Governor Polis April 18, 2020 Updates

April 18, 2020

Quick Links to Stay Up to Date

Topline Update

As of yesterday, we have 9,047 cases, 391 deaths, and 1,755 hospitalizations (858 are currently hospitalized; 203 were discharged in the last 24 hours) out of 43,307 completed tests. Our thoughts and our hearts go out to the impacted families and communities during these trying times.

UPDATE to Public Health Order for Long Term Care Facilities

We know that facilities that serve seniors are particularly vulnerable vectors for infection. That’s why in the first week of this crisis, we issued a public health order to prevent outbreaks that required that facilities restrict visitation and require screening for staff and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 before they come to the facility, among other things like ensuring social distancing, taking isolation precautions for residents that need to be quarantined, increase effective communication between staff, residents and their families to ensure compliance, ensure adequate supply needs are met, ensure proper sanitation to prevent to spread of infection, notifying public health officials when a case is confirmed and requiring that all wear masks.

Yesterday, the Governor announced that we are updating this public health order to require these long-term care facilities to develop a detailed isolation plan and submit that plan to our Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) by May 1st. With so many vulnerable individuals and frontline health care staff in close contact, we need to have better planning and better protections to stop the spread of the virus within these facilities. The Governor has also deployed the National Guard to conduct testing at three of the largest nursing homes in the state to prevent outbreaks, and we will be deploying additional testing resources and personnel to other facilities as needed.

In early May, we expect there will be 200 beds in supplemental facilities that will be available for isolation of seniors if their facilities can not provide these beds with a proper level of isolation. The first beds identified for seniors are at St Anthony's North in Westminster.

Furthermore, the administration will be more focused on education, training, and compliance in order to keep these vulnerable communities safe. Below is a video that our Colorado Department of Public Safety put together to illustrate what you can be doing to enact these protocols to ensure protection at facilities.

Click here to view Video:

NEW Executive Order that Requires Masks for Essential Workers

In an effort to further protect workers and residents in senior living facilities, as well as workers in other essential occupations and the public at large, the Governor has issued a new executive order that will require workers in critical businesses and critical government functions where workers interact in close proximity with other employees or with the public. These include grocery store workers, staff at congregate care facilities, and the folks who are still going to work each day to protect our food supply, roads, public health, etc. 

Workers must wear a mask or non-medical cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth while working, except when doing so would inhibit that individual’s health and wear gloves when in contact with customers or goods. Most employers and workers are already doing this and we salute them for their proactive steps to help us defeat this virus. But the more people wear masks at their critical workplaces, and the more people wear masks when going about their necessary errands, the more lives will be saved and the sooner we can get the economy growing again.

COVID-19 Relief Fund

Yesterday, the Governor announced that we are disbursing $4.8 million in our first round of grants from the COVID-19 Relief Fund. We’re funding 206 organizations across the state, going to organizations around the state working to serve:

  • Families impacted by school or childcare closures

  • Health care, hospitality, service industry, and gig economy workers

  • Workers displaced by business closures

  • Workers without access to paid sick leave

  • Older Coloradans living on a fixed or low income

  • Those experiencing homelessness

  • People with disabilities

  • People without health insurance

  • Immigrant and refugee communities

  • Tribal governments

  • And victims of domestic violence or child abuse

Today the fund is at $12.2 million including $1.3 M from almost 7,000 donors. This includes a very generous gift of $1 million from Pinnacol Assurance. This week, CO Health Foundation stepped up to help with a $2 million dollar match challenge to kickoff the next phase of fundraising.  The challenge is meant to inspire corporations, philanthropies and individual donors who can give a minimum gift of $10,000 to the fund.

We are so grateful for their continued partnership and leadership to encourage other foundations, corporations and individuals to give for the first time or contribute an additional gift to support the important work of grantees across our state. Furthermore, Colorado Gives Day is coming up on May 5 which is a wonderful opportunity to give at Thank you all for stepping up to do your part and keep Colorado strong.

Unemployment Assistance Update
The Governor announced yesterday that gig workers and independent contractors who have seen decreased revenue due to COVID-19 can begin applying for unemployment insurance on Monday. We had been waiting on federal guidance for how to administer benefits to gig workers through the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program passed in the CARES Act. Thank you Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) for working to get this up and running. Furthermore, the $600 per week in extra federal unemployment insurance from the CARES Act will start to show up in unemployment checks this week. This is crucial to helping families make ends meet as we continue to deal with this public health crisis. Please visit for more details.

COVID Health Equity Response Team

On Monday we released racial data regarding positive COVID cases and deaths. The data showed that some communities of color are more likely to suffer from COVID. The Governor said that this was likely a proxy for other societal inequities because we know that people of color are statistically more likely to work jobs considered “essential” and are therefore at a higher risk of exposure, statistically less likely to have access to benefits like health insurance and paid sick leave and as a result, are statistically more likely to suffer from underlying health conditions that may worsen the symptoms of COVID-19.

That is why the Governor announced that he is establishing the COVID Health Equity Response Team to address these inequities and ensure that all Coloradans, regardless of race or ethnicity, has access to the resources that they need to keep themselves healthy and safe. This team will be headed by Web Brown, the Director of the Office of Health Equity at CDPHE.

The task force will work to:

  • Ensure equity as a factor in decision-making around logistics and resources,

  • Increase access to testing and care services,

  • Ensure racial and ethnicity COVID-19 data are accessible, transparent and used in decision-making,

  • And share time-sensitive information about how Colorado communities are experiencing particular challenges related to the COVID-19 response.

REMINDER: Recreate in Your Own Area
Finally, with the weekend coming up we wanted to reiterate our guidelines for outdoor recreation. Do not drive outside of your local area. Use your local parks. Denver residents shouldn’t be driving even to the foothills. Summit County residents shouldn’t be driving three hours to Mesa to use bike trails, etc. Keep at least 6 feet distance on trails and don’t congregate on the trailhead. The mountains and trails and rivers will be there when COVID-19 is past us so please be patient as we work to stop the spread and bring back normalcy.

Impact on Rural Colorado

We know that this crisis presents a unique challenge for our rural areas both from a public health perspective and an economic perspective. Right now this is hitting our urban centers fairly hard and specific mountain communities very hard. But a new report from the Council of State Governments details how this crisis is shaping up in our rural communities where we are likely to see larger numbers of uninsured individuals and families, less access to healthcare and hospitals where there are fewer providers because areas don’t benefit from the same economies of scale, greater at-risk population to COVID-19, poor connectivity, both from a transportation and a broadband perspective and a delayed economic hit that may last longer.

We’re working with counties in every corner of our state to mitigate the impact of this deadly virus in every community. But no matter where you live in our state you must take this seriously and stay at home to stop the spread and save lives. The better we do this, the sooner we can go back to some level of normalcy.