CDPHE: Gov. Polis Looking At Strategies To Reopen State

The countdown is on.

The stay-at-home order from Colorado Governor Jared Polis runs through Sunday, April 26.

What exactly life looks like after he lifts that order, whenever that day comes, is unknown.

"We'll have the details on that before the 26th," Gov. Polis said Monday. "We're not talking about 10 p.m. on the 25th. We're talking about a few days before the 26th. When we have that it will be presented and folks will know exactly what's going and what's not going [on]."

Tuesday, Scott Bookman, Incident Commander for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said the governor is looking at numerous strategies.

"We have our Innovation Response Team, we have our public health experts, the governor's policy advisors and then we're looking at best practices across the country and really looking at the best way to reopen Colorado and, of course, that will also involve conversations with our surrounding states," Bookman said.

While public health officials say COVID-19 cases in Colorado are leveling off, they are concerned about a spike when the stay-at-home order is lifted.

"We know we need to implement a variety of strategies to control transmission in the state," state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said. "It is quite possible that with those strategies in place but not a stay-at-home order that we could see an increase in transmission again in the future."

Dr. Herlihy said being prepared is part of the approach.

"We are preparing our healthcare system for a greater number of cases. That could be sometime in May or even perhaps later depending on what we achieve with social distancing over the next couple of weeks and the other strategies we're using such as aggressive disease control, isolation/quarantine, mass testing, all of those things we need to get in place while we we're simultaneously increasing our healthcare capacity."

She said in the next few days, the state should begin to get meaningful data about the impact of the stay-at-home order to this point. That data will drive policy.

"We are working closely with the modeling team at the [CU] School of Public Health to measure how much that stay-at-home order has achieved," Dr. Herlihy said. "We expect to have those estimates in the next couple of days and that work is going to guide future strategies."

Contact tracing of COVID-19 patients will likely be part of the state strategy. Dr. Herlihy says they are trying to determine how technology could in that process.

"We want to try to implement some automated technology to support contact tracing. We are trying to identify strategies that could allow us to collect data electronically from individuals instead of having to do manual interviews of all of those individuals. I think there's a balance in using technology to support this work. Obviously, protecting individual privacy is a priority of ours."

As of now, using one of the most common pieces of technology is not going to happen.

"At this point, we haven't been pursuing using cell phone tracking data to support contact tracing activity," Dr. Herlihy said.

In the half-hour teleconference, Dr. Herlihy and Bookman also talked about when the COVID-19 peak could come in Colorado, the temporary hospital build-outs at the Colorado Convention Center and The Ranch in Loveland, COVID-19 statistics for minority communities, the situation at the JBS meat plant in Greeley and more.

The full teleconference and an order of topics/questions are below.

4-14-20 Dr. Rachel Herlihy and Scott Bookman CDPHE Teleconference

CDPHE Teleconference

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiololgist

Scott Bookman, Incident Commander


--Vinny, Bloomberg – Haw many workers and family members at JBS plant have sought medical care and are workers at other packing plant and feedlots being tested? Dr. Herlihy

--Ben, CBS4 – Why aren’t grocery store workers wearing masks? Dr. Herlihy

--Eric, KUNC – Should JBS workers be tested before returning to work? Dr. Herlihy

--Lily, KUNC – When does state project the peak number of cases? Dr. Herlihy

--Forest, Col. Ind – Is state looking at buying machines to sanitize N95 masks? Scott

--Sam, Den. Post – Updates on the possible peak in the state…still May or later? Dr. Herlihy

--Kevin, 9News – How many people at CDPHE exposed to virus? Scott

--John, Col. Sun – What about hospital discharge numbers? Scott

--Ryan, 9News – Will state use widespread contact tracing? Dr. Herlihy

--Sam, Den. Post – Are promising vaccines being researched in Colorado? Scott

--Taylo, NBC News Radio – Is Colorado talking with nearby states about strategy to reopen? Scott

--Lily, KUNC – How many patients have been released from the hospital after recovering? Scott

--Steve, 9News – Will state scale back on temp. hosp. at Conv. Center and in Loveland? Scott

--John, Col. Sun – Do you have preliminary all-cause death data for 2020? Dr. Herlihy

--Blair, Denver 7 – What does the data show about the effect of the stay-at-home order? Dr. Herlihy

--Erin, KUNC – How often will hospitals release race data? Dr. Herlihy

--Lily, KUNC – How many docs/nurses are trained to operate ventilators? Scott

--Sam, CPR News – How implement COVID-19 surveillance system? Dr. Herlihy

--Ellis, Col. Comm. Media – Do you have race data from certain counties? Dr. Herlihy

--Ellis, Col. Comm. Media – Will you require race data from hospitals? Dr. Herlihy

--Fox 31 – Is the Convention Center hospital still needed? Scott

--Erin, KUNC – Why the spike in cases in Morgan County? Dr. Herlihy

--Ellis, Col. Comm. Media – How will the state address the disparity of cases by race? Scott

--Marianne, Col. Politics – What do with cases at non-hospital healthcare facilities such as nursing homes? Scott

--Ellis, Col. Comm. Media – What do to prevent spike in nursing homes? Dr. Herlihy

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