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Colorado moving to 'safer-at-home' status; here's what we know so far

Gov. Polis said many retail stores will open on May 1.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) announced Monday afternoon that the state will transfer to a safer-at-home model with a path forward that maintains 60% to 65% social distancing on April 27 after the stay-at-home order expires.

Polis outlined the businesses that will be allowed to reopen — all with strict precautions in place — under the safer-at-home period.

Polis said many retail stores will open on May 1, and will look like critical retailers today, with spacing that adheres to the 6-foot rule, one-way aisles, decals on the floor and employees wearing face masks.

Under the safer-at-home model, the general public is:

  • Encouraged to stay at home unless necessary.
  • Strongly advised to wear face coverings when out.
  • No gatherings over 10 people.
  • Sick people may not go to work.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel.

Vulnerable populations, including seniors and people with underlying health conditions, should continue to stay at home and avoid going out in public, Polis said.

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Below are the businesses that will be allowed to open and their precautions after the expiration of the stay-at-home order:

Non-critical offices

50% open with strict precautions on May 4.

Large workplaces advised to have symptom/temperature checks.

Telecommuting maximized.

Restaurants/bars/event venues

Takeout/delivery only.

Exploring phased-in reduced capacity opening.

Childcare

Open, with strict precautions.

Educational institutions (colleges/K-12)

Closed.

Personal services (hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, dog grooming, personal trainers, etc.)

Open, with strict precautions.

Elective medical procedures 

Open, with strict precautions including PPE and ability to meet critical care needs.

Real estate

Showings allowed, with strict precautions and social distancing.

Open houses not allowed.

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Polis said the data is showing that the stay-at-home order has been effective in combating the spread of COVID-19, with the daily hospitalization rate leveling off and even a slight downward trend in the growth curve.

"It's a testimony to your work," Polis said, addressing the Colorado public at large.

Models show path forward for Colorado

Also during the news conference, Colorado State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy outlined the model the state is using to determine how the state will move forward.

A variety of stipulations outlined in six different scenarios shows that a combination of social distancing among the general public with higher levels for seniors and vulnerable populations along with face coverings, case detection, isolation and containment is best to ensure that hospitals don't reach capacity.

Herlihy also said while the state is reporting just over 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of April 20, the number is likely closer to 65,000 to 75,000 Coloradans, or about 1.1% to 1.3% of the state's population.

Polis said under the stay-at-home order, the state has reached about 75% to 80% social distancing.

"We want to make sure it's sustainable," Polis said. "The stay-at-home order is the most difficult step. It is succeeding. But as it rolls off April 27, we need to figure out how we can run the marathon, now that we've run the sprint."

Polis reiterated that the success of the safer-at-home model will be indicated by individual responsibility and choices. 

"That's how we're going to do this," he said. "We're going to do this together."

Polis also said the state may make adjustments based on what the data shows.

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Eagle County submits reopening application

Polis also said at the news conference that he expects to approve Eagle County's earlier request for authority to reopen parts of its economy ahead of the statewide stay-at-home order that runs through April 26.

Those exemptions, if granted, would allow the county to start implementing its own plans to slowly and incrementally reopen portions of the community.

Many of the requests in a county news release sent April 18 are similar to what Polis outlined, including:

  • Increasing the size of permissible gatherings from zero to 10.
  • Permitting conditional opening of noncritical, nonessential, nongovernmental businesses that meet social distancing requirements.
  • Opening recreational facilities where adequate controls can be implemented to ensure social distancing.

Eagle County was one of the first hard-hit counties in the state to be affected by COVID-19 and one of the first to implement public health orders. The latest data shows it has 486 cases and seven deaths.

Polis said he will visit Eagle County on Thursday or Friday and hopes to grant the application.

COVID-19 background information

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan, China in late 2019. This new strain of coronavirus began popping up in the United States in January 

On March 5, the first case was announced in Colorado. Since then, 10,106 people have tested positive for the disease and 449 people have died.

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