Polis On Reopening Colorado: It’s Not A ‘Free For All; Not An Opportunity To Go Out’ And Get Coronavirus

Updated 2:53 p.m.

Gov. Jared Polis reminded Coloradans on Wednesday that just because some businesses will reopen on Monday it does not mean the state will have a grand reopening. 

“Our success as a state in keeping loved ones safe is about personal responsibility and doing what’s best,” Polis said during a news conference from the Governor’s Mansion.

Colorado now has 10,861 known positive cases of COVID-19 with a new high mark in deaths at 506. The statewide stay-at-home will expire on April 26 and in its place is the next step in Colorado’s recovery, which the governor is calling “safer-at-home.”

“I want to reiterate this is not anyway going back to normal,” Polis said. “It’s how we can have a sustainable life in May and beyond.”

Polis hasn’t been shy about reminding Coloradans that social distancing is still important, wearing a mask is critical and to frequently wash our hands. He also pointed out that the month of May would likely look the same as April for seniors and other at-risk groups. 

The virus is still dangerous, he said and the move to safer-for-all is “not any kind of free for all. It's not an opportunity to go out and get the virus and spread the virus for too many people.”

Large gatherings and stadiums full of shoulder to shoulder sports fans won’t happen in May. 

“As much as it pains me, while we hope Major League Baseball has a season this year and they're very thoughtful about how they do this, it's going to be in a different way if they can pull off a season,” Polis said. “A sporting event is a high-risk situation.”

In fact, the “stabilization” step of the three stages the state will pass through on the way to reopening features a ban on large gatherings. From there, the goal post looks toward targeted testing, which is one of the four pillars the state is counting on. In that scenario, and with contact tracing, officials can quarantine specific incidences and outbreaks around the state in order to control the spread.

“Testing and containment become more important,” Polis said. “Testing alone is not enough to re-open the state.”

Polis said 150,000 tests are expected to arrive by the end of the week. Another 150,000 swabs are expected to arrive in mid-May. 

Colorado has partnered with Colorado State University and the Gary Community Foundation, an investment company, to expand and deploy hundreds of thousands of tests. Hundreds of thousands of antibody tests are also expected. CSU will expand testing at skilled nursing facilities that are treating the most vulnerable populations. 

Employers should continue to have no more than 50 percent of their employees working in-person. Polis said telecommuting is still the best option. He encouraged workplaces to have symptom monitoring programs with temperature checks.

He said his office avoided an outbreak by doing this because one person had an elevated temperature but didn’t have any other symptoms. That person eventually tested positive for COVID-19 so they sent him home and isolated all other people who came in contact with the employee. 

“If we don’t succeed in the next phase it will be back to the bunny hill,” Polis said, comparing the progress to skiing in Colorado. “We need to get this right if it’s going to be successful.”