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'The complacency needs to end': Polis asks Coloradans to keep their guard up in fight against COVID-19

The governor said he wants Colorado to remain a "positive outlier" as other nearby states experience COVID-19 surges.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) used one of his now-twice weekly briefings Tuesday afternoon to implore Coloradans to continue to avoid social interactions and to wear masks in an effort to avoid a COVID-19 surge similar to what’s happening in neighboring states.

“What we’re doing is close but isn’t quite working, and we need to do better, and that means reducing our social interactions,” Polis said. “If we do these things successfully, we will defeat the virus in Colorado, but we are continually coming up a bit short.”

He pointed to a rise in hospitalizations in recent weeks. During one of last week’s news conferences, Polis said the state had 181 COVID-19 hospitalizations. That number rose to 254 as of his briefing on Tuesday, though there remain hundreds of unused ICU beds in the state.

Despite continuing to emphasize the importance of wearing masks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Polis said he is not enacting a state order, saying it would be difficult to enforce. This has meant that the responsibility to enact mask mandates has fallen on local governments.

Polis said he would be more likely to issue a statewide mask order if the data indicated it would be effective.

“I struggle with that," he said. "It certainly would help sway me toward particular policies if there was strong evidence it increased mask-wearing compliance."

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Polis also said he would not enact a statewide order barring visitors or quarantining people entering Colorado from out-of-state – something neighboring New Mexico has done.

The governor said between 75,000 and 100,000 people from COVID-19 hotspots Texas, California and Arizona likely visited Colorado in recent weeks.

“It’s a free country and people can drive here, and people quite frankly don’t know who they are or where they are,” Polis said.

Polis implored local businesses to treat every customer as potentially COVID-19 positive, and for everyone in Colorado to live like they were in May and early June – when hospitalizations and cases were decreasing.

“Some people have become complacent,” Polis said. “That complacency needs to end. The key to greater social and economic recovery is doing the little things right.”

The governor said at this point, he's not considering imposing additional restrictions or closing businesses once again, but that it could happen if cases grow exponentially. 

“I want Colorado to continue to be a positive outlier,” the governor went on to say.

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