Governor Polis Launches Campaign Encouraging Coloradans to Wear Masks, Provides Update on COVID-19 Response

Thursday, June 4, 2020

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis today launched a new campaign, “Our Masks are Our Passport to the Colorado We Love,” including a public service announcement, encouraging Coloradans to wear masks as much as possible when they leave the house. 

The Governor today delayed the start of the news conference to accommodate the timing of George Floyd’s memorial service. Gov. Polis praised the demonstrators who have continued making their voices heard and remarked on the wise words of Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s daughter.

“A video of George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter Gianna, being carried on the shoulders of one of George’s closest friends went viral this week. Smiling, she declares: ‘Daddy changed the world.’ And he certainly did. One of the best things about being a parent is those moments when our children show us wisdom in an unexpected way. Let us allow Gianna Floyd’s youthful wisdom to guide us in our quest for justice and equality. Let us live up to an innocent child’s expectations of what this country is capable of, and let us deliver on her promise of a changed world,” the Governor said.

“The modeling shows that if we want to avoid a catastrophic breach of our health care system, and if we want to re-open our economy to a greater degree, then masks are absolutely essential,” Governor Polis said. “Here in our great state, your mask is your passport to the Colorado we love, and will play an important part in keeping yourself and those around you safe. Studies show that men are particularly reluctant to wear a mask, because they think it makes them look weak or uncool. But real weakness is being too insecure to wear a mask and then spreading coronavirus to your family when you get back home. At the end of the day, wearing a mask allows us to enjoy more of the Colorado we love.”

Watch the public service announcement

The Governor thanked Healthier Colorado, who partnered with the state to make this campaign happen, and the Colorado Outdoor Advertising Association who will be donating billboards for the campaign. The City of Westminster, Leevers Supermarkets, the Early Bird Restaurant, Pancho Cabrera, Metalonge, and all the volunteers were critical in the creation of this public service announcement. 

Gov. Polis also signed Executive Order D 2020 092, amending and extending prior Executive Orders concerning non-medical face coverings, to provide discretion to employers and operators of places of public accommodation to deny admittance or service and require the removal of any individual who fails to wear a medical or non-medical face covering. This Executive Order takes effect immediately. 

Today, the state finalized guidance for places of worship, outdoor recreation and personal recreation. Drafts were released on Monday, June 1 and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment solicited input from stakeholders and industry before releasing final versions today. This guidance now allows houses of worship to allow up to 50% capacity, but no more than 50 people for in-person worship. This also allows for pools to open in a limited capacity. 

The Governor also announced plans to bolster the state’s education system through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund or the GEER fund. This $44 million from the federal government is intended to provide broad flexibility for Governors to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on high-needs students from preschool through higher education. The majority of this funding will be utilized for a new P-20 Equity and Innovation Fund. School districts, charter schools, institutions of higher education, and tribes will be invited to apply alone, in consortia, or with a partner. These funds will be utilized to address the impact of COVID-19 slide by transforming schools, improving transitions between P-12 and higher education, and increasing student-centered learning. 

Gov. Polis announced that the Behavioral Health Task Force will publish an interim report outlining short and long-term impacts on the behavioral health system, including access to and affordability of services. Members will also evaluate the behavioral health crisis response to COVID-19 and recommend improvements for future events.

The task force is sponsored by Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera. Members of the task force include:

  • Yadira Caraveo, State House of Representatives

  • Cara Cheevers, Colorado Division of Insurance

  • Lila Cummings, Colorado Hospital Association

  • Curt Drennen, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Co-Chair

  • Daniel Darting, Signal Behavioral Health Network

  • Doyle Forrestel, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council

  • Camille Harding, Colorado Department of Human Services

  • Joy Hart, Colorado Department of Corrections

  • Brenda Heimbach, El Paso County Public Health Office

  • DeAnne House, Ute Mountain Ute

  • Cheri Jahn, Colorado Provider Association

  • Jan James, Larimer County Human Services 

  • Tracy Johnson, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing

  • Kim Nordstrom, Colorado Access

  • Carrie Paykoc, Office of eHealth Innovation

  • Rod Pelton, State House of Representatives

  • Susie Walton, Park County Human Services

  • Robert Werthwein, Colorado Department of Human Services, Co-Chair

  • Leon Wittner, Consumer - parent

  • Anthony Young, Association of Black Psychologists

The Governor also announced the state is launching LIFELINE PASS, a project that will encourage nursing homes and senior care facilities to allow visitation from relatives who safely test negative for Coronavirus. As the state works on the guidelines over the next week or so, this new program will allow people who test negative for Coronavirus, and have no known exposure or symptoms, to visit their loved ones. A 48-hour pass after a negative test can reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus to those who are most vulnerable and help make sure that residents of those facilities can receive visits in a reasonably safe way.

View the full news conference on the Governor’s Facebook page.