Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update: This Is How You Need to Live for Months, Polis Says

Governor Jared Polis celebrating Colorado Day in a video promoting History Colorado.
Governor Jared Polis celebrating Colorado Day in a video promoting History Colorado. YouTube
During an August 4 press conference about the continuing fight against COVID-19, Governor Jared Polis said that improving statistics demonstrate that most Coloradans are currently making good decisions related to activities during the pandemic — and that must continue for the foreseeable future.

"We simply have to look at the last week or two as the model for how we live our lives for the next few months," he said. "But just because we're plateauing doesn't mean we're not in a very precarious position. It's like a boulder sitting on top of a hill: One wrong move and we can go into a rockslide."

Right now, Polis noted, infection transmission rates in the state are close to a value of one — meaning that each person with the disease is passing it to just one other individual rather than more than that. The result has been better data than was being seen in late June and early July — 426 newly diagnosed cases and 202 hospitalizations today, he reported. Moreover, infection rates among people in their twenties and thirties are dipping, which Polis suggested is partially attributable to his decision to institute a temporary 10 p.m. last call on alcohol service at restaurants and bars.

At the same time, though, deaths from COVID-19 now stand at 1,710, out of 1,849 fatalities of people who had the virus in their system. He encouraged Coloradans to keep these losses in mind as a way of steadying their resolve during the period in which they're waiting for either a vaccine or a cure to allow a return to life as they knew it at the start of this year.

Polis treated the announcement that the Colorado High School Activities Association, or CHSAA, is going forward with plans for sports seasons — albeit with some activities, such as football, moving games and championships from the fall to the spring — as a reward of sorts for the state's progress. He pledged that he would be at the first contest since competitions were halted on March 12 to celebrate this benchmark — though he acknowledged that the question of average fan attendance is still to be determined in most cases.

Large group activities are still verboten under the latest public health order, and Polis stressed that the Colorado Attorney General's Office, which recently issued a cease-and-desist order to the promoter of a rodeo and concert in Weld County, will be acting aggressively to prevent more risky productions in the future. Given that, potential ticket buyers should be aware that such gatherings are likely to be canceled, he warned: "We don't want Coloradans scammed out of their money when these events are shut down."

After touting a planned town hall to be aired this evening on Univision and conducted in Spanish, and cheering the extension of Colorado National Guard funding until December (Polis thanked President Donald Trump for that), the governor invited questions.

Asked for a reaction to the release of video showing a black family that was pulled over and made to lie in a parking lot by Aurora police officers as a result of a mistaken identification, Polis expressed shock and encouraged just-named Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson to work toward transparency in this and other matters as a way of rebuilding trust in the community. He also predicted that participation in high school sports was likely to be down this year as a result of some students and parents choosing to bow out for safety reasons, which he said he understood. He also encouraged families that don't want to send their kids back to schools for in-person learning just yet to investigate the wide variety of online options available as a result of Colorado's open-enrollment policies.

As for the kids who'll be back in classrooms, Polis acknowledged that some infections at schools are inevitable, but stressed that "we have strong public-health guidance about what to do when there's an outbreak."
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts