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Governor issues executive order requiring essential workers to wear face masks

9NEWS will air his remarks live on TV, the video player attached to this article, on our app and via YouTube.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis has issued an executive order requiring essential workers at places like grocery stores to wear face masks while interacting with the public.

These can be either medical masks or ones made out of cloth — something he has already recommended all Coloradans wear when outside their homes. 

He announced this requirement during a news conference on Friday afternoon, where he also detailed the efforts the state is taking to protect seniors who are at nursing homes. 

There have been dozens of outbreaks at these facilities in Colorado. 

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“Today we’re updating the public health order to require long-term care facilities to develop a detailed isolation plan and submit it to the Colorado Department of Health by May 1," Polis said. 

Polis said the Colorado National Guard will also be conducting testing at three of the largest nursing homes in Colorado. 

During his news conference, Polis showed a video of a temperature check at a nursing home -- something he said he envisioned becoming common practice. 

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The governor also said that he is creating a task force to address economic inequities with respect to the coronavirus. That will be headed up by Web Brown with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). 

“It’s really important that we address all the inequities in this COVID-19 crisis because we’re all Coloradans, we’re all humans," Polis said. 

Notably, the governor said he will discuss the state's plans for a form of reopening on Monday. Earlier, the governor said allowing businesses to reopen will be more like a dimmer than turning on a light switch. 

This is dependent on testing, which the CDPHE said earlier this week the state does not have the capacity for. 

"We're moving forward, that doesn't mean everything happens at once," Polis said. 

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He said large gatherings will likely not be able to occur until there is a vaccine, effective treatment or enough herd immunity to effectively quell the spread of the virus. 

But, Polis also said he knows stay-at-home orders can't exist indefinitely, and that he hopes to create an environment where businesses can reopen but people can still keep their distance while health officials battle coronavirus "hot spots" in certain communities. 

“After this is over, I hope we never have to hear the term 'social distancing' for the rest of my life," Polis said. “We’ll get through this. All the restrictions will go away, we’ll cheer on the Rockies, we’ll cheer on the Broncos …”

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He compared COVID-19 to the 1918 flu pandemic, and said a lesson learned 100 years ago was the dangers of reopening too soon and causing a second wave of a pandemic. 

"We're all in this together, we're all in this together as Coloradans, we're all in this together as Americans, and we're all in this together as humans," Polis said. 

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