Governor Polis took action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Polis issued and extended the following Executive Orders:
An Executive Order temporarily suspending certain regulatory deadlines to allow the state to continue to use federal funds designated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES Act).
An Executive Order directing the expenditure of federal funds pursuant to the CARES Act.
An Executive Order extending the State’s disaster declaration.
An Executive Order requiring mandatory furloughs for certain state employees.
An Executive Order preventing late fees for residential and commercial tenants.
Nine Executive Orders regarding the following ballot initiatives:
Today, Governor Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to the state’s confirmation of the first known variant case of COVID-19 in the U.S. Gov. Polis was joined by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist, CDPHE; Dr. Emily Travanty, PhD, Scientific Director, Laboratory Services Division, CDPHE; and Dr. Eric France, Chief Medical Officer, CDPHE.
“All versions of this deadly virus are highly contagious, and it’s important that as we head into the final stretch, Coloradans make an even greater effort to wear masks around others, socialize only with people in their household, and stay at least six feet from others when out. The fact that we were able to detect this as quickly as we did truly speaks to the incredible work of the exceptional scientists and staff in our lab,” Governor Polis said. “While we are the first to confirm a case of this variant strain, it’s unlikely that this is truly the first case of this nature in the United States, and in the days and weeks ahead, scientists will determine how widespread it is. It’s not uncommon for a virus to mutate or change, and some early evidence from the United Kingdom shows that this variant may spread more quickly,” the Governor said.
“The CDC and scientists in England, where this variant is believed to have originated, continue to emphasize that the very same things we are doing to slow the spread of the virus now, are just as important, if not more so. Coloradoans must continue to wear a mask, stay at least 6ft away from others, avoid gatherings with those outside your home, and wash your hands regularly with soap and water,” the Governor said.
The identified case involves a person in his 20s who was working at a facility in Elbert County and has not recently traveled. This individual is currently recovering and in isolation. The new strain found in Colorado is the same strain identified in the United Kingdom, known as B.1.1.7. The state is also investigating a second sample that was identified as a possible B.1.1.7 strain, but the sequence of that case has not been confirmed. This individual is also in isolation.
The Governor reminded Coloradans that New Year celebrations should only occur between those in their immediate household. “2021 is bound to be a better year than 2020 was but to make that a reality, we must celebrate the New Year responsibility,” the Governor said.
The Governor also provided an update on the state’s most recent COVID numbers and announced that Colorado is updating its vaccine distribution phasing and entering Phase 1B.
With this new update, Governor Polis explained that Phase 1B also now covers Coloradans 70 and older, who represent 78% of all COVID deaths in our state. Coloradans age 70 and older will have the opportunity to begin getting vaccinated in the next few days, as supplies allow. The state is moving as fast as the federal supply chain allows and actively onboarding more providers throughout the state.
Additionally, the Governor explained that entering this new phase also includes frontline essential workers and continuity of state government, which will include the following groups:
Educators and daycare staff
Food and agriculture workers
U.S. Postal Service
Public Transit and specialized transportation personnel
Public Health workers
Direct care providers for Coloradans experiencing homelessness
Essential personnel for the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government
Governor Polis took action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Polis extended an Executive Order pertaining to juvenile justice. He also released two new Executive Orders; one which will allow Local Public Health Agencies to reallocate contract dollars for COVID-19 response and one to allow veterinarians to provide telehealth services.
Today, Gov. Polis and state health officials announced Colorado’s first case of the of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK.
The Colorado State Laboratory confirmed and notified the Center for Disease Control (CDC) of the case. The individual is a male in his 20s who is currently in isolation in Elbert County and has no travel history.
Public health officials are doing a thorough investigation. The individual is recovering in isolation and will remain there until cleared by public health officials. The individual has no close contacts identified so far, but public health officials are working to identify other potential cases and contacts through thorough contact tracing interviews.
“There is a lot we don’t know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I want to thank our scientists and dedicated medical professionals for their swift work and ask Coloradans to continue our efforts to prevent disease transmission by wearing masks, standing six feet apart when gathering with others, and only interacting with members of their immediate household.”
The Colorado state lab was the first in the country to quickly identify the variant through sophisticated analysis of testing samples. The lab initially performed the diagnostic PCR test on the sample and found that the sample was positive for COVID-19 with strong signals for the N gene and ORF1ab (both are detected when a person has COVID-19), but the signal for the S gene was not detected. When the S gene doesn’t register in the testing, it is called an “S Drop Out Profile,” and it is considered an essential signature for the variant. The sample was flagged for further investigation. Scientists then sequenced the viral genome from the patient sample and found eight mutations specific to the spike protein gene associated with this variant. Genome sequencing is a molecular profiling of the entire viral RNA sequence.
Scientists in the United Kingdom believe the B.1.1.7 variant to be more contagious than previously identified strains of the SARS-CoV-2 variant, though no more severe in symptoms. In addition, the currently approved vaccines are thought to be effective against this variant.
“The fact that Colorado has detected this virant first in the nation is a testament to the sophistication of Colorado's response and the talent of CDPHE's scientist and lab operations,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We are currently using all the tools available to protect public health and mitigate the spread of this variant.”
Governor Polis and State officials will provide further details at a press conference tomorrow morning.
The passage of the bipartisan SB20B-001 allocated $35.15M to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) for grants to certain small businesses across Colorado, struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic. SB20B-001 was sponsored by Sens. Faith Winter and Kevin Priola, and Reps. Leslie Herod and Shane Sandridge.
Businesses will obtain funding through their local governments from the DOLA Division of Local Government (DLG) Small Business Relief program (SBR), managed in collaboration with the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), who are working with local government associations and governments, regional councils of governments, and economic development agencies.
“Small businesses are a critical component of our community and are essential to building Colorado’s economy back stronger than before. As a person who has run a business, I understand the challenges our small business community is facing during this challenging time,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I’m thankful to the state lawmakers for their bipartisan action to help our communities build back stronger.”
Eligible businesses are restaurants and bars, including distilleries, wineries and breweries, caterers, movie theaters and fitness or recreational sports centers with revenues under $2.5M. The business must be a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or sole proprietorship in good standing with all licenses and founded prior to March 26, 2020. Businesses must have at least one employee unless they are a sole proprietorship, and they must have a reduced revenue of at least 20 percent due to capacity restrictions from public health orders.
Program funding is available to counties, councils of government, economic development districts and – if a county is unable or unwilling to administer the program – municipalities. It is open to those who are under state-mandated severe capacity restrictions that began on Dec. 10 or before, and are still under those restrictions through Dec. 31. The entity must be in compliance with all public health restrictions.
Local governments must apply to DOLA by Jan. 8, 2021 using state agency applications. DOLA will allocate funds to local governments based on their population size, with all disbursements completed by Jan. 15. Ten percent of program funds are reserved for counties with the highest need and populations of less than 100 thousand. Local governments will allocate funds to approved businesses in their geography by no later than Feb. 12.
Also funded through SB 20B-001 is the Colorado Arts Relief Fund which provides $7.5 million to support arts, cultural and entertainment artists, crew members, and organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding through this bill will be distributed through two separate grant applications — Business/Organization and Individuals — and can be used to cover any personal or business expense. For individuals, grant awards are one-time flat amounts up to $2,500. For organizations, the funding amount will be based on the size of your organization's cash operating revenue loss from 2019 to 2020. These funds are being distributed through the Colorado Creative industries office. More information is available at oedit.colorado.gov/colorado-arts-relief-grant.
Applications and information are available at the DOLA SBR website.
Gov. Polis amended and extended an Executive Order requiring hospitals and freestanding emergency departments that have reached capacity to notify the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and provide CDPHE with authority to direct those facilities to cease admitting new patients and/or transfer patients. The amendments expand the authorizations to include facilities that are reasonably anticipated to reach capacity, and allow patients to be admitted without prior authorization requirements.
Today, Governor Jared Polis provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 at the Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons as residents became some of the first seniors in Colorado to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Colorado has a proud military history and with that history comes a responsibility to care for our Veterans, many of whom are older -- especially in the face of a pandemic that has put many at highest-risk of becoming several ill, or sadly, losing the battle to COVID-19,” said Governor Polis. “We are now able to vaccinate those whose legacy has been risking their own lives in the line of duty to save ours, and I was honored to be in Aurora today as our residents and staff of the Fitzsimons facility start to receive the vaccine. Together, we can start climbing out of this public health crisis.”
The Governor held a moment of silence to honor the memories of friends and family members who are no longer with us today due to COVID-19.
The first two residents of Fitzsimons to receive the vaccine today were Melvin Menard, a Marine veteran, and Phil Ross, an Army veteran.
Melvin Menard is an 88-year-old Marine veteran and Purple Heart recipient who served in the Korean war. When he was presented the opportunity after the Korean War to go home he stated, “I decided to stay in the Marines until they officially signed the peace treaty.”
Melvin said that he was looking forward to receiving his vaccine and interested in obtaining an effective vaccine so that all the residents, who have not been able to see their relatives, except virtually, outdoors or through windows for months now, can come and go on their own.
Phil Ross is a 73-year-old army veteran, who served in Vietnam. When Phil was asked what getting the vaccine means to him, he said, “I would do anything to help anyone during this pandemic. I am passionate about making things better for everyone.”
Both Phil and Melvin have been able to take advantage of seeing family through glass windows. Last week, when it was below freezing temperatures, Phil was thrilled to have an outdoor visit with his wife, Maria, even six feet apart. Both of these Veterans have been able to occasionally have outdoor visits with family members and both individuals were diagnosed and have recovered from COVID-19.
Today’s event took place outside while the residents received the vaccine inside the facility. The Governor and family members of the residents provided remarks and greeted their loved ones via video.
Fitzsimons serves Veterans, Veterans spouses and Gold Star parents. Their residents include our brave Veterans that have served in military engagements from World War II to the modern conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In an effort to be as transparent as possible through this process, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched the vaccine data dashboard last week as a tool for Coloradans to track information on the current phase Colorado is in and how many vaccines providers have administered.
Last week Governor Polis announced that the Back-to-School Working Group made recommendations that will guide a return to in-person learning for Colorado’s kids. Many school districts will be welcoming students back in person in January, including Denver Public Schools, Adams 12, Aurora Public Schools, Cherry Creek Public Schools, and Boulder Valley Public Schools.
With the holiday season upon us, Governor Polis reminded Coloradans to continue following the public health direction by wearing masks, avoiding social gatherings with people outside your homes, and staying at least six feet away from others.
Being socially distanced in the great Colorado outdoors is an excellent way to follow COVID safety protocols and still get some much needed fresh air and exercise, but it’s important that Coloradans continue to recreate responsibly. The State is also sharing information for those partaking in backcountry activities; there have been 132 avalanches since Friday, 49 of which were triggered by people using Colorado’s backcountry. Tragically, this past weekend there were three fatalities and nine people caught in slides. Visit http://colorado.com/winterbackcountrysafety for tips, a directory of backcountry guides & trainings and to take the backcountry winter safety pledge.
Governor Jared Polis released a statement following the passage of a bipartisan Federal stimulus package.
“Hardworking Coloradans, our schools, and our small businesses deserve real relief. This is an important step and one that will help our state and country build back stronger than before the pandemic,” said Governor Polis. “I’m thankful to the majority of Colorado’s federal delegation who worked to pass this bipartisan COVID relief package and continue to urge Washington to provide additional help to those in need.”
Governor Jared Polis applauded bipartisan Congressional action to provide COVID-19 relief:
“Colorado’s hardworking people and small businesses need relief and we are glad Congress is finally considering at least some help. Additional federal direct cash payments of $600 per person and extended unemployment benefits for over 16,000 Coloradans impacted by this pandemic are a welcomed resource,” said Governor Polis. “Ultimately, this package is an important down payment from the federal government for what is needed to help get the nation successfully through the health crisis from the deadly virus and the global recession.”
“I want to thank Senator Bennet for his leadership on securing the extended benefit language in the final package. In addition, I would like to thank the sponsors of SB20B-02, Housing and Direct COVID Emergency Assistance, for their leadership on the bill and especially thank Representative Kipp who brought this issue to our attention, as well as the bill sponsors, Senator Holbert, Gonzalez, and Reps. Exum and Tipper,” said the Governor.
The package includes:
Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: Language allowing Unemployment Insurance benefits to continue for over 16,000 Coloradans currently on Extended Benefits (EB), and a $300 per week UI enhancement for Coloradans out of work
$600 in direct payment checks: Direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child
$69 billion in funding for vaccines testing and tracing, community health and health care provider support
$325 billion in support for small business: more than $280 billion for PPP loans, $15 billion in funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions and $20 billion for targeted EIDL Grants which are critical to many smaller businesses
Rental assistance: $25 billion for rental assistance and an extension of the eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021
$13 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits
$82 billion for education and $10 billion for child care assistance: funding for colleges and schools, and funding for child care assistance to get families back to work
$7 billion in Broadband access: funding to increase access to broadband, including to increase telehealth, the tribal broadband fund and funding to complete the broadband maps in order for the government to distribute funding to the areas that need it the most
$10 billion for state highways
$13 billion for farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses due to the pandemic, as well as funds to support the food supply chain
“I thank Colorado’s federal delegation for their efforts and look forward to working with President-Elect Biden and the next Congress to ensure Colorado builds back stronger,” concluded Governor Polis.
Today, Governor Polis took action today in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Polis amended an Executive Order for the COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration to transfer money from the State Emergency Reserve to the Disaster Emergency Fund to cover the remaining December costs for testing and vaccine distribution due to a delay in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursements.
Governor Polis has taken bold action to keep people housed during this global pandemic. Gov. Polis today amended and extended an Executive Order limiting certain evictions to provide relief to Coloradans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This order could be subject to change in order to reflect any Congressional action should the federal government alter the Center for Disease Control and Preventions existing order in a Congressional relief package.
Today Governor Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19 and discussed mental health practices during the holiday season. Gov. Polis was joined by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist, and Aimee Voth Siebert, the Disaster Behavioral Health Lead at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“There is hope on the horizon as the vaccine is now in Colorado and being distributed to frontline health care heroes, but it is going to be months before the general population can be vaccinated. So let’s keep doing our part to slow the spread of the virus by wearing masks, staying six feet from others, and avoiding gatherings outside of our household,” said Gov. Polis. “Coloradans are facing mental health challenges as we experience a holiday season unlike any other but help and resources are available to anyone struggling. We can and will get through this challenging time together.”
Sharing the news that the Pfizer vaccine vial, which was only labeled to contain five doses, actually yields a sixth dose when administered with precision, the Governor explained that this extra dose is an incredible, life-saving opportunity to increase our supply of the vaccine in Colorado by 20%, getting even more people vaccinated sooner. The Governor sent a letter to the vaccine providers asking them to use the sixth dose.
Governor Polis also announced that earlier this week, the Department of Public Health and Environment released the final parameters for the 5 Star Program for restaurants which counties must apply for. Qualifying businesses in counties that have chosen to stand up this program are able to expand operations by implementing safety measures beyond what is already required by public health orders and guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Depending on the county’s level and metrics, certified businesses may be eligible for less restrictive capacity caps, meaning more indoor dining for those who meet the criteria. This is completely voluntary for local governments to participate in. CDPHE began accepting applications from counties today.
1 out of every 59 Coloradans is infected with COVID-19. Wearing masks, avoiding social gatherings with people outside your homes, and staying at least six feet away from others is helping Colorado change the concerning trends the state has been experiencing over the last couple months. Continuing this behavior over the next few weeks is going to be crucial to preventing disease transmission and loss of life.
The Governor acknowledged that he recognizes how challenging this has been and that the state knows that throughout this pandemic, Coloradans have experienced increased feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety and these feelings are traditionally exacerbated during the holidays, but particularly this year as we are away from our loved ones.
According to the Office of eHealth Innovation, there has been a 600% increase in telemedicine use for anxiety, depression, and substance use. For anyone out there experiencing mental health challenges, please know that you are not alone and there are resources available to get you the support you need.
Mental health care is just as important as any physical health care, and we want to ensure that Coloradans know how to access that care.
If you are experiencing a crisis or need someone to talk to, please reach out to Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255.
You can also visit:
Health First Colorado - Colorado’s Medicaid Program - https://www.healthfirstcolorado.com/
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - find services near you at findtreatment.samhsa.gov
The Governor also extended and amended an Executive Order temporarily suspending certain regulatory statutes due to the presence of COVID-19, and extended an Executive Order related to marriage licenses.
Governor Polis and the State of Colorado released the “Roadmap to In-Person Learning,” a report detailing research around the importance of in-person learning, and strategies and tactics the State is taking to assist with safe, consistent in-person learning at P-12 schools this semester. The Governor was joined by Dr. Katy Anthes, Commissioner of Education, Rebecca Holmes and Heath Harmon, Co-Chairs of the “Back-to-School Working Group.”
“The best investment we can make in the future of our state is in our children and their education. I am committed to ensuring that our children’s education and well-being is not a casualty of this pandemic. Using data, science and transparency, we have identified action steps in key areas that will enable us to open schools safely for in person education while prioritizing the health of students and staff,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Getting all students back to safe and consistent in-person learning is critical to our future and it’s going to take all of us to ensure Colorado kids can safely return to school. It’s not just on our educators and school staff to be safe, but also on students, parents and entire communities to be responsible to save lives and help schools return by wearing masks and avoiding social gatherings."
The “Roadmap to In-Person Learning” report was informed by the “Back-to-School Working Group,” a diverse group of stakeholders including parents, educators, school leaders, and public health experts. The group met over the past three weeks to discuss best practices and actions the state can take to help students get back to in-person learning as soon as safely possible. Governor Polis also released two cover letters -- one for parents and one for educators and school staff.
Despite educators’ important efforts to educate students, research shows that academic and social emotional development is suffering. These challenges are greater for students with disabilities, students who are low-income, English language learners, students without access to the internet, and students experiencing homelessness or in foster care. It has also had negative mental health impacts and posed a significant risk to the economy.
Using data, science and transparency, this report lays out a number of action steps the State will be taking to help all students return to in-person learning this semester. This includes:
Increasing trust and transparency through:
Regular communication with school districts, educators, and parents about disease transmission, emerging resources, and best practices.
Encouraging counties to commit to prioritize in-person learning by considering suspending in-person extracurricular and recreational activities that interfere with cohorting once a county reaches Orange, Red, or Purple on the Dial.
Ensuring in-person, school sponsored activities such as athletics, music, art, and theatre should only occur once full time or hybrid in-person learning is successfully occurring with minimal disruptions.
Providing school data dashboards that are publicly available to ensure public health case and outbreak data is fully transparent and accessible to the public.
Encouraging school districts and schools to prioritize full-time in-person education for the most vulnerable groups, including students with disabilities, students who are low-income, English language learners, students without access to the internet, students experiencing homelessness or in foster care, and children of frontline workers.
Preventing and protecting students, families, educators, and staff through:
Continuing to support the CDC, CDPHE, and CDE strong recommendation for all children over the age of 3 to wear a mask.
Because teaching requires constant talking, some educators may prefer a surgical or cloth mask instead of a KN95 mask. The state can continue to provide high quality medical, surgical, or other masks as appropriate for teachers, in-school health care providers, and other members of the school community for different operational or educational needs.
Creating evidence-based protocols and supplementary resources for schools to implement symptom screening in the home setting, as recommended by the CDC as well as strategies for in-school screening when home screening is incomplete.
Supporting effective cohorting models and protocols to minimize classroom disruptions, and continue to research more effective ways to minimize disruptions from qurantines.
Supporting additional staffing to ensure schools can operate during staff quarantine periods.
Creating resources and tools to improve ventilation in learning spaces including the use of outdoor spaces and outside facing windows remaining open in classrooms.
Encouraging hand washing hygiene, cleaning, and disinfecting with appropriate products known to be effective against SARS-CoV-2.
Supporting effective models for physical distancing in classrooms.
Increasing access to testing and vaccines through:
Continuing to provide resources for testing, particularly in the highest viral prevalence communities such as those counties in Red or Purple, as well as those that have greater challenges in accessing testing. This should include offering regular screening for educators and staff interested, for symptomatic individuals that need a diagnostic test, and for individuals who do not have symptoms but have been quarantined after an exposure.
Supporting additional capacity for contact tracing for schools, which may include contact tracing resources at the State level.
Promoting partnerships between the medical and public health community and school districts to help not just provide testing materials, but also the personnel to administer and manage testing programs and contact tracing when positive cases are identified. Facilitate access to in-person or virtual medical evaluation for ill students, teachers, and staff.
Continuing to prioritize educators and school staff in the phased vaccination prioritization.
Providing clear messaging on the vaccine and its safety, effectiveness, and importance to our return to normalcy, including sharing talking points for schools to share with parents and their communities. This messaging should be in Spanish and other languages common in Colorado.
The state of Colorado received its first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine today. Governor Jared Polis personally signed for and received the first shipment of the vaccine this morning at the State Lab in Denver. The Governor was joined by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) staff, CDPHE incident commander Scott Bookman, Guard & Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State of Colorado Lead Epidemiologist, Brigadier General Scott Sherman, Dir. of Joint Vaccine Task Force and the Colorado National Guard.
“This is great news for our health care workers and those at highest risk in our state & the beginning of the end of the pandemic,” said Governor Polis. “This vaccine is an amazing scientific triumph for humanity and the distribution which starts today is a historic undertaking. We still have a ways to go and Coloradans should double down now and continue to do what we know works in the fight against this virus and that’s wearing masks, physically distancing, and avoiding personal gatherings.”
This afternoon, Governor Polis will join frontline health care workers today at 2 pm in Fort Collins as the health care workers will receive the first doses of the vaccine in the state.
Deliveries will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week to the remaining 21 vaccine recipient sites. The State lab received 975 doses, UCHealth Poudre Valley received 3900 doses and Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs received 3900.
This weekend, Governor Polis urged Colorado hospitals to administer the COVID-19 vaccination within 72 hours of receiving the vaccine.
Information about the 2 pm vaccine administration for frontline health care workers at UC Health Poudre Valley Hospital: KUSA is the television pool, KUNC is the radio pool, The Denver Post is the print/digital/photography pool.
Governor Polis took action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Polis extended an Executive Order authorizing certain state agencies to promulgate and issue emergency rules extending the expiration date of licenses and other documents due to the presence of COVID-19. Gov. Polis extended an Executive Order that clarifies the order of operations for surging hospital capacity for the State as it relates to elective surgery.
Governor Polis urged Colorado hospitals to administer the COVID-19 vaccination within 72 hours of receiving the vaccine.
“Colorado is expecting to begin receiving initial, limited doses of COVID vaccine this week, and we need to be ready to hit the ground running. Our ability to quickly vaccinate prioritized populations and report those doses as administered to the Colorado Immunization Information System is paramount to Colorado’s ability to receive future allocations of COVID vaccine and end this public health crisis. With vaccine distribution plans coming together, I ask that you please affirm that your facility/organization is able to administer the COVID vaccinations within 72 hours of receiving the vaccine,” Governor Polis wrote in a letter to Colorado hospitals.
Today, Governor Jared Polis provided an update on the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the vaccine arriving in Colorado soon, we are one step closer toward ending the crisis brought on by this once-in-a-century pandemic, but we must redouble our efforts to wear masks and avoid socializing these next few weeks,” said Governor Polis. “Our top priority has always been to save the maximum number of lives and to end this crisis as soon as possible.”
“I want to thank Coloradans for their efforts during this challenging time. To slow transmission of this deadly virus this year we are all innovating and reimagining what celebrating the holidays looks like by celebrating virtually, avoiding unnecessary travel and shopping locally including online to support local businesses,” Governor Polis added
Colorado officials are hopeful that the state can get through vaccinations for Phase 1 this Winter, and the general population by the end of Summer 2021 - but this is dependent on steady shipments of vaccines from the federal government and steady administration of the vaccine by providers around the state.
Recognizing the need for more federal relief in the coming months, the Governor announced today that he, along with the governors of Utah, Arizona, and Nevada are urging Congress to ensure that Western states can fairly address the financial and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Governor Polis joined a bipartisan group of governors representing 1 in 3 Americans in calling for action to defeat COVID-19.
As the holidays arrive, it still isn’t safe to celebrate the way Coloradans normally have in the past. Coloradans should connect virtually, avoid travel and shop locally to support our small businesses. Colorado is full of small businesses that carry far superior Colorado products that are perfect for letting your friends and family know that you care. Visit www.coloradosbdc.org/shop-local to find local businesses to support near you.
For more holiday tips visit : https://covid19.colorado.gov/for-coloradans/winter-holiday-tips
Governor Polis also took action on COVID-19 by extending an Executive Order increasing the Medicaid home health workforce and eliminating cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment for Medicaid enrollees. The Governor also extended an Executive Order related to criminal justice.
Four Western Governors, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak are urging Congress to ensure that states can fairly address the financial and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bipartisan group of Governors sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate involved in the bicameral COVID relief legislation.
“Colorado is focused on building back stronger than before and we need a federal stimulus package that does not disadvantage low-tax states,” said Gov. Polis. “All states and local governments are on the frontlines of the response to this once in a century pandemic, and we need Washington to provide a relief package that is fair and helps us respond swiftly to the unique challenges created by this crisis.”
"The current proposal in the bipartisan bill is not a good indicator of the economic impact of the virus and will result in an unfair distribution of desperately needed federal funds across the states, putting states like Nevada further behind on the path toward a full economic recovery,” said Gov. Sisolak. “I am glad to join Governor Polis and other Western governors in strongly encouraging leaders to revise the revenue formula to be either a straight-forward proportional distribution by population or other indicator that reflects economic loss irrespective of a state's tax and spending policies."
The full letter is below:
Dear Senators Cassidy, Manchin, King, Collins, Warner, Shaheen, Murkowski, Romney, and Hassan:
Thank you for your strong bipartisan leadership and efforts to propose a framework to help provide critical economic relief to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As you work to draft this bipartisan stimulus package, Western Governors urge you to ensure that the distribution of the proposed state and local aid formula remains equitable for all States.
Unfortunately, the proposed state and local aid formula in the bipartisan bill is not a good indicator of the economic impact of the virus, and will unfairly and inequitably distribute revenue across the states. The current formula, which distributes ⅓ of the state share on the basis of population and ⅔ allocated by revenue loss, would significantly disadvantage Western states like ours that have a low tax rate and have had minimal business shutdowns during this pandemic, as compared to other states. As such, we would strongly encourage you to consider revising the revenue formula to be either a straight-forward proportional distribution by population or an economic indicator, such as change in unemployment rate.
As states continue to lead the fight against COVID-19, we very much hope you consider our request to equitably ensure we can address the financial and public health impacts of the pandemic.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this urgent request to amend the bipartisan federal stimulus package.
Today, Governor Polis and state officials discussed the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and provided an update on the response to the pandemic. Gov. Polis was joined by Scott Bookman, Incident Commander for the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment; Brigadier General Scott Sherman, Dir. of Joint Vaccine Task Force, Colorado National Guard; and Joni Reynolds, Gunnison County Public Health Director.
“The focus of this plan is to save lives and end the crisis as soon as possible. Which means prioritizing our most at-risk health care workers and individuals. Our state has been carefully planning this process, working closely with local public health agencies and engaging with providers and communities to prepare for the day when the vaccine would be approved for distribution and arrive in Colorado,” said Gov. Polis. “This vaccine is the gateway to a life without this crisis, but it will take time until everyone can access it because of the limited supply of vaccines so we must continue to do what we know works to slow the spread of the virus.”
Colorado is about 1.69% of the population of the U.S. and each week the state is expecting to receive 1.69% of the available vaccines. It will take careful planning and time to vaccinate Colorado’s nearly six million people. From a nationwide and worldwide perspective, distributing the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the biggest undertakings in history.
The majority of Phase 1 early recipients of the vaccine will receive it through their employer, local public health agency, or through the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care (LTC) Program if they are residents of a long-term care center. More information about provider settings and options for Phase 2 and Phase 3 recipients will be coming soon.
For more information visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine
For frequently asked questions visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine-faq
Here is today’s presentation and watch today’s press conference
Additionally, this week, the Colorado Unified Coordination Center completed an exercise to test its ability to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to a distribution facility from Denver International Airport. In a four-hour end-to-end exercise, the Pfizer vaccine arrived at Denver International Airport where it was loaded onto a secure vehicle and driven to Vail Health, one of several distribution centers across the state. The training allowed simultaneous trainings to take place:
Colorado Unified Coordination Center, CDPHE and CDPS staff focused on the hand-to-hand transport of the vaccine, experiencing each logistical milestone.
The Unified Coordination Center conducted a tabletop exercise to game out problematic scenarios such as disruptions to transportation routes.
Following the Special Session of the 72nd General Assembly, Governor Jared Polis signed SB20B-004, sponsored by Representative Julie McCluskie and Senator Dominick Moreno, into law and took action to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new law, passed with broad bipartisan support, transfers $100,000,000 from the General Fund to the Controlled Maintenance Trust Fund and provides the Governor with authority to transfer some or all of that amount to the Disaster Emergency Fund to assist with the public health and emergency response costs associated with COVID-19 in Colorado.
The Governor also signed an amendment to the original COVID-19 disaster declaration transferring $84,300,000 allocated in SB20B-004 from the Controlled Maintenance Trust Fund to the Disaster Emergency Fund, and making that amount available to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Governor Polis took additional action regarding COVID-19 by extending Executive Orders to provide boards of county commissioners with broader discretion and greater flexibility to implement restrictions on open burning, providing relief to public utility customers, and expanding the health care workforce for hospitals and other inpatient treatment facilities.
The vast majority of businesses in a recent field survey conducted by the Department of Revenue (CDOR) showed that they are following COVID-19 protocols. Over the week of Thanksgiving, CDOR completed 204 inspection checks. Of those, only two businesses received a summary suspension because of dangerous conditions.
“Most Colorado businesses are doing their part by following COVID-19 state and local protocols, because they know that we can and will get through this together and understand the importance of inspiring consumer confidence in safety,” said Governor Polis. “When a business cuts corners on safety and freeloads on others, it hinders our entire state’s ability to suppress this deadly virus and undermines our shared goal of bouncing back stronger than before. Thankfully, this evidence shows how the vast majority of Colorado businesses are successfully implementing protocols to help keep Coronavirus at bay.”
The state legislature is currently discussing sending critical legislation to the Governor’s desk that will help Colorado families, small businesses, provide tax relief and waiver of fees for Colorado’s restaurants and bars during the challenging winter months ahead. Governor Polis continues to urge Washington to pass a real relief package to further stimulate the economy.
Colorado state agencies continually communicate with state-regulated entities to promote and ensure compliance with all public health orders. In addition to proactive communication and regular updates to the state’s COVID website, state agencies contact regulated entities if a potential violation has been reported.
While enforcement generally starts at the local level, the state has been involved in enforcement through cease and desist orders and the temporary suspension of certain licenses.
The Department of Regulatory Agencies directly contacts licensees if there is a complaint of potential violation of an Executive Order or Public Health Order, further informing the licensee that action may be taken to protect the public and the Department will enforce to its fullest authority if there is a lack of compliance.
The Liquor Enforcement Division will continue to perform routine compliance checks at liquor licensed establishments. The LED at DOR conducts checks to ensure licensees are in compliance with state and local public health orders. While the division prioritizes education and outreach, businesses could face a summary suspension
Governor Polis and Legislative Leadership today discussed the successful special legislative session and announced the passage of bipartisan legislation to provide COVID-19 relief.
“The bipartisan efforts achieved this week will help folks get through the challenging months ahead. I’m thrilled we are acting now as a state to improve internet access for students and educators, give a much needed boost to child care providers, provide a lifeline for small businesses and restaurants through tax relief and assistance, and bridge the gap on rent, utilities and food pantry programs for Coloradans who have been hit the hardest,” said Gov. Polis. “But we know there is more work to be done and we continue to urge Washington to take action and give Coloradans the support we need to get through these tougher times and build back stronger.”
The legislation passed during special session provides support to small businesses, helps families avoid eviction or foreclosure, keep the lights on, and access safe child care, and ensure every Coloradan has a fair shot to get through this pandemic and succeed as our state recovers.
“During this session, we worked in a bipartisan way to use our limited state resources to help those who have been hit hardest by this pandemic,” said Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “Colorado stepped up to bridge the gap until we have a vaccine or until Congress can pass relief. In the absence of Washington, we deployed every tool and all the state resources we have to boost our small businesses, preserve safe child care options for working parents, and help families make ends meet.”
“I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished during this Extraordinary Session. With limited resources, we were able to come together and work across the aisle to deliver results for our state – passing meaningful legislation to address child care shortages, housing instability, and small business struggles. At the same time, the people of Colorado are not out of the woods yet, families and businesses are fighting to survive, and without Congressional action, people will continue to suffer serious, lasting consequences. But hope is on the horizon, and with aid successfully on its way, we can hold on a little longer,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo.
Legislation approved by the legislature includes:
SB20B-001 sponsored by Senators Faith Winter and Kevin Priola, will send $57 million in direct aid, grants, and annual fee waivers to struggling small businesses – prioritizing those operating in counties experiencing severe capacity restrictions. It will also create grant programs and allocate funds specifically for art and cultural organizations as well as minority-owned businesses.
SB20B-002 sponsored by Senators Julie Gonzales and Chris Holbert, provides $60 million for emergency housing assistance to individuals and households who are in financial need due to the COVID-19. Of that funding, $1 million will specifically support the Eviction Legal Assistance Fund, which will help Coloradans stay in their homes this winter. Finally, the bill puts in place a provision that seeks to ensure tens of thousands of unemployed Coloradans can continue to have access to the federally funded State Extended Benefits Program through December 26.
SB20B-003 sponsored by Senators Rhonda Fields and Larry Crowder, appropriates $5 million to the Energy Outreach Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund in order to provide financial relief to Coloradans that are struggling to pay their utility bills – a dangerous outcome in the winter months.
SB20B-004 sponsored by Senator Dominick Moreno, allocates an additional $100 million to ensure the state can continue to protect public health while waiting for further federal stimulus and reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
HB20B-1001, sponsored by Reps. Mary Young and Matt Soper will dedicate $20 million towards increasing our state’s broadband capacity – connecting more students to their teachers so that they can learn safely in the months ahead. Internet access is absolutely essential for students during this difficult time. But many families who are struggling with financial stability simply can’t afford to cover the cost, while numerous school districts lack the infrastructure to educate their students remotely.
“This special session shows what is possible when people from both parties work together--we can provide meaningful relief to help the small businesses and families who have been hit hardest by this pandemic,” said Speaker-designate Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “We have challenging months ahead, but we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. While we know more help is needed from Washington, this assistance will support small businesses who are struggling to stay open and deliver relief for Colorado families to help them through the pandemic.”
“Coloradans take care of Coloradans,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder. “Despite the incessant partisan bickering among our friends in the federal government, I’m deeply grateful that we were able to set a better example – putting differences aside and coming together around a common purpose. This pandemic has been brutally hard, affecting every part of our lives, but things will get better. And hopefully what we accomplished here will lighten the load for families and small businesses through the difficult winter months ahead.”
HB20B-1002, sponsored by Reps. Cathy Kipp & Lois Landgraf will distribute $45 million to enable existing child care providers to keep their doors open and new providers to open and meet the needs of working parents, especially in child care deserts. Colorado’s economic recovery depends on its workforce having access to stable child care, but due to temporary closures and the increased costs of health and safety precautions for child care providers, many are on the brink of financial collapse. These grant programs are estimated to support 2,600 child care facilities, preserving child care for over 100,000 children and creating capacity for tens of thousands more. Moreover, research shows that for every dollar spent on early childhood programs, $2.25 is contributed to our state’s economy.
HB20B-1003, sponsored by Reps. Lisa Cutter and Rod Bockenfeld will devote $5 million to replenishing essential community services that increase access to food for Colorado families facing food insecurity. 1 in 3 Coloradans are struggling with hunger as more and more families are being forced to choose between paying their bills and putting food on the table. Food banks, food pantries and their partners need additional assistance to meet the rising demands, especially as the December expiration for federal hunger relief looms.
HB20B-1004, sponsored by Reps. Alex Valdez & Kevin Van Winkle, will allow restaurants, bars, and food trucks to retain state sales tax they collect from November 2020 through February 2021. This will provide bars and restaurants up to $2,000 per location and limited to five locations for up to $10,000 in tax relief each month to help them make ends meet.
The Governor and legislative leadership held a press conference following the special session today. Watch the news conference here.
Governor Polis and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced that the state has begun issuing one-time stimulus payments of $375 to Coloradans facing economic hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Whether you’ve suffered from the virus itself, faced economic struggles, or felt the mental toll - no one is left unscathed by this pandemic. This direct cash payment will help cover rent or put food on the table for over 400,000 Coloradans who have struggled, but we know that Colorado or any state can only do so much, and national help is urgently needed,” said Governor Polis. “I’m thankful for the partnership of legislative leadership and the legislature’s efforts this week to provide real relief to Coloradans and our small businesses. We see light at the end of the tunnel with news of a vaccine, but the consequences of this pandemic will be far lingering if Washington fails to act.”
All Coloradans who were eligible to receive between $25 and $500 in weekly unemployment insurance benefits — including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and other programs — between March 15, 2020 and October 24, 2020, are eligible to receive the one-time payment. The Department estimates approximately 435,000 will be eligible. Since Monday, the Department has initiated fund transfers of more than $77 million to more than 213,012 claimants. It may take several days for claimants to receive their one-time payment, depending on their bank's direct deposit guidelines and method of payment preference on file.
Claimants do not need to contact the Department or take any other action in order to receive this one-time payment and all eligible claimants will receive an email or call from the Department.
Claimants are encouraged to log in to their benefits accounts and ensure that their address is up-to-date and their selected payment method - either direct deposit or Reliacard is correct. If claimants need to request a new pin they can do that either online or by phone via the Virtual Assistant tool at coloradoui.gov. Answers to frequently asked questions are available here