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Polis: 'Ball is in our court' as COVID-19 cases level off

Gov. Polis encouraged everyone to keep their guard up even though recent data has been promising.

COLORADO, USA — While recent data from the state related to COVID-19 has been promising with cases at a "high plateau" in recent days, Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) said Friday we can not let up on our current health orders and social distancing actions because of how widespread the virus is among communities.

"The normal way we socialize would lead to tragic levels of loss of life, double, triple, quadruple what is already enough to mourn, so many Coloradans, just over 3,000, have paid the ultimate price," Polis said. 

Hopefully the leveling off will change to a significant reduction, but that ball is in our hands and in your hands."

He urged people not to travel for upcoming holidays and if they do plan to gather asked people to quarantine for 10 days prior to avoid contracting the virus and potentially spreading at those gatherings.

Polis spoke Friday morning as the state awaits the arrival of the first doses of the vaccine, which could come in a matter of days. 

On Thursday, a U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, and now it's up to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant emergency use of the vaccine. That could happen as early as Friday, with the first shots administered early next week.

Federal officials plan to allocate the first 6.4 million doses of the vaccine to states based on their population, and Colorado's share is 46,800. Earlier this week, the state outlined how those first doses will be distributed.

RELATED: Colorado rolls out COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

Healthcare workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients, such as those working in the ICU, will be up first as part of Phase One. The general public will have access in Phase Three, which is expected to begin sometime next summer, according to state officials. 

Polis cautioned Friday that people won't be immune as soon as they get the first shot of the vaccine. Both the Pfizer and a second vaccine from Moderna require two doses several weeks apart, and Polis said Friday that immunity wouldn't kick in until about 10 days after receiving that second dose.

RELATED: COVID-19 numbers remain high, but health leaders 'cautiously optimistic'

There are 1,545 patients currently hospitalized in Colorado as of Dec. 10, and the seven-day, moving average positivity rate fell to 11.23%, according to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have also dropped recently and Polis said Friday the state is not in danger of exceeding hospital capacity at this time, but remain ready to activate its three alternate care facilities.

Polis also said Friday that he's confident schools can reopen safely come January, even with cases of the virus so high.

"They now have the tools they need to be able to return safely to the classroom instruction, protecting the cohorts and keeping folks safe based on science and CDC which shares our state's priority on returning school," Polis said.

He's set to meet Friday with members of the newly formed education task force.

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