Gov. Jared Polis urged Coloradans to “please don’t be stupid” at a news conference Wednesday.
“Engage in social distancing,” Polis said. “What you're doing is you're jeopardizing the lives of your friends and their families and their relatives. So be smart here."
Polis also nodded at the possibility of longer closures for K-12 schools, many of which are currently on extended springs breaks. He suggested schools could be closed through the scheduled end of the school year. No final decision has been made, and no order issued, but such an extended statewide shutdown would be unprecedented in the state.
“We want to set expectations again with the schools. There will be additional actions in that area,” Polis said. “And while it's possible that school might return this year, it's increasingly unlikely.”
Polis expressed frustration with reports that some Coloradans are ignoring the “social distancing” guidelines which recommend that people remain six feet apart in social settings to prevent spread of the virus. He urged people to find other ways to connect.
“Again, socialize but socialize virtually on FaceTime," he said. "Call your friends on conference calls. Use the online applications that allow for groups of people to talk. Don't, don't be dumb here and think you're getting away with something just because the cops aren't able to shut you down.”
About the same time Polis was speaking, Boulder County health officials provided evidence of the need for social distancing, releasing details of a University of Colorado student who tested positive for COVID-19 after attending several St. Patrick’s Day parties in the town. Photos posted online showed students pressed in closely at events, ignoring the widely disseminated guidelines to avoid crowds and maintain distance.
“Our staff just knows they went to the parties this weekend,” Boulder County Health Department spokesperson Chana Gousettis told the Daily Camera. It’s Boulder’s 12th case. The state now has 216 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 through 5 p.m. on March 18.
Polis announced the creation of a community fund to benefit those whose lives have been disrupted by COVID-19 and the government’s response to it. Polis has ordered all bars, restaurants, casinos and gyms closed in the state, putting thousands of people out of work. Restaurants would still be able to offer takeout and delivery, but the economic effects will likely be severe.
The fund, which stood at $2.8 million after just two days of fundraising, will pay for cleaning supplies and medical supplies, and also help those impacted.
“We also plan through the impact fund to help impacted small businesses and of course the hourly and part-time workers and full-time workers that are temporarily losing their opportunity to support their families,” Polis said.
Details of the fund, and how to contribute money or time in the community can be found at www.helpcoloradonow.org
The state along with philanthropic groups like Gary Community Investments are also working to arrange child care for first responders and healthcare workers. Details on that can be found at covidchildcarecolorado.com.