Governor Polis Provides Update on State’s Response to COVID-19

Friday, March 13, 2020

DENVER - Governor Polis, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and public health and safety officials provided an update to the state’s response to COVID-19 (coronavirus) this morning. The Governor issued guidance around large gatherings as well as nursing facilities. He also urged Coloradans to keep perspective in these challenging times and do their part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“Coloradans are resilient. We’ve faced tough times before and we’ve weathered the storm,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We are in the middle of one of the greatest international public health disasters of our lifetime, and it is incumbent on all of us to take it seriously to protect our most vulnerable Coloradans and protect the ability of our state’s health care system to treat them. My administration is working around the clock to address this challenge and we are going to get through this together.” 

The Governor today issued guidance for large gatherings, recommending canceling or postponing any events with more than 250 people unless there are steps taken to ensure a distance of at least six feet between smaller parties at the event. This includes social, spiritual and recreational activities including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers; and similar activities. Community venues where people are in transit, such as airports and malls, are excluded. The Governor has been in communication with local venues as those decisions are being made. Click here to read more. 

In order to scale up our health care workforce capacity, the Governor asked the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to cut through red tape on licensing medical professionals so that medical professionals with licenses in other states can be licensed in Colorado as quickly as possible. The state has already contracted to have dozens of nurses from out-of-state arrive on Monday to help with Colorado communities that have been hit the hardest. CDPHE has also authorized every EMT and paramedic in the state to administer the test.

The Governor also discussed the state’s efforts to protect vulnerable populations and issued an official order restricting visitors at all skilled nursing facilities, assisted living residences and intermediate care facilities. These facilities will now restrict the visitation of non-essential individuals, screen 100 percent of essential individuals prior to entry, and follow protocol if there are any suspected cases. Read more here.

The Governor applauded Pitkin County for standing up a mobile testing lab for their community. The state continues working to open up additional testing sites, but needs more medical providers to come online. The Governor thanked UC Health, Children’s Hospital, Centura, Kaiser Permanente, and community health centers such as Stride for the work that they have done already to collect samples and send out to LabCorp. 

The Governor also asked doctors and nurses who are not currently out of the workforce or retired to reconnect with their past employers in the event the state needs surge capacity.  

The Polis administration will continue to be in close coordination with hospitals about the management of their critical caseload and their elective caseload to best serve the public shall our systems become strained. The Governor also reached out to Anschutz Medical Campus and asked them if they could tap into their network of qualified nursing, medical professionals, pharmaceutical experts, and other graduate students to help the conducting COVID-19 testing to help increase capacity.

The Division of Insurance has made allowances for seniors to get an extra month’s supply of prescription medications.

Furthermore, the state activated the National Guard, and there are over a dozen medics in the National Guard being trained up so they can provide additional testing capacity around the state and train other community medical providers on standing up their own mobile testing labs.

Watch today’s press conference here