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'I'm calling on Coloradans to not be stupid:' Polis outlines state's coronavirus trends

The governor said Colorado is seeing a slight increase in hospitalizations and positivity, and called for the state to channel its stress into something good.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) likened attending large gatherings to drunk driving during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, during which he presented data that shows the state teetering on the edge of potentially concerning trends in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is more like drunk driving than it is juggling knives in the privacy of your own home,” Polis said of a large gathering that happened in Weld County over the weekend. “When you’re drunk driving, you’re putting yourself at risk, but you’re also putting others at risk.”

Colorado’s hospitalization numbers have stayed in the mid 200s in recent days – well below the state’s capacity but above the data from early June.

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The percentage of positive tests, which experts say illustrates the virus’ activity in the state, has remained below the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 5% threshold.

“Attending large gatherings doesn’t just put yourself at risk, it puts your job, your family, your loved ones at risk,” Polis said. “I’m calling on Coloradans to not be stupid. We’re at a point where 1/500 Coloradans are contagious with coronavirus.”

Polis emphasized the need to control the novel coronavirus at a regional level, and said 15 counties are currently at risk of losing their variances due to an uptick in cases.

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“No one wants a setback in our state from a health perspective, and we know what a setback means from an economic perspective,” Polis said. “A health setback is an economic setback, so we act to save lives, we work to ensure a robust economic recovery.”

Specifically, he mentioned Weld County, where the sheriff has said enforcing the state’s orders regarding social distancing and mask wearing is not possible.

“You don’t get to choose which laws you follow and which laws you don’t follow,” Polis said, later adding, “Weld County incorrectly believes that we don’t have authority to do anything we do.”

During a news conference last week, Polis said the state was bolstering its capacity to process tests and prevent eight- to nine-day turnaround times. While he said the goal is 24 hours, in many cases, the wait is now down to three days.

The governor, who said he is working to not “lash out” at the federal government for its pandemic response, wrote a letter to Colorado’s congressional delegation in support of additional aid for local governments, which are bearing much of the financial burden of responding to COVID-19.

He also asked for some form of extension to the extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits workers are getting amid the pandemic. That is slated to expire this week.

“I’m confident that the federal government will step up to the challenges that the times demand,” Polis said.

The governor has held two news conferences per week in recent days due to increased virus activity in Colorado. These have included announcements about the closure of bars, a new 10 p.m. last call for alcohol and a statewide mask mandate – something Polis has previously said he was not in favor of enacting.

He used his platform on Tuesday to once again call for Coloradans to continue to exercise caution to avoid further restrictions or overloads to healthcare systems like those that have occurred in places like Texas or Florida.

“We need to work together to channel our stress into positive action,” Polis said.

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