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Polis asks Coloradans to not bring COVID to Thanksgiving table

The governor said in an update Friday that Colorado residents need to keep themselves and their family safe over the Thanksgiving holiday.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) said on Friday that Coloradans should take precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe for Thanksgiving by either celebrating only with their own household or starting to self-quarantine now.

Anyone who plans to celebrate the holiday with parents, grandparents or other family members who live outside their household should self-quarantine for the next two weeks to avoid becoming infected with COVID-19, Polis said at his update Friday on the state's response to the pandemic.

"For families that do want to get together, and the family dynamic requires that, the more family members that make decision to self-quarantine, the more likely you're not bringing a loaded pistol for Grandma's head," he said  

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase across the state and the country, 1-in-105 Coloradans is currently infected with COVID-19, the governor said. On Friday, the state had 6,439 new cases, the highest one-day total since the pandemic began.

There are 1,159 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in Colorado. State officials have repeatedly said that if the upward trend continues, hospitals could run out of ICU bed capacity in December.

RELATED: A look at the strain on some Colorado hospitals caused by the current wave of COVID-19

Ahead of that possibility, Polis said he was issuing an executive order to clarify how hospitals and the state would respond to an overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases that require hospitalization.

The order of operation for surge capacity would be for hospitals to open up unused space and augment their staff, and then to scale back their elective procedures. If the surge continued, the state would support the inter-hospital transfer system.

As a last resort, the state would open alternative care sites for non-ICU patients that have been in a preparation phase for the past few months.

Those sites would be at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo, St. Anthony North Health Campus in Westminster, and the Colorado Convention Center. The convention center site would be the largest, with an eventual capacity of 2,000 beds. It would also the last one of the three to open, Polis said.

"We hope we do not have to use the facilities but are prepared to activate them, and we are a lot closer to that today than we were three weeks ago," he said.

Polis' executive order also requires hospitals to submit plans to the state on how they would handle surge capacity and to report their maximum level of beds available every day.

Other updates from the governor's briefing included:

  • More than 1 million Coloradans have enabled the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications system on their phones.
  • Polis has ordered the State Emergency Operations Center to return to its highest level, Level 1, which it was last at in May.

On Thursday, Colorado officials presented a grim picture of the state's COVID-19 situation at a media briefing.

Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), said cases of COVID-19 have increased at an exponential rate over the last month.

France said he's hopeful that recent mitigation measures, such as limiting gathering sizes and counties moving to more restrictive levels on the state's COVID-19 dial, will be reflected in virus statistics soon. He said the rate of increase in cases and hospitalizations could slow as soon as next week, then move to a plateau.

France reiterated that Coloradans must limit their interactions to people in their own households, maintain 6 feet of distance from others and wear masks.

RELATED: State health officials provide update on COVID-19

As of Thursday, Nov. 12, the seven-day, moving average positivity rate increased to 11.68%, according to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

Positivity is an important indicator of the status of COVID-19 in the state. The World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2020 recommended that the positivity rate be at or below 5% to contain the virus.

RELATED: Here are the Colorado counties that are moving to tighter COVID-19 restrictions

RELATED: These school districts have shifted to remote learning

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