been hard at work making plans to be able to practice iftar virtually, and to celebrate their prayers during the month of Ramadan while being apart.
Amanda Henderson: (07:14)
Additionally, faith communities are always on the front lines serving those most vulnerable. And this time has been no different. Our local Sikh community has begun an in-home delivery service for anyone in need. Faith communities across the state are advocating, and stepping up to assure that those experiencing homelessness have single-occupancy housing. Faith communities are providing childcare to first responders, and assuring that those who are living alone know that they are not forgotten.
Amanda Henderson: (07:46)
In this sacred season it is important, and we feel it in our bodies, that we are all in this together. Even though we’re practicing physical distancing, we are socially connected via email, texting, phone calls, FaceTime, video conferencing, and even across our backyard fences, six feet apart. I don’t know about you but I’m finding, in this time, that I feel in some ways more connected than ever to the people I love and to those who I want to assure are kept safe. So in that light I encourage all people of faith, no matter what your tradition, to observe your religious traditions this year from home, and to stay safe and stay healthy. I believe at the end of this we, will find ourselves on the other side stronger and more connected with, new and innovative ways of building community and supporting one another.
Amanda Henderson: (08:56)
Jared Polis: (09:00)
And there’s also many Coloradans listening who are secular, or humanist, or Buddhist, or might not have a particular ritual attachment to this time of year. And just understand the importance of this to Christian Coloradans, to Jewish Coloradans, and so many others, there are dates that are important to all of us on the calendar. For those Coloradans who are secular, it might be American holidays like the 4th of July, which also happens to be my daughter’s birthday, or the American Thanksgiving. Or it could be a date that’s important to you personally, like your own birthday or the birth date of your spouse or loved one. That’s how many Coloradans, Coloradans of faith view the Easter holiday, the Orthodox Easter holiday, Ramadan, Passover.
Jared Polis: (09:40)
And so even though, if this is not important to you in your life, and there are certainly many proud Coloradans that are not part of the Christian or Jewish or Muslim faith, just understand the importance of these days to people of faith, just as you understand the importance of those days that are important to you. Imagine 4th of July, if that’s your holiday, where you aren’t going out to see fireworks and having a barbecue with friends. If that’s important in your life, this is of even greater importance to those who are in the different spiritual traditions. So I just want Coloradans to understand why it’s important to talk about and share the different ways that we can experience fellowship at a very challenging time during a global pandemic. It’s questions that Coloradans are alone aren’t facing. It’s questions that have been faced in Italy and Spain. It’s questions that are being faced in New York City. It’s questions that are being faced across our entire country.
Jared Polis: (10:34)
I want to give you an update on some of our relief efforts. Boettcher Foundation created a $1 million biomedical research fund to fight COVID-19. We know there’s researchers across our state, both researchers at CSU as well as clinical research being done at Anschutz and other locations, working hard to develop and test plasma treatments, vaccines, drug therapies. Thank you, Boettcher Foundation, for empowering that work.
Jared Polis: (11:02)
I also want to thank Danielle Oliveto and Sarah Andrews, on our staff, who are handling the helpcoloradonow.org work. Colorado has really risen to the occasion. And I also want to thank both Coloradans who are working with their faith organizations, as well as secular nonprofits, that are helping their neighbors, that are delivering groceries to their 75-year-old neighbors so they don’t have to go out and helping those in need. Thank you to all of you for doing that. We have about 10,000 volunteers who have signed up at helpcoloradonow.org. That’s amazing, that 10,000 Coloradans have signed up. We especially need those of course with medical training, but there’s people that are needed across the board in different areas. Your services may or may not be called upon. But if you have the ability to help the time to help, please sign up to do so at helpcoloradonow.org, and if your services are needed there’s a … on the form, what you can do, and your background, and we’ll let you know.
Jared Polis: (12:00)
I’m also very proud to report that the relief fund is just under $10 million now, with $1 million raised in small donations from over 5,000 donors at helpcoloradonow.org. Nonprofits and those in need are already applying for funding, and there’s $4 million going out the door right away to over 1,100 grassroots community organizations, prevention, impact, and they’re going through that regularly. The whole purpose of the money you’re donating is to get out the door. It’s getting out the door very quickly, working with Mile High, United Way, and others.
Jared Polis: (12:37)
I also want to encourage folks to apply. And I want to be clear that in this time when we’re in our homes, if anybody is suffering from domestic abuse, you should of course leave your home under this order if you feel unsafe. This is not an order that in any way should make people stay at home if you’re unsafe in your home environment. And the order is not an excuse for abusers to traumatize domestic partners or kids, and no one should feel unsafe if you have to leave your home. If you feel unsafe, please call the Domestic Violence Hotline, (800) 799-7233.
Jared Polis: (13:16)
Finally, more than 250 Colorado National Guard members have been mobilized and are on state active duty to help the State Emergency Operations Center, in the County of Denver, to shelter people in Denver that are experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s an important public health issue; it’s important from a humanitarian perspective. Under my command, the Colorado National Guard is providing planners to support local emergency operations in distributive centers, and non-congregated centers, where needed. I want to thank the brave men and women of the Guard for assisting in this effort and during these difficult times. Especially in a season of hope, season of liberation, season of resurrection, we of course need to look out for those who are most vulnerable among us, both economically as well as at great health health risk because of this virus.
Jared Polis: (14:06)
We all need to step up and be there for one another in this trying time. And that’s what gives me the faith that we’re going to pull through this in Colorado: our great Colorado spirit, everybody working hard, doing their part, staying home whenever they can, wearing masks if you have to go out, and giving what we can so we can defeat and squash this virus and get back to a normal life, and productivity, and supporting ourselves as much as we can here in this amazing state that we live.
Jared Polis: (14:36)
With that, I’ll be happy to take some questions.
Jared Polis: (14:40)
Thank you [inaudible 00:14:41] The April 26 date is still in place. I’m just wondering [inaudible 00:14:46] people that are listening and watching, what do you hear from the experts, and where are we as to the peak that’s coming, perhaps?
Jared Polis: (14:55)
The next week of data is going to be absolutely critical to see the trajectory. Because what we’re seeing now is a slowdown in the rate of increase. That’s a wonderful thing, but that is from the bars and the restaurants closing. We’re just starting to see, maybe today, tomorrow, the next few days, or we won’t really know the impact for a full week, of how much people are staying at home. And that’s because of this delay factor, right? Everybody stays home. Whatever percent that is, it doesn’t have any effect on the number of people that get it the next day, the day after, the day after, because it takes four or five days, it can’t even take longer, to develop symptoms. But I think you can average that we understand we can work with this four or five days. Some people have not shown symptoms for eight or nine days, but four or five days, the symptoms. But then from the onset of symptoms, the need to hospitalization, 9, 10, 11 days as well.
Jared Polis: (15:44)
So we will see the impact of how many Coloradans are staying at home. And the models that were released the other day that wonderful senior researchers have put together show really different results based on whether 60% of folks are staying at home, 70%, or 80%. Now it’s a little more granular than that. It’s not the percentage of people that stay at home. It’s the overall reduction in social mixing that occurs, right? So the people that are in a critical space and go to work, they might be interacting with almost as many people at work as they always have done. Others might be cutting off all … Like my parents, they’re seeing no one, right? They’re both 75, and my mom has respiratory issues, and they’re staying home, and they’ve got all their groceries delivered and all that. So it’s the average that matters. And if we can achieve that 70% or greater, we’ll be in very good shape. We also need to prepare for whatever comes our way.
Jared Polis: (16:38)
So the more Coloradans have been staying at home, and are staying at home, the sooner we can end these horrible restrictions that interfere with our quality of life, our ability to earn a living, our economic growth, all of those things. And again, it’s not a contest to see what you can get away with, because of course you can get away with what you get away with. It’s about a contest to see how soon we can end these horrible restrictions by staying at home and limiting your social contact, and the life you save could be your own.
Jared Polis: (17:11)
Can you talk about your progress [inaudible 00:17:13]?
Jared Polis: (17:18)
Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for taking precautions.
Can you talk about your conversations with the White House in the last 48 hours or so regarding the problems Coloradans have had getting ventilators?
Jared Polis: (17:25)
So I’m in regular touch with the White House. This morning I, along with a small group of governors, the Executive Council, the National Governors Association, spoke to Secretary Mnuchin. I’ll get back to the other stuff in a minute, Marianne, but there’s a lot of moving parts.
Jared Polis: (17:39)
So we talked about some of the issues that Colorado companies are having with the Paycheck Protection Program, a great program. Secretary Mnuchin reiterated the Administration’s for increasing the size of that program so that companies that need that two and a half months of payroll, to be able to keep their employees, can get it. There’s been great demand. This is really important because if you work for one of these companies that may or may not lay you off, they’re a lot less likely … Less Coloradans are being laid off because of this paycheck protection program that enables companies to have a forgivable loan for two and a half months of payroll, as long as they keep you on payroll.
Jared Polis: (18:16)
And for many Coloradans, and Americans, we get our healthcare from from being employed, retirement benefits. There are people who have lost their job of course, but it would be a lot more people who have lost their job if it wasn’t for that. Secretary Mnuchin, along with the governors who spoke on the call, I think it was six or seven governors and I, I shared some of our concerns, addressed that.
Jared Polis: (18:38)
We are also in regular touch with FEMA, the Administration, about supplies. We are tracking that at the same time that we are doing everything we can ourselves through our innovation group, through the folks that are working hard for Colorado to be able to purchase supplies in the international market. We’ve been focused on personal protection equipment. We hope that that news will get better in the days ahead. I want to thank the CSU lab which is testing our supplies.
Jared Polis: (19:08)
Check there’s sound here.
Jared Polis: (19:09)
CSU has agreed to test the materials. They already are testing masks and surgical gowns and other equipment that we’ve been acquiring. And of course we continue to express our needs to FEMA. We generally make those public as well. I think you saw a letter to the vice president and a letter … I think it was addressed to FEMA, but there’s been two letters in the last week where we put numbers to our ask. And we appreciate any and all help. And timelines are so important because what we need from FEMA, and what we need from any supplier, is really the same thing: on this date, on April 14th, this many masks, this location, will arrive; this many ventilators, this location, will arrive. But with both suppliers in the private sector as well as FEMA, what we really need are the date and the quantity so we can build it all into our overall plan.
Speaker 5: (20:01)
Thank you, Governor. This is David. [inaudible 00:20:09] As you are aware, a shipment of those ventilators were on their way to Colorado that you all had attempted to purchase. They were diverted by the federal government. And today Senator Gardner was given credit by the president for getting a hundred of those ventilators from the feds. Can we get your briefing on what happened here and why? And are you satisfied overall with the PPEs being provided by the government and its stockpile?
Jared Polis: (20:34)
Well you’re not really going to get my read on it because I’m not here to do political analysis. I’m here to celebrate any ventilators that arrive in our state, and of course we’re grateful for a hundred ventilators. If Coloradans are successful at staying at home in very high numbers, we are hopeful that the surge will be developed in time. We are continuing to both activate and adapt events in Colorado. The number of events that we have in Colorado is now about 500 more than when this crisis started. And that’s a combination of purchasing, adapting, borrowing, hospital work, the FEMA and …