Governor Polis Provides Update on COVID-19

Saturday, November 14, 2020

DENVER - Governor Polis provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and made several significant announcements.

“I will never give up on Coloradans and I know we have the resolve to do what is necessary to defeat this virus. Cases and hospitalizations have continued rising with over 1100 Coloradans currently hospitalized for COVID,” said Governor Polis. “We simply must do a better job of wearing masks, physically distaning and avoiding social interactions with those outside our households. It’s up to us, Colorado, the time for change is now.”

The Governor announced that given the rise in cases across our state, he has ordered the State Emergency Operations Center to return to level 1. This is the highest level of operation and brings together all state agencies, federal partners and the voluntary organizations that serve the State’s communities in crisis. At this level, the EOC can better coordinate and synchronize the State’s response to the pandemic.

In addition, the Governor shared that he has signed an Executive Order that will clarify the order of operations for surging hospital capacity for the State of Colorado. The first line of defense is for hospitals to increase their capacity internally by opening up unused space and augmenting their staffing. If further capacity is needed, then hospitals must scale back elective procedures. If patient load continues to surge after these steps the state will support the Colorado Hospital Association to address the interhospital transfer system, and if caseload further exceeds these strategies, alternative care sites will be utilized as a last resort. Hospitals need to exhaust all of their resources before alternative care sites are utilized. 

This Executive Order directs all general hospitals to submit a plan to the state with their maximum surge bed count by Wednesday November 18th and a complete surge plan to CDPHE by November 20th, 2020, and must include:

  • A detailed plan to potentially increase bed capacity by at least fifty percent (50%) and provide staffing and medical equipment for such increase;
  • Strategies to increase the number of ICU beds by transitioning medical and surgical beds to ICU beds if needed. 
  • A detailed staffing plan, sufficient to provide adequate care for all beds, including those in use or available to patients other than COVID-19 patients.
  • A mandate for elective procedures to be actively managed, reduced and/ or delayed if there is a surge of COVID-19 infections in the county or municipality in which the Facility is located. 

It also directs that all hospitals report the maximum number of staffed ICU beds that can be made available for patients in need of ICU level care, as well as the maximum number of staffed medical and surgical beds available for non ICU hospitalization at 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. each day. Hospitals and medical providers are encouraged to continue utilizing telehealth and virtual visits as much as possible. 

Under current public health orders, hospitals that are at more than 70% capacity or have less than a two-week supply of PPE must actively manage their elective procedures to ensure they have adequate capacity for a surge of patients, which has been the law of Colorado since July. Governor Polis shared that he plans to update both the executive orders and public health order to make it clear that hospitals experiencing stress and strain serving patients must begin a mandatory scale back of elective procedures in anticipation for a surge of patients in the coming weeks. 

The Governor extended an Executive Order increasing the Medicaid home health workforce and eliminating cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment for Medicaid enrollees. The Governor also extended an Executive Order related to criminal justice. Finally, the governor amended and extended an Executive Order concerning multiple fires statewide.  

Governor Polis announced the good news that more than one million Coloradans have opted in to receiving the Colorado Exposure Notification technology which went live on all Android and Apple phones last month. Coloradans can visit for more information or to sign up.

In order to scale up testing, the State is partnering with COVIDCheck Colorado, part of Gary Community Investments, who has launched seven testing sites around the metro area that are now open to the general public. 

“Through our partnership with the State of Colorado, COVIDCheck Colorado has made fast and accurate COVID-19 testing available to all Coloradans, free of charge, through December 2020,” said Mike Johnston, CEO, Gary Investments.  If you are symptomatic or have been exposed to COVID-19 - Test Now. If you are working in a public facing capacity - Test Regularly. If you feel you need a test for any reason - Test As Needed.”

CovidCheck Colorado test are available at the following locations:

  • All City Stadium: 1495 S. Race Street, Denver, CO 80210
  • Cherry Creek High School: 4700 S. Yosemite Street, Greenwood Village, CO 80111
  • Instructional Support Facility: 5416 S. Riviera Way Aurora, CO 80015
  • North High School: 3125 Eliot Street, Denver, CO 80211
  • Mountain Range High: 12500 Huron Street Westminster, CO 80234
  • St. Vrain Valley Schools Innovation Center: 33 Quail Road, Longmont, CO 80504
  • Aurora Public Schools Professional Learning Center: 15771 E. 1st Ave, Aurora, CO 80011

The Governor’s presentation can be viewed here.