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Colorado governor discusses COVID-19 tests, if ski areas will reopen this season

Gov. Polis provided an update on the state's COVID-19 response ahead of the weekend.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) held a news conference Friday to discuss the newest phase in the state’s “safer-at-home” order, which allows non-essential businesses to reopen albeit with stricter social distancing requirements.

“The new safer-at-home phase is really about dealing with life in a sustainable way,” Polis said.

The news conference did not have an underlying theme. Instead, the governor touched on everything from evictions to whether ski resorts will be allowed to reopen this season.

This comes after Polis issued multiple late-night executive orders that did everything from further close ski areas to slashing $228.7 million from the state’s budget.

Here are some of the topics Polis touched on.

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Mental Health 

Polis acknowledged some of the mental health concerns that have accompanied Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and flagged a free resource available to Coloradans. People in crisis can call 844-493-TALK.

“This is a time not for fear, not for anxiety, but for justified caution,” the governor said.

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Evictions 

One of Polis’ executive orders placed a moratorium on evictions in Colorado, which is currently experiencing record numbers of unemployment claims.

Polis said to his knowledge there were no new evictions during the month of April related to COVID-19, but some tenants may have received notices for not paying their rent during the months before the pandemic.

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COVID-19 tests

During an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Polis said his office hid the purchase of 100,000 COVID-19 tests in fear they would be scooped up by the federal government.

“We don’t tell anybody until they’re here, on the ground, in Colorado,” Polis said Friday. “We don’t believe the feds would take any seizure or action while they’re here.”

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Ski areas and travel to the mountains 

Under the safer-at-home order, Coloradans are barred from driving more than 10 miles away from where they live for recreation. While he acknowledged that going outdoors is safe, Polis said this was mainly to protect the mountain communities – places where visitors would likely stop for things like gas and food.

“When they’re ready, of course, our Front Range residents will return,” he said.

Polis said he’s been in contact with ski areas about what it would take to reopen. He said this would require cleaning and social distancing, and while it could happen by Memorial Day, only a few resorts have enough snow for that to be possible.

He said his team will be analyzing data about new COVID-19 infections while the safer-at-home order is in place.

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The state budget 

The governor said at this point, the state of Colorado has avoided furloughing or laying off any employees.

He said efforts are underway to continue to balance the budget.

“This would obviously be a bad time to raise taxes in a recession,” Polis said.

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