Governor Polis Provides Update on COVID-19 Pandemic
DENVER - Today, Governor Jared Polis provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was joined by CDPHE Executive Director Jill Ryan to provide an update on the future of the county-level dial system and our COVID trends, as well as Tri-County Public Health Executive Director Dr. John Douglas. Colorado’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France also participated in the press conference to address Colorado’s response to the CDC and FDA's recommendation to pause distribution and administration of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine in the U.S. following adverse events.
“While we are no longer at high risk of overwhelming our hospital system, it doesn’t mean that your individual risk if you haven’t been fully vaccinated is any less. . We’re seeing an increase of hospitalizations among younger Coloradans and our daily positivity rate has jumped due to a larger presence of the variants. Colorado, I know that we’re eager to be done with COVID, but we’re not quite there. No one is invincible in the face of this virus so it remains critical that we continue taking the necessary safety precautions over the next few weeks and that you get the vaccine when you have the chance.”
Governor Polis highlighted the state’s progress in vaccinating its population, with 25% of eligible Coloradans now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 -- that’s 1.2 million people (1,292,845) and over 3.2 million total doses administered. To date, 2.1 million Coloradans (2,122,809) have received their first dose and are well on their way to full immunization.
Colorado is experiencing a similar increase in infection rates and hospitalizations, tracking with national trends. The Governor urged all Coloradans to continue wearing masks, social distancing, staying home when sick, getting tested if you think you have been exposed to someone with COVID, and gathering outside in small groups instead of opting for the indoors.
Colorado strives to ensure the response at the local level is nimble and reflects its progress. Even with new variants, counties remain in very different places with disease transmission and the state is confident that with great vaccination progress, shifting the role of managing the pandemic through statewide restrictions can successfully transition to greater responsibility at the local level.
As previously announced, the Dial 3.0 will shift to local control on April 16th. The state will not be letting up efforts to suppress the virus, but will continue two important statewide measures to continue protecting Coloradans no matter where they live which includes a statewide mask mandate and capacity limits for the highest risk settings of indoor mass gatherings. Information on this updated Public Health Order will be available on Thursday and go into effect on Friday. Colorado anticipates that many local governments will go above and beyond these state measures.
“Our North Star has always been to make sure everyone who needed a bed, could get a bed. We believe that we’re at the right point to turn control over to local governments, though the pandemic is certainly not over yet.” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Dr. John Douglas, Executive Director, Tri-County Public Health, representing local public health agencies (LPHAs), spoke about the need for collaboration between neighboring LPHAs. In the short-term, Tri-County Health and metro Denver area agencies, including Broomfield, Boulder, Jefferson, Denver countries, will be extending the dial via the Metro Denver Partnership for Health. “This regional approach will create stability, consistency and a path to full reopening,” said Dr. Douglas.
At the beginning of the press conference, Dr. France announced that, as of April 13, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Joint Vaccine Task Force are requiring providers to temporarily stop administration of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine in the state.
Federal health officials at the FDA and CDC have recommended temporarily suspending use of the vaccine after reviewing reports of six individuals in the U.S. who got rare and severe blood clots after receiving the vaccine.
Individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine more than a month ago are at very low risk of serious side effects. Anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine within the last three weeks and who develops severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath should contact their health care provider. These symptoms are different from the flu-like symptoms people may experience after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Anyone scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine will either receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead, or the vaccine provider will contact them to reschedule their appointment once FDA and CDC release additional information. The state’s mobile vaccination buses, which have been administering only the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine, are canceled today and Wednesday. The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine makes up only a small portion of Colorado’s weekly vaccine allocation. Most vaccine clinics will not be significantly affected.
For Coloradans who have not yet been vaccinated, please consider signing up today at a provider near you. A list can be found at COCOVIDVACCINE.org or by calling 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926).
Watch today’s press conference here.