Gov. Polis extends stay-at-home order to late April
DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Monday extended his statewide stay-at-home order until April 26 to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In a speech that was televised statewide, Polis said the spread of the disease had slowed, but he called on residents to continue to keep social distance and to wear protective face masks when they run essential errands during his order.
“If there’s any way to safely end it sooner, I will,” he said. “And likewise, if Coloradans aren’t staying at home, and the numbers of dead and dying continue to pile up, it could go longer.”
The initial stay-at-home order was set to expire April 11.
Polis said that at the beginning of the crisis, the number of cases in Colorado was doubling every one and a half days but now is doubling every six or seven days.
“We’re fighting an invisible enemy, a virus that is both deadly and extremely contagious,” said Polis, who warned that the state’s health care system won’t have the capacity to treat some patients if too many people get sick at the same time.
Colorado’s coronavirus death toll has reached at least 150, with 5,172 recorded cases and 994 people hospitalized, although health officials estimate that between 17,000 and 18,000 people have contracted the virus.
“We are still at the beginning of the epidemic,” Dr. Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, said during a virtual news conference Monday.
She and other officials declined to predict a peak in cases, saying it could come mid-May or any time during the summer.
Meanwhile, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy estimated Colorado has achieved a 45% social distancing compliance rate following the March 26 statewide stay-at-home order. The estimate is based on real-time data that includes information gleaned from traffic patterns and cellphone locations. The full effect of the order can’t yet be gauged, but she estimated 1,200 cases have been prevented.
At 60% social distancing, the need for intensive care unit beds will surpass what’s available in mid-May, she said, but enough ICU beds will be available if Colorado achieves a social distancing rate of 70% to 80%.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause pneumonia.
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The pandemic is wearing on a lot of people, especially frontline health care workers like Whittany Keating, a registered nurse at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs.