Gov. Polis Provides Update on Colorado COVID-19 Response

Thursday, July 23, 2020

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis today provided an update on testing in Colorado. 

“Testing continues to be a critical part of Colorado’s strategy to combat this virus and I’m proud of the incredible work our state lab has done over these past few months to increase capacity. There is still a lot of work to do to ensure that every Coloradan can get tested and receive results in a timely manner and we will continue working with private partners to ensure those goals are met,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I want to thank our front line health care workers across the state who are serving their communities and supporting our response to this pandemic. Coloradans can support them wearing masks when we leave the house, washing our hands, and following social distancing protocol and reducing social interactions as much as possible.”

Colorado remains committed to the following three goals in the approach to maintaining COVID-19:

  • Acquiring more PPE, including masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, and testing equipment;

  • Expanding testing, tracking, and tracing capacity;

  • Ensuring hospitals and local public health agencies can meet the need if we do have another surge of cases.

The Governor today announced that as a result of state lab expansion and partnerships with the private sector, Colorado has increased testing from 160 Coloradans per day back in March to administering over 10,000 tests per day on average and exceeding 12,000 tests a day in recent days. On July 19, the state lab processed an all time high of 3,803 tests. That day, Colorado also hit our overall combined high between the state lab and private labs with 12,413 tests processed. Colorado’s 7-day average is 10,317 tests per day total, and more than 3,000 for the state lab. The state lab has also added a third, overnight shift to process more tests and keep turn around time low.

The state has also worked to increase supplies. Since April, Colorado has purchased 300,000 tests and 450,000 swab kits through international suppliers, and is expecting 300,000 more tests plus 800,000 swab kits over the next eight weeks. Another 300,000 swabs have been purchased and delivered from United States suppliers, and 500,000 kits are expected by the end of September. Colorado is also working to expand and diversify testing capacity as much as possible through innovation, introducing new and more efficient testing methods. That’s why the state lab has invoked the authority from the Food and Drug Administration to approve novel tests for use in Colorado. Over the next few weeks, the state will be evaluating an innovative saliva test that has the potential to significantly expand surveillance testing capabilities. Over time, academic and private lab partners will be expanding the types of samples that can be collected for testing, including working with Curative to introduce a cheek swab test in Colorado, in settings where repeated testing is appropriate.

Contract tracing is another key element of how Colorado will reach its goals. Thanks to the 115 full-time COVID-19 case investigators and contact tracers Colorado’s Department of Public Health & Environment, Colorado has been able to reach out to 96% of positive cases within a 48 hour window, where 72% have responded. Last month, Gov. Polis announced that the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) would be mobilizing more than 800 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members to support the State of Colorado’s COVID-19 response through contact tracing and other associated work. To date, 423 contact tracers have started working, and an additional 300 AmeriCorps NCCC members, 350 VISTA Summer Associates, and 100-200 Senior Corps volunteers will be joining them over the course of the next year.

The Governor released an update to the Executive Order D 2020 144 today requiring a cease in alcohol beverage sales to end consumers at 10:00 p.m. MDT each day. Rather than applying to all who are licensed to sell alcohol, the Executive Order has been amended to apply to only those who are licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption. Alcohol may still be delivered and grocery and liquor stores may continue alcohol sales after 10:00 p.m. Last call for sales for on-premise alcohol consumption or takeout alcohol orders is at 10:00 p.m. This takes effect at 10:00 p.m. today, July 23, 2020. Gov. Polis also extended an Executive Order D 2020 145 allowing voluntary or elective surgeries.