GOV. POLIS: COVID-19 Will Be With Us For Awhile

Gov. Jared Polis speaks outside the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on Friday, April 10, 2020.

It could very well be that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis lifts the state's stay-at-home order on the currently scheduled date of April 26.

Regardless of when he lifts the order, Gov. Polis said that will not mark the end of the battle against COVID-19.

"Until there's that vaccine or that definitive cure, the virus will be with us," the governor said. "How do we function as a society and be able to get back to work and enjoy life more in a sustainable way? [People] are not going to be able to be locked down in their homes for many months on end. That's not realistic. What's realistic is we're able to get back to work and earn a living and that at least we're able to enjoy the Colorado we love a bit more."

"The virus will still be here. People will still get it," Gov. Polis continued. "The goal of this entire stay-at-home order is not to end the presence of COVID-19 in Colorado or in America. That's not realistic. What is realistic to do is make sure we have the medical capacity in place. We used to show those diagrams where it flattens the curve. People die from this virus in May and June and July but it doesn't exceed our healthcare capacity and those whose lives can be saved will have that fighting chance."

Gov. Polis spoke outside the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is turning into a makeshift hospital to help handle a potential surge in COVID-19 patients.

"We expect this facility will be operational in about two weeks or so," he said. "There's a similar alternative care site in Loveland at The Ranch complex. These are to decompress and protect our hospitals."

The governor does not envision the additional facilities to be overflowing with COVID-19 patients.

"I don't think any of us should expect that this facility will ever have to be full," he said. "Unfortunately, I also don't expect that it'll be completely empty."

The governor said the supplemental medical facilities will serve a specific purpose.

"There will be patients that no longer require acute care and that [hospital] bed can be freed up for somebody else, and they can convalesce here, they can be monitored here. This is not a walk-up facility. Nobody shows up here and comes in. These are folks that are in acute care in hospitals. The hospital makes the determination they no longer need to be in acute care and they can come here."

Full remarks from Gov. Polis are below.

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From the governor's office:

Gov. Polis Provides Update on Response to COVID-19 at Colorado Convention Center

DENVER - Gov. Polis was joined by public health officials and members of the Army Corps of Engineers today at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver to provide an update on the state’s response to COVID-19, to present and observe the construction being completed at the facility. 

“I come from the private sector, so convention centers were always places where we showcased our business and products and participated in commerce. If Coloradans are staying at home, wearing masks, it’s our hope that the facility will not have to be used or will be less used. The conversion of the Colorado Convention Center is an important step in creating more capacity in our health care system as part of our response to COVID-19,” said Governor Polis. “It will help protect Colorado’s ability to treat the most seriously sick by allowing hospitals to move less serious cases to the convention center and therefore make critical care available for those who need it most.”

Last week the Governor provided an update on the four-tier system that will ensure hospitals can provide the appropriate level of care to patients and handle the coming surge. The Colorado Convention Center will be a Tier 3 facility, meaning it will care for ambulatory sub-acute care patients. 

Work on the site began 48 hours ago, construction is ongoing and the majority of the workers are Coloradans. The Colorado Convention Center will be able to accommodate nearly 2,000 patients. These facilities will have the capability to to treat cases that are recovering from critical care but aren’t able to return home, while hospitals can focus their attention and resources on those who are more critically ill. The facility at the Convention Center is expected to be operational in late April. 

If Coloradans are staying at home, wearing masks, it’s the state’s hope that the facility will not have to be used or will be less used. The Governor noted that the state is establishing a similar alternate care site in Loveland at the Ranch complex. 

The Governor mourned the loss of 21-year-old Cody Lyster, a baseball player at Colorado Mesa University and 13-year-old Charlotte Figi, a brave advocate for medical cannabis who passed away due to complications stemming from an illness that experts say was likely COVID-19. The Governor reminded Coloradans that this virus affects everyone differently and we all need to take it seriously and protect ourselves and others, especially vulnerable folks like 60+ and immuno-compromised. 

The Governor encouraged Coloradans to visit which links to free resources that support Coloradans to stay at home, from wellness, to critical services, to education, to entertainment, and so much more. If Coloradans know of free resources that all Coloradans with an internet connection can access that promote a positive stay-at-home culture and if it fits with our page, the state will add it to the webpage because the webpage gets better the more Coloradans engage with it.

The Governor also pointed out that the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Housing (DOH) awarded more than $1.9 million of emergency assistance to 19 agencies to serve low-income Coloradans in need of emergency rental and mortgage assistance due to economic hardship due to COVID-19.  

Two agencies will provide assistance to eligible Coloradans in all 64 counties: Salvation Army and Colorado Housing Connects. These emergency awards are expected to serve more than 2,200 Coloradans. DOH has also developed an Eviction Resources Map that can be used with 211 to help renters avoid eviction. 

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