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Polis announces new reward program for businesses implementing work-from-home

Gov. Polis also stressed the importance of continuing to wear masks to avoid a second wave of COVID-19.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis gave an update on Colorado's response to the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday afternoon.

Polis stressed the need to continue wearing masks to avoid a second spike of COVID-19 cases.

Polis commended businesses and local governments that are effectively participating in telecommuting and announced a new "Can Do Colorado Community Challenge" to reward businesses and local governments maximizing remote work capabilities and limiting in-person interactions.

When asked why he thinks Colorado seems to be faring better than other states that are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, Polis said Colorado's plan is to reopen as safely as possible to reduce the risk of future spikes.

"I worry about Arizona and Utah, I worry about Coloradans not wearing masks and not social distancing, and I worry about large crowds gathered in the streets," Polis said. "So those are the four things that I'm worried about."

Polis also cited a study that found social distancing alone doesn't dramatically impact COVID-19 cases, but its effectiveness improves dramatically when combined with mask wearing.

Polis said that recent data showing Coloradans are traveling further from home is not necessarily bad, considering that many are going to large open parts of the state where social distancing is easier. 

When asked about an executive order suspending evictions that is set to expire next week, Polis said his office is working with the general assembly on a $10 to $20 million rental assistance package meant to keep landlords whole while keeping tenants in their residence.

Polis said he wore a Census 2020 mask on Thursday as a reminder that it is still going on, and encouraged residents to participate. He warned that Census workers will not ask for personal bank or other similar information, and said that any suspected scammers should be reported to authorities.

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RELATED: Hospitalization data trends, senior facility visits among Polis' Tuesday COVID updates

Polis said during a Tuesday press conference that the state has seen a downward trend in hospitalizations 11 of the previous 14 days, good news in the state's continued efforts to slow the COVID-19 pandemic

Polis said a cross-agency team is working on a process where people can visit loved ones at senior care facilities by getting tested, and then being allowed a window to visit if the tests come back negative.

Polis also addressed the work being done in the Legislature, saying lawmakers are working to pass the state budget by the end of June to ensure funding by the July 1 deadline. He also said while budget cuts are difficult, "we're looking forward to restoring those cuts" when the novel coronavirus is fully managed.

Colorado lawmakers have a $3.3 billion shortfall for the budget year that begins in July. That means the state legislature will have to figure out how to pay for state programs and services with 25% fewer dollars than this current year's budget that ends in June.

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