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Polis says state gathering data on minority rate infection rates, announces JBS closure in Monday news conference

Gov. Jared Polis also announced a mask contest and addressed questions on hospital bed capacity.

DENVER — The closure of the JBS meat processing plant, minority infection rate data and a mask art contest were among the items Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) discussed during a news conference Monday focused on the state’s response to COVID-19.  

The governor also announced the state's death toll had surpassed 300 as of midday Monday.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), announced Sunday there were 410 new COVID-19 cases, raising the state's total to 7,303.

JBS meat processing plant

Polis said the JBS meat processing plant in Greeley is now closed until at least April 24. 

The plant has had an outbreak of coronavirus cases, and at least two employees at the plant have died.

Polis said all employees at the plant will be tested for COVID-19, and that the plant will undergo a thorough cleaning before it can be reopened.

Polis said he has spoken with Vice President Mike Pence three times recently about the plant and how they will go about handling testing. The governor said Colorado National Guard members will be handling logistics on how to test the plant workers.

The governor added later, there is no direct evidence that consumers are at-risk of contracting COVID-19 from meat that may have been handled by infected workers. Polis also said he's not worried that food supply lines will be affected by the plant's closure.

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Hospital bed capacity

The governor said hospital bed capacity is "fine". He said people who may be suffering medical episodes, like heart attacks or strokes, who need emergency services, should not be afraid to call or go to a hospital just because COVID-19 patients are being treated there.

Minority infection rates

Polis said the state is now collecting data on the ethnicity of patients and that data will be released soon.

Coronavirus hospitalization numbers

The governor said the state is starting to get numbers on how many people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and then recovered enough to be discharged.

Mask art contest

On a lighter note in Monday's news conference, the governor asked children to decorate face masks and enter into a contest. The winning submissions will be mass-produced and donated to facilities around Colorado.

For instructions and to enter the contest, go to coloradomaskcontest.org.

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 

Health officials announced Colorado's first presumed positive case on Thursday, March 5.  

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.  

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