DENVER — Public-private partnerships are being utilized to get ahead of COVID-19 in Colorado.
Three weeks ago, Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) created the Innovation Response Team, made up of public employees and private businesses to meet three objectives:
- Develop statewide system for mass testing and rapid results
- Develop tech to track spread the virus' spread
- Create a suite of services for citizens under quarantine or isolation
"We went from like 0 to 200 over the course of two weeks, on both the public and private sides," said Innovation Response Team Chief of Staff Kacey Wulff. "We haven’t done a Zoom meeting with all 200. We call it our “whole darn team” meeting, where we have a Zoom with about 25 people on it a few times a week."
As of 4 p.m. on Friday, the state announced it has tested 32,653 people through April 9.
Testing is a metric for objective number one, and a necessity to meet objective number two.
"We've had dramatic improvements in our lab capabilities throughout the state. That's partially because our state labs have massively scaled their ability to run tests," said Wulff. "You need a few things to be able to scale up mass testing. You need a site where you can conduct the test. You need a health care worker who is adequately protected to conduct the test. You then need the stuff to do the test, you need the swab to take the samples, the vial transports to be able to take it to the lab. And then you need the lab, with the tests to be able to run it with the re-agents."
What's not clear is where the state stands in all those areas.
"What we've been doing is staying in regular contact with biotech companies that those labs work with and making sure that they know from the governor on down, that it's a priority to be filling Colorado's orders."
The state revealed today that the Colorado Unified Command Group has issued purchase orders for more than $46.2 million in medical supplies.
This is the supplies that have already been distributed:
- N95 masks: 460,740
- Surgical masks: 472,000
- Face shields: 61,344
- Surgical gowns: 94,080
- Gloves: 844,500
- Coveralls: 3,816
The third objective, getting those staying at home what they need, is being met through more public-private partnerships.
The state has a "stay-at-home" website with resources that continuously get updated.
"The most important gap that we're working on is making sure people know what's exactly available to them," said Wulff.
Among the conversations being discussed by the Innovation Response Team is what will be needed in the "new normal."
"A lot of people talk about getting to a place we can sort of 'dance' with the infection rate. We want to be able to, if you see a rise in one community, respond appropriately before it expands to others," said Wulff. "So, if we reopen schools, what kind of policies does that mean? What kind of family engagement does that mean? What kind of things do we need in place? Do we need every kid to be washing their hands several times a day? Do we need face shields for everyone?"
Schools along the Front Range are not coming back for in-person learning this year, so the Innovation Response Team has some time to come up with new guidelines for school districts to consider in August.
Even though the governor has provided three main objectives for the Innovation Response Team, the overall guiding principles are health and economics.
"Give the governor and our leaders in our public health agency in our public safety agency the tools they need to make the right decisions that promote public health while minimizing economic disruption," said Wulff.
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