News and Updates 

6/5/20

Governor Jared Polis signed an Executive Order cutting red tape for restaurants and suspending certain statutes to remove bureaucratic barriers to serving alcoholic beverages in temporary outdoor dining spaces. 

 

 

“We know this is a difficult time for so many Coloradans, especially those in our restaurant and service industry. That’s why we want to cut as much red tape as we can to ensure that restaurants can get creative in serving customers for outdoor dining in as safe and easy a manner as possible,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I’m proud of the entrepreneurial spirit of Coloradans and know many business owners have had to find new, innovative ways to serve their customers these past few months. It remains critical that Coloradans continue wearing masks when they leave the house and washing their hands as much as possible. While we are able to slowly take these steps toward some semblance of normalcy, we are far from how things used to be and we must continue taking the necessary steps to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe.”

 

This Executive Order allows restaurants to obtain temporary approval from State and local licensing authorities to modify their licensed premises to include outdoor dining areas within 1,000 feet of the restaurant, and also allows for the consumption of alcoholic beverages on a public right of way that has been authorized by ordinance, resolution, or rule adopted by a municipality, city and county, or county.

 

This Executive Order also requires the Department of Revenue’s Liquor Enforcement Division to respond to the submission of an application for the temporary modification of a license within 24 hours to prevent any delays in restaurants offering safer outdoor service during the pandemic.

 

6/4/20

Governor Jared Polis today launched a new campaign, “Our Masks are Our Passport to the Colorado We Love,” including a public service announcement, encouraging Coloradans to wear masks as much as possible when they leave the house. 

 

The Governor today delayed the start of the news conference to accommodate the timing of George Floyd’s memorial service. Gov. Polis praised the demonstrators who have continued making their voices heard and remarked on the wise words of Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s daughter.

 

“A video of George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter Gianna, being carried on the shoulders of one of George’s closest friends went viral this week. Smiling, she declares: ‘Daddy changed the world.’ And he certainly did. One of the best things about being a parent is those moments when our children show us wisdom in an unexpected way. Let us allow Gianna Floyd’s youthful wisdom to guide us in our quest for justice and equality. Let us live up to an innocent child’s expectations of what this country is capable of, and let us deliver on her promise of a changed world,” the Governor said.

 

“The modeling shows that if we want to avoid a catastrophic breach of our health care system, and if we want to re-open our economy to a greater degree, then masks are absolutely essential,” Governor Polis said. “Here in our great state, your mask is your passport to the Colorado we love, and will play an important part in keeping yourself and those around you safe. Studies show that men are particularly reluctant to wear a mask, because they think it makes them look weak or uncool. But real weakness is being too insecure to wear a mask and then spreading coronavirus to your family when you get back home. At the end of the day, wearing a mask allows us to enjoy more of the Colorado we love.”

 

Watch the public service announcement

 

The Governor thanked Healthier Colorado, who partnered with the state to make this campaign happen, and the Colorado Outdoor Advertising Association who will be donating billboards for the campaign. The City of Westminster, Leevers Supermarkets, the Early Bird Restaurant, Pancho Cabrera, Metalonge, and all the volunteers were critical in the creation of this public service announcement. 

 

Gov. Polis also signed Executive Order D 2020 092, amending and extending prior Executive Orders concerning non-medical face coverings, to provide discretion to employers and operators of places of public accommodation to deny admittance or service and require the removal of any individual who fails to wear a medical or non-medical face covering. This Executive Order takes effect immediately. 

 

Today, the state finalized guidance for places of worship, outdoor recreation and personal recreation. Drafts were released on Monday, June 1 and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment solicited input from stakeholders and industry before releasing final versions today. This guidance now allows horses of worship to allow up to 50% capacity, but no more than 50 people for in-person worship. This also allows for pools to open in a limited capacity. 

 

The Governor also announced plans to bolster the state’s education system through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund or the GEER fund. This $44 million from the federal government is intended to provide broad flexibility for Governors to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on high-needs students from preschool through higher education. The majority of this funding will be utilized for a new P-20 Equity and Innovation Fund. School districts, charter schools, institutions of higher education, and tribes will be invited to apply alone, in consortia, or with a partner. These funds will be utilized to address the impact of COVID-19 slide by transforming schools, improving transitions between P-12 and higher education, and increasing student-centered learning. 

 

Gov. Polis announced that the Behavioral Health Task Force will publish an interim report outlining short and long-term impacts on the behavioral health system, including access to and affordability of services. Members will also evaluate the behavioral health crisis response to COVID-19 and recommend improvements for future events.

 

The task force is sponsored by Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera. Members of the task force include:

  • Yadira Caraveo, State House of Representatives

  • Cara Cheevers, Colorado Division of Insurance

  • Lila Cummings, Colorado Hospital Association

  • Curt Drennen, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Co-Chair

  • Daniel Darting, Signal Behavioral Health Network

  • Doyle Forrestel, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council

  • Camille Harding, Colorado Department of Human Services

  • Joy Hart, Colorado Department of Corrections

  • Brenda Heimbach, El Paso County Public Health Office

  • DeAnne House, Ute Mountain Ute

  • Cheri Jahn, Colorado Provider Association

  • Jan James, Larimer County Human Services 

  • Tracy Johnson, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing

  • Kim Nordstrom, Colorado Access

  • Carrie Paykoc, Office of eHealth Innovation

  • Rod Pelton, State House of Representatives

  • Susie Walton, Park County Human Services

  • Robert Werthwein, Colorado Department of Human Services, Co-Chair

  • Leon Wittner, Consumer - parent

  • Anthony Young, Association of Black Psychologists

 

The Governor also announced the state is launching LIFELINE PASS, a project that will encourage nursing homes and senior care facilities to allow visitation from relatives who safely test negative for Coronavirus. As the state works on the guidelines over the next week or so, this new program will allow people who test negative for Coronavirus, and have no known exposure or symptoms, to visit their loved ones. A 48-hour pass after a negative test can reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus to those who are most vulnerable and help make sure that residents of those facilities can receive visits in a reasonably safe way.

 

View the full news conference on the Governor’s Facebook page.6/4/20

Governor Polis today announced $44 million in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding for school districts, schools, and institutions of higher education, and other education-related entities to address the impact of COVID-19. The majority of these funds will be utilized for grants to school districts, public schools, and public institutions of higher education serving high-needs students in order to help prevent and address the “COVID slide” and support innovation and equity. In addition, the state will provide significant funding to increase capacity for Colorado Empowered Learning, the state-supported supplemental online program, in order to help school districts and schools access virtual content and professional development for educators in blended instructional models. 

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges across our state, but it has also created new opportunities to support innovation, increase equity, and improve our ability to offer high-quality blended instructional models across our state,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We are grateful to our federal partners for providing flexible funding that we can utilize to support Colorado students from preschool to higher education, increase capacity in rural areas, and invest in innovative approaches to improving student learning that can be replicated and scaled for years to come.” 

 

The State of Colorado will also provide funding to ensure all Colorado students with financial need receive direct assistance and to support educator recruitment and retention in high-needs areas. In the coming weeks, the State will release more information about how to secure funding. 

 

More information about the State of Colorado’s plans for GEER funding can be found below: 

 

Over $33 million in grants to school districts, public schools, public institutions of higher education, and other education-related entities to support equity and innovation to address the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing achievement gaps for students who already face challenges, including low-income students, minority students, English-language learners, students with disabilities, and students experiencing homelessness or in foster care. With the majority of the GEER funding, the State will accept applications for a P-20 innovation fund to address the learning challenges related to the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19 in a manner that creates lasting innovations and improved student learning across both pre-K-12 and higher education. These grants will focus on student-centered learning, rethinking the student experience, strengthening and formalizing linkages between higher education, pK-12, and industry, and catalyzing innovations that can drive long-term impact and be sustainable after the life of the grant. The State of Colorado is pursuing research funding that will allow projects to be evaluated and to inform future efforts to address learning gaps for high-needs students. Priority will be given to proposals that serve children and families who have been disproportionately impacted from the health or economic effects of the virus, or rural areas, or to serve schools or school districts in priority improvement or turnaround. You can find more information about this fund here.  

 

$5-6 million for dramatically increasing capacity for Colorado Empowered Learning. Governor Polis plans to work closely with the Colorado Department of Education to dramatically increase capacity for Colorado Empowered Learning, our state-supported supplemental online program that provides Colorado school districts, BOCES, and charter schools with access to fully-designed online courses, LMS platform options, professional development, and technical assistance for implementing blended and online learning models. These funds will allow school districts, BOCES, and charter schools greater access to this already developed and adaptive virtual content at low or no cost, and will help to build the capacity of our teachers by expanding access to professional development and coaching, whether in person or virtual, in blended instructional models.  

 

$1 million for ensuring that all Colorado students with financial need receive direct support from institutions of higher education. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provided $144 million to Colorado’s public institutions of higher education, 50 percent of which needed to be utilized to provide direct support to students. However, some resident students with financial need were excluded from such aid. The Governor’s office plans to utilize a portion of GEER funds to help ensure all qualified students with financial need receive the support they need to weather this crisis.

 

$3 million for investing in educator recruitment and retention to provide stability for school districts. The Quality Teacher Recruitment program provides support to organizations to recruit, select, train, and retain highly qualified teachers in areas that have had historic difficulty in attracting and keeping quality teachers. This program is even more important in an economic downturn, when school districts need support and stability in this area. Ensuring two years of funding for this program will help to support school districts that face significant challenges in the face of even further challenges with educator recruitment and retention this year. 

6/3/20

Gov. Polis and the COVID Relief Fund today announced the fourth round of grants. This round of funding provided a total of $2.97 million to 145 community-based organizations serving Coloradans who are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Funds were distributed for this round in the Impact and Recovery priority areas.

 

“Though it may feel we are getting back to normal, it’s important to remember that we are far from it, and many Coloradans are still struggling,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I’m so proud of how Coloradans have stepped up to donate their time or money to help our communities. These important funds are going directly to organizations on the ground who are working to help those impacted by the virus. This is a difficult time for many people, but we have to remember that we will all get through this together.”

 

Of the total applications that were approved, $1.28 million was awarded to 63 organizations in the Impact priority area and $1.69 million was awarded to 82 organizations for Recovery. The Fund’s review committees and Decision and Allocation Committee engaged in a coordinated review process to ensure alignment with the Fund’s eligibility criteria and were informed by community data and insights from across Colorado to ensure grant awards are in service to the most acute needs of communities.

 

Through four rounds, 650 grants have been disbursed for a total of $14 million to organizations located in 58 counties and serving all 64 counties.

 

View the list of grantees in the fourth round here. View the list of donors here

6/2/20

Today, Governor Polis announced that the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will mobilize more than 800 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members to support the State of Colorado’s COVID-19 response. The national service members will conduct contact tracing and other work important to helping Colorado reopen and getting people back to work. As the state increases COVID-19 testing and continues reopening in phases, tracing the contacts of each positive case will be key to containing the virus and keeping our economies open.

 

“We are thrilled to have these AmeriCorps members join Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Contact tracing is an important part of containing the spread of this virus and ensuring that Coloradans can keep themselves, and those around them, as safe as possible. The work of these members will be critical to the health and safety of Coloradans, as well as next steps for our economy.”

 

CNCS, the federal agency for volunteering and service, will support the initiative by redeploying AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) members and providing nearly $2 million in federal funding for new AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Summer Associates and Senior Corps volunteers.

 

“Colorado is the proud home to thousands of AmeriCorps members and this support will be critical in our efforts to contain the virus,” said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera. “Colorado’s AmeriCorps members have already been hard at work in helping their communities during this global pandemic, and we are excited to partner with CNCS on this new effort.”

 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will arrange for training and determine assignments for all AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers. Gary Community Investments has secured the technology and equipment necessary for the virtual service required by the unique circumstances. CDPHE will partner with the Colorado Community Tracing Collaborative to provide training for the national service corps members and volunteers. The collaborative consists of non-profit advocates, governmental agencies, hospitals, and university organizations coordinating efforts to hire, train, and deploy a comprehensive contact tracing and navigator workforce. For more information please contact the collaborative at ContactTracing@trailhead.institute. Serve Colorado, the Governor’s Commission on Community Service, will host the webpage for these efforts creating a single point of entry for individuals interested in signing up to serve. More information can be found at colorado.gov/servecolorado.

 

Initially, the service assignments for the positions announced today will be for remote work, as the members help provide temporary surge capacity for the initial phases of contact-tracing. This surge capacity allows the State to better support the Local Public Health Authorities who are on the front lines of the battle with COVID-19.

 

Details of the project include:

  • 300 AmeriCorps NCCC members, based out of the Southwest Region Campus in

Aurora, will start immediately

  • 350 VISTA Summer Associates will be hosted by the Community Resource Center in Denver and Conservation Legacy in Durango, both existing AmeriCorps VISTA projects

  • 100-200 additional Senior Corps volunteers will join the Senior Corps RSVP projects at

Cultivate and Volunteers of America, Colorado Branch in Denver.

 

“I’m proud that, working hand-in-hand with local partners, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps will help Colorado respond to COVID-19,” said Barbara Stewart, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “In moments of crisis, Americans have always come together to serve those who need help. United, there is no problem we can’t tackle.”

 

"We at Gary are proud to work in partnership with the state and AmeriCorps to address this crisis and get Coloradans safely back on their feet. We're excited to show the country what can happen when we come together to solve big problems," said Gary Community Investments CEO Mike Johnston. 

 

The AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers included in this project will join the many who, despite the obstacles presented by social distancing, have acted quickly and creatively to continue their critical work in new ways, or pivot to meet emerging needs. Each

year, more than 2,100 AmeriCorps members and 4,700 Senior Corps volunteers serve in the state at more than 800 locations.

 

Organizations are currently recruiting for the new positions announced today, the first of which begin on June 22. Those who serve as VISTA Summer Associates will earn a stipend and an education award at the end of their service. For more information on requirements and details on how to apply visit www.colorado.gov/servecolorado.

6/2/20

Governor Jared Polis today provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and discussed Safer at Home and In the Vast, Great Outdoors. The Governor also addressed the senseless murder of George Floyd and demonstrations in Denver and across the country. 

 

“Our state has some of the most beautiful natural open spaces in the world and we want Coloradans to safely enjoy our vast, great outdoors. While we are all still safer at home, we are also able to practice better social distancing in our great outdoors than in confined indoor spaces,” said Gov. Polis.  

 

“What happened to George Floyd was not only wrong, it was brutal. It was inhumane. It was murder,” Governor Polis continued. “But the reality is that this is much larger than the need to hold one officer and others accountable. It’s about a pattern of injustice and unfair treatment that Black Americans and communities of color have endured, not only in our criminal justice system, but in every area of American society. We need to listen to the voices of those who are crying out for reform, and we need to take action. To those peacefully protesting, I want you to know that I see you, I hear you and I grieve with you. And more importantly, I want to work with you. Spray paint can be power washed, and windows can be fixed, but the black lives taken can’t be replaced or brought back, and the pain and injustices that our black community members have suffered will take years and decades to repair. I am ready, willing, and eager to be your partner in that work.”

 

The Governor provided an update on Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors, encouraging Coloradans to enjoy the state’s incredible outdoor spaces, where people are better able to follow social distancing requirements. The level of risk for outdoor activities is low enough that older Coloradans and those with underlying conditions are now able to go outside and participate in Colorado’s natural beauty. Everyone should continue wearing a mask and following social distancing requirements while outdoors. 

 

The Governor also discussed the levels of risk Coloradans can be exposed to through various activities. Staying home is considered low risk, outdoor activities is considered a moderate risk, outdoor gatherings are a higher risk, and indoor gatherings are the highest risk. 

 

The state is also opening up playgrounds and swimming pools at limited capacity, and has also released draft guidance on reopening houses of worship, certain forms of outdoor recreation and personal recreation, and updates to the child care and personal services guidances. The state is currently soliciting feedback, which can be submitted here. Final versions will be released on Thursday.

 

Gov. Polis today announced that Colorado is now running 7,000 - 8,000 tests per day. The state now believes it is capturing 50% of symptomatic cases, up from 33% and growing. 

 

In addition, Gov. Polis announced a new partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), who will mobilize more than 800 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members to support the state’s COVID-19 response through contact tracing and other associated work.

 

Contact tracing means following up with individuals who came into contact with an infected individual to ensure they get tested and quarantine themselves if necessary. 300 AmeriCorps NCCC members, based out of the Southwest Region Campus in Aurora, will start immediately. 350 VISTA Summer Associates will be hosted by the Community Resource Center in Denver and Conservation Legacy in Durango, both existing AmeriCorps VISTA projects, with 100-200 additional Senior Corps volunteers to join in Denver.

 

With more than one thousand contact tracers working in Colorado, the state will be able to address outbreaks more quickly, which will reduce infections and save lives. 

 

Organizations are currently recruiting for the new positions announced today, the first of which begin on June 22. Those who serve as VISTA Summer Associates will earn a stipend and an education award at the end of their service. For more information on requirements and details on how to apply visit www.colorado.gov/servecolorado

 

View the full news conference

6/1/20

Gov. Polis today signed an Executive Order, transitioning from Safer at Home to Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors.

 

“Our state has some of the most beautiful natural open spaces in the world and we want Coloradans to enjoy our vast, great outdoors. While we are all still safer at home, we are also able to practice greater social distancing in our great outdoors than in confined indoor spaces,” said Governor Jared Polis. “It may feel like we are getting back to normal, but the virus is still here, and it could surge back the moment we let our guard down. We are still far from normal. Coloradans have to remain diligent, and must continue staying home or in the great outdoors away from others as much as possible, wearing masks when we leave the house, and washing our hands. Over these next few weeks, each and every one of us has a responsibility to protect ourselves and others, especially as we begin venturing out onto our trails and open space.”

 

“And for anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms, it’s extremely important to not go to work or hang out with others and to get tested. Testing is free, easy, and quick at 47 state-supported, community testing sites across the state including at the Pepsi Center in Denver,” Gov. Polis added. 

 

“Colorado has millions of acres of accessible federal land, municipal parks, State parks, State and county open space, and other accessible areas that allow for stronger Social Distancing in our great outdoors. Coloradans should Stay at Home or in the great outdoors away from others as much as possible and continue to limit social interactions, remain at least six feet from others not in their household, and wear non-medical facial coverings in public,” the Executive Order reads. 

 

Previously, high-risk Coloradans, those above 65 or with underlying health conditions, were required to stay home unless absolutely necessary. With this Executive Order, those individuals are now encouraged to also enjoy Colorado’s outdoor spaces at a safe social distance, in addition to staying at home as much as possible. This Executive Order also directs the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to issue a corresponding Public Health Order.

 

CDPHE is also releasing draft guidance on houses of worship, outdoor recreation, personal recreation, and updates to the child care and personal services guidances. Playgrounds and swimming pools can open at limited capacity and the Governor encourages people to have safe fun outdoors away from others. CDPHE is soliciting input from industry and key stakeholders on the draft guidance, and comments are due by Wednesday, at 12:00pm. Final versions will be released Thursday, June 4, 2020. CDPHE also released guidance for short-term rentals, allowing them to reopen as of June 1, 2020. Guidance issued under Safer at Home is still in effect unless updated by this Executive Order or under CDPHE.

© 2018 Susan Lontine