Governor Jared Polis has declared a state of emergency in Colorado to address the spread of coronavirus.
"We fully anticipate that in the coming days, especially as we work hard to increase our testing capacity, that there will be more confirmed cases," Polis said during a morning press conference today, March 10. "The actions that we take in the next few days and weeks will really determine the trajectory of coronavirus in Colorado."
Colorado, which now has fifteen confirmed cases, is the ninth state to declare a state of emergency over the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. Globally, there have been about 110,000 confirmed cases and 3,800 deaths from the virus, which was discovered in China at the end of 2019.
Currently, the state has about 900 testing kits, according to the governor, who mentioned that he spoke one-on-one for twenty minutes last night with Vice President Mike Pence.
Based on that conversation, the Trump administration has committed to sending 1,500 additional test kits to Colorado this week, Polis said.
Polis also ordered the state's Department of Labor and Unemployment to create emergency rules for people who work in fields that involve things like food handling, child care and health care to have access to paid sick leave if they need to be tested for the coronavirus. Additionally, the governor said that his administration is looking at "additional measures around unemployment insurance and wage replacement for positive cases."
Noting that "the fatality rate of the virus is significantly higher among seniors," Polis mentioned a number of different measures that the state will take to help protect the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. In particular, those who are over the age of 65 will be able to extend their driver's licenses online rather than going into Department of Motor Vehicles offices, which had been a requirement until now.
The governor also announced that the state will be offering drive-up coronavirus testing at 8100 East Lowry Boulevard in Denver for people who have a doctor's note saying they need testing.
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Polis specifically name-dropped Taiwan as a place that Colorado will look to for best practices in preventing the spread of coronavirus, while also noting that the state will look at what happened in Italy as a model for what not to do.
Over sixty million people are under almost total lockdown in Italy, the European country where the coronavirus has hit the hardest.
Polis mentioned that Colorado is not coming to a grinding halt like that right now.
"Declaring a state of emergency does not mean that Colorado isn’t open for business or recreation or tourism," he said. "We are."