DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in a Monday news conference on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic stressed the importance of wearing masks and shared the next steps in Colorado's safer-at-home period.
"We continue with good news, which is only as good as people’s behavior," Polis said about the downward trend of COVID-19 cases on 12 of the last 14 days in Colorado.
He added that we’re just a few steps ahead of this virus and we’ll only continue to move the right way if Coloradans continue to use precautions.
Polis announced a new round of safer-at-home guidelines. The new guidelines are currently drafts open for comment through Wednesday and will likely go into effect by end of the week.
- Personal services such as facials and shaves allowed to resume.
- Residential (sleep-away) camps allowed to resume with lower capacity.
- Indoor events can begin to open at lower capacity including indoor markets, theaters and trade shows.
- Outdoor events can begin to reopen at lower capacity, including fairs and concerts.
- Bars can open with up to 25 percent capacity or 50 people, with more options with outdoor seating.
The governor said there's a risk in all activities and some may choose to not attend for safety reasons. For those that choose to attend, Polis added the need to make these activities as safe as possible for everyone.
Polis also announced a long-term sustainable framework called "Protect Our Neighbors" that some communities in Colorado can enter as long as they qualify.
Polis said, as part of that framework, areas that have strong public health and health care systems can move toward the "Protect Our Neighbors" phase as long as the virus is well contained and there are plans for outbreak response.
The phase, which is also currently a draft, allows for expanded reopening of 50 percent capacity up to 500 people and possibly more in a setting. Polis gave county fairs as an example and said there might be some this year.
While large gathers are OK under this phase, Polis said mass gatherings are prohibited until there is a treatment or cure.
"As we look toward the fall, things are going to get more challenging," Polis said, adding he is concerned of COVID-19 running into flu season which already fills up beds. "It's all about hospital beds," he said.
On Saturday, the governor signed two executive orders meant to help people who are struggling to pay their rent. The orders came as a statewide moratorium on evictions expired, prompting fears of evictions of people who have lost their jobs amid the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.
One order suspends a state law requiring landlords to provide their tenants 10 days' notice of default for nonpayment of rent and instead calls for landlords to provide 30 days' notice of any default for nonpayment before taking action.
The other order allows the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to continue to provide rental and mortgage assistance to low- and moderate-income households and encourages local governments to loosen housing restrictions.
The orders come as Colorado continues to struggle with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In press conferences last week, Polis said the state has seen a downward trend in hospitalizations as a result of COVID-19 infections but stressed the need for Coloradans to continue wearing face coverings to avoid a new spike in cases.
In recent days, the governor also has received bills from the state legislature intended to deter excessive uses of force by police, and taking away "panic" as a defense against assaulting a gay or transgender person.
Monday is scheduled to be the state legislature's last day of the session.
Last week, Polis said 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 made necessary by the pandemic are difficult, "...we're looking forward to restoring those cuts" when the novel coronavirus is fully managed.
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 percent fewer dollars than this current year's budget that ends in June.
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