News and Updates
Gov. Polis Sends Letter to Vice President Pence
Requesting Additional PPE to Address Shortage
DENVER - Gov. Jared Polis discussed Colorado’s personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage at a news conference on Wednesday, April 1. On March 28, Governor Polis sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting additional PPE and ventilators to address the severe shortage Colorado is facing.
“We are facing a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies to protect our health care workers and first responders. Colorado’s COVID-19 death rate is rising faster than any other state right now; the pandemic is spreading so fast that lags in testing are masking the true conditions experienced by Coloradans across the state,” Governor Polis wrote.
As reflected in requests to FEMA and HHS, Colorado needs:
10,000 ventilators, and associated equipment and pharmaceuticals
2,000,000 N95 masks
4,460,000 surgical masks
880,000 face shields
4,300,000 pair gloves -- small, medium, and large
“I am asking that you increase the ventilators and PPE that is being sent to Colorado for this critical moment, to help us safely cross the bridge ahead of us until we can start to reap the benefits of our other unprecedented procurement and manufacturing efforts,” the Governor’s letter concludes.
Read Governor Polis letter to Vice President Pence here.
Gov. Polis Provides Update on State Response to COVID-19
DENVER - Gov. Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19 and discussed the predictive modeling that is guiding the public health decisions the state is making as well as the updated public health order that corresponds with the stay-at-home executive order.
“I continue urging my fellow Coloradans to stay home whenever possible. This global pandemic is not a competition about what you think you can get away with. The data we put forth today shows that staying home is crucial to saving lives. These are not statistics on a page, these are your neighbors, your friends, and even your family members,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “Our community and our economy will come out of this stronger than before but that means everyone must do their part.”
The Governor thanked Dr. Jon Samet, Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and his team who have been working hard to put together the modeling data in partnership with the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The Governor provided a slide by slide presentation for members of the media and the general public today. View the slides the Governor presented today here.
Gov. Polis and the Department of Health and Environment also updated the public health order corresponding with the stay-at-home executive order. The changes include:
Critical businesses must comply with a stay at home and social distancing requirements and should minimize staff to those who are critical to the functioning of the business.
Necessary travel now includes transporting children between separate households pursuant to a parenting plan or other agreement governing parental responsibilities and non-residents returning to their place of residence.
Essential government services now include airports, activities related to the conduct of elections, and local governments
Minimum basic operations now include filling online product orders and to process customer orders remotely.
Read the updated public health order here.
Today, the Governor also signed executive orders today allowing Coloradans to get their marriage licenses without going in person and allowing the state to access additional funds from the Disaster Emergency Fund. Click to view D 2020 018 and D 2020-014.
During the press conference, Gov. Polis continued to urge Coloradans to stay home and practice social distancing. He also urged employers to follow social distancing requirements and implement telework options or staggered work schedules to protect the health of their employees.
Watch today’s press conference here.
Gov. Polis: COVID-19 Relief Fund Accepting Grant Applications
DENVER - Last week, Governor Jared Polis announced the launch of joint efforts to raise relief funds and volunteer efforts to address this public health crisis.
Help Colorado Now has raised $7.7 million dollars from nearly 4,000 individuals, foundations and companies since the fund launched. More than 9,000 volunteers including 2,000 health care volunteers have signed up to date.
“This is exciting news at a tough time for our state, and this milestone could not have been achieved without the support and spirit of Coloradans,” said Gov. Polis. “This is an opportunity to reflect on what we can achieve when we work together and how we can help our fellow Coloradans and small businesses bounce back stronger than ever. I’m thankful for the support these efforts have received to date. Let’s all continue to rise to the challenge.”
The grant process has now begun and will be on a rolling basis. Those interested in applying for relief funds up to $25K can apply here.
Coloradans can donate or sign up to volunteer at www.HelpColoradoNow.org. The Colorado COVID Relief Fund's purpose is to raise funds and coordinate the allocation of those contributions. Funds raised will be used to support the needs of communities impacted by COVID-19 in both response and recovery. Organizations helping with the response to COVID-19 are now eligible to apply for funds.
The fund will support work in three categories: prevention, impact, and recovery efforts. This will include things like medical and cleaning supplies, food services, early childhood education, small business support, behavioral health services, and more. The fund will not provide direct assistance to individuals, but to community-based organizations providing direct assistance.
Coloradans who can’t donate money are encouraged to donate their time by volunteering. Many people have skills that can be applied during this time, especially former health care workers who could return to the workforce to assist with the demand. In addition to funding and volunteers, the Governor continues to encourage healthy donors to donate blood to prevent a shortage in Colorado. Coloradans can visit Vitalant.org or click here to find a blood drive or donation center in their area.
The Colorado COVID Relief Fund is hosted by the State of Colorado and Mile High United Way. The effort is co-chaired by Rick Sakpin and Roxane White. Additionally, the Colorado Health Foundation assisted in getting the application process up and running. The fund is overseen by a committee of community leaders from across Colorado and will be providing aid to support Colorado communities and organizations affected by the recent outbreak of COVID-19.
State Labor Department Implementing System Improvements Amid Overload
Volume continues to impact system, but benefit payments will not be reduced because of application issues
Please note: Daily UI claims numbers will no longer be available on a regular basis and will be released weekly on Friday. The IT staff pulling data are also working on improving the filing system and daily numbers are not feasible at this time.
Denver - The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s (CDLE) Unemployment Insurance (UI) system has been overwhelmed the last week due to an unprecedented increase in benefit demand as a result of COVID-19. CDLE is adding call center staff, implementing a new “last name” online filing system and revising web site content with answers to customer inquiries on filing errors.
““This morning alone, we had 186,000 attemtps to contact our call center. That number a week ago was 9,000,” says Joe Barela, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “All of our systems are overloaded - as are UI systems across the country - and we know frustration and anxiety is high. We are doing the best we can to navigate these uncertain times and want claimants to know their benefits will not be reduced due to any filing delays.”
On Monday, the department added 90 internal staff to the customer call center to provide immediate assistance. In addition, another 90 call center staff and document management staff will be increased over the course of the next two weeks through April 3rd. A new voluntary gating system that allows claimants access to file based on last name is now recommended, but will be mandatory later this week.
Claimants with last names that begin with A through M may file a claim on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays or after 12 noon on Saturday.
Claimants with last names beginning with N through Z may file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays or before 12 noon on Saturday.
New FAQs based on common questions and issues are also being updated daily. Online filers are encountering two common errors: one, on the eligibility screen and another on the employer verification screen. Claimants should save their application throughout the filing process and can return to it at a later time.
More information will be posted at coloradoui.gov as it becomes available.
Gov. Polis provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19. Yesterday he signed an executive order directing all of Colorado’s non-critical employers to reduce their in-person workforce by 50 percent. In accordance with the executive order, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has also issued a public health order.
“As long as I am in a position to lead Colorado’s response, I will continue to take bold steps and do everything in my power to protect our medical workers, limit the severity and duration of this crisis, and save the lives of Coloradans,” said Governor Jared Polis. “In the short term, Coloradans must heed this order and take this gravely and seriously. But my team is moving as fast as they can to build a new Colorado paradigm to ensure that we can look more like South Korea’s successful containment strategy, and less like the public health disaster that is crippling Italy right now. The virus is here in our communities and we need to respond. And in a vacuum of federal leadership, others need to step up and here in Colorado we are doing and will do just that.”
The executive order directs all employers to implement tele-work options to the greatest extent possible. If tele-work is not practical or possible, employers are encouraged to stagger work schedules to reduce the proximity of employees during work hours and to keep employees on payroll. This Executive Order does not apply to any employer that can certify that employees are no closer than six feet from one another during any part of their work hours.
The state as an employer will be meeting this requirement and less than half of non-24 hour facility jobs will be working from the office. This will start tomorrow, Monday, March 23, 2020.
The order takes effect on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at and is set to last through 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 10, 2020.
The critical workplaces that are exempt include:
Health care operations.
Critical Infrastructure, including utilities, fuel supply and transmission, public water, telecommunications, transportation, hotels, organizations that provide for disadvantaged people, and food supply chain.
Critical Manufacturing, including food, beverages, chemicals, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, agriculture.
Critical Retail, including grocery stores, liquor stores, farms, gas stations, restaurants and bars for takeout, marijuana dispensaries but only for medical or curbside delivery, hardware stores.
Critical Services, including trash and recycling, mail, shipping, laundromats, child care, building cleaning and maintenance, auto supply and repair, warehouses/distribution, funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries, animal shelters and rescues.
Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations.
Public Safety Services like law enforcement, fire prevention and response, EMTs, security, disinfection, cleaning, building code enforcement, snow removal, auto repair.
Vendors that Provide Critical Services or Products including logistics, child care, tech support, or contractors with critical government services.
“Critical Government Functions.”
On March 5, CDPHE’s public health laboratory confirmed the first presumptive positive COVID-19 test result in Colorado. Since then, the number of confirmed cases has continued to climb. Colorado needs to take these precautions for the preservation of public health and safety throughout our entire State and to ensure our healthcare delivery system can serve those who are sick.
Gov. Polis also launched the state’s Innovation Response Team (IRT) to bring together public and private sector resources and innovations to the state’s emergency response to the COVID-19 virus. The Innovation Response team’s initial focus is ramping up a mass testing program for the COVID-19 virus, creating a suite of services for citizens under isolation or quarantine, developing mobile and other technologies to help track the spread of the virus and support infected citizens, and developing locally-sourced alternatives for constrained critical medical supplies.
Matt Blumberg, a technology entrepreneur who founded and led Broomfield-based email technology company Return Path for the past 20 years, will serve as Interim Director. The Governor has also appointed Boulder-based Venture Capitalist Brad Feld as the Chairman of the IRT’s Private Sector Task Force. The IRT will be within the State’s Emergency Operations Center command structure and reports to Stan Hilkey, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety.
The Governor also thanked everyone who is stepping up in the, #DoingMyPartCO social media challenge, who has donated and signed up to volunteer at HelpColoradoNow.org and who has donated blood.
To view the news conference, please visit the Governor’s Facebook page.
Connect for Health Colorado has opened an emergency Special Enrollment period from Friday, March 20 thru Friday, April 3, 2020. Coloradans who are currently uninsured or about to lose coverage due to COVID-19 are able to get health insurance that starts April 1, 2020.
Gov. Polis Announces State’s Economic Response to COVID-19
DENVER - Today, Governor Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19 and announced a number of actions the state is taking to support Colorado’s economy.
“This virus has significantly impacted our economy here at home and across the world. We know this has been challenging for our local businesses and workers, and we are working to provide relief including deferral of taxes and suspension of evictions to Colorado families and individuals. These times are difficult, but they are temporary. Coloradans should rest assured that we will get through this together and we will be well-positioned for success when this all blows over,” said Governor Jared Polis.
The Governor announced that the state will be taking action to provide relief from evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs. The Governor is directing the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to work with state-chartered financial institutions to address the threat of residential and commercial foreclosures and displacement. The Governor is requesting that municipal and county governments refrain from using law enforcement to carry out evictions or foreclosures against Colorado families unless there is a threat to public safety. He is also encouraging banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions holding residential or commercial mortgages to follow the lead of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and halt foreclosures and related evictions that are due to income reductions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Governor is requesting these financial institutions consider providing a 90 day deferment of payment for all consumer loans, including residential and commercial mortgages, refinances, auto loans, and student loans, and small business loans. The state is also requesting that all public utilities suspend service disconnections for delayed or missed payments from residential and small business consumers.
The Governor is also requesting that all property owners and landlords refrain from removing tenants or mobile home owners without cause or as a result of late rent payment or minor tenancy violations through April 30, unless public safety requires it. Finally, he is asking that all property owners and landlords refrain from imposing a fee for the late payment or nonpayment of rent through the end of April.
The Governor will also be directing the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s (CDLE) Unemployment Insurance Division to expedite claim payments during this state of emergency. CDLE has seen a ten-fold increase of claims filed from last week to this week. Coloradans can visit the Department of Labor’s website at www.coloradoui.gov for more information. To learn more about these actions and read the executive order, click here.
Gov. Polis will also be extending the income tax payment deadline for all Colorado taxpayers by 90 days until July 15, 2020, without penalty or interest. This will be similar to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extension, but applies to any income tax payment, regardless of the amount. Unlike the federal government, the state is not imposing any caps on the amount of tax that can be deferred. In addition, the state will grant an extension for taxpayers who are required to make estimated income tax payments for the 2020 tax year. The Governor is also directing the Department of Revenue (DOR) to coordinate with local governments that choose to extend tax payment deadlines for property, sales and use taxes. To read the executive order, click here.
The Governor also announced the Governor’s Economic Stabilization and Growth Council. This group will be made up of community leaders from a variety of backgrounds and will serve as economic advisors to the Governor during this time.
Former Denver Mayor and U.S. Transportation Secretary Federico Peña will chair the Council.
Gary Arnold, Business Manager, Denver Pipefitters
Deborah Jordy, Executive Director, Science and Cultural Facilities District
Dick Monfort, Businessman, Owner/CEO, Colorado Rockies
Blair Richardson, CEO Bow River Capital
Jim Crowe, Former CEO, Level 3 Communications
Brad Feld, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder Foundry Group, Co-Founder Techstars
Dave Young, State Treasurer
Cary Kennedy, Governor’s Policy Advisor
Lauren Larsen, Office of State Planning and Budget (OSPB)
Joe Barela, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE)
Rick Garcia, Department of Local Affairs (DOLA)
Betsy Markey, Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT)
In addition, the Governor also signed an executive order allowing retailers licensed for the sale of on-premises alcohol consumption to sell, deliver or provide takeout for sealed alcoholic beverages if the customer also purchases food. The order also suspends the requirement of a physical examination for a medical marijuana card to be issued. The prohibition of online sales for retail marijuana stores is now suspended as well. Each of these are in effect until April 18, 2020. To read the executive order, click here.
Yesterday, the Governor announced that Colorado small businesses impacted by COVID-19 can now seek individual small business loans up to $2 million as part of the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Small businesses throughout all 64 counties may seek SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The SBA Disaster assistance provides low-interest federal loans for working capital to Colorado small businesses that have realized economic injury from COVID-19. Funding was appropriated through the US congressional Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. To learn more, visit OEDIT’s website.
To watch the full news conference, visit the Governor’s Facebook page.
Gov. Polis Secures Federal Loan Assistance for Colorado’s Small Businesses
Approval Unlocks Billions in Economic Recovery Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
DENVER – Colorado small businesses impacted by COVID-19 can seek individual small business loans up to $2M as part of the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Small businesses throughout all 64 counties may seek SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Governor Jared Polis announced that Colorado’s application for federal disaster area designation has been approved.
“The economic impact of COVID-19 has been felt across our state. We are committed to protecting public health and safety and will continue fighting to ensure the pain that Colorado’s small businesses are feeling is limited. This critical designation allows small businesses in all 64 Colorado counties to seek federal recovery loans that can help them through this challenging time. I thank the Colorado federal delegation for their efforts to help unlock this assistance,” said Governor Polis.
The SBA Disaster assistance provides low-interest federal loans for working capital to Colorado small businesses that have realized economic injury from COVID-19. Funding was appropriated through the US congressional Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.
“Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade is committed to helping our small businesses access these vital funds,” said Executive Director Betsy Markey. “Eligibility information, loan application links and emerging economic recovery resources can all be found at choosecolorado.com.”
“Small businesses are the fabric of our economy and their success is dependent on the ability to freely market products and services to communities across the state and world,” said SBA Regional Administrator Dan Nordberg. “Local small businesses are bearing the brunt of that impact and facing a severe decline in customer traffic. SBA’s top priority is to assist businesses adversely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and our Economic Injury Disaster Loans can be the working capital lifelines they need to weather this difficult time.”
Small businesses, private non-profit organizations, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises impacted by COVID-19 can seek federal loans to pay key needs such as fixed debts, payroll, and accounts payable.
About Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade
The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) works with partners to create a positive business climate that encourages dynamic economic development and sustainable job growth. Under the leadership of Governor Jared Polis, we strive to advance the State’s economy through financial and technical assistance that fosters local and regional economic development activities throughout Colorado. OEDIT offers a host of programs and services tailored to support business development at every level including business retention services, business relocation services, and business funding and incentives. Our office includes the Global Business Development division; Colorado Tourism Office; Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office; Colorado Creative Industries; Business Financing & Incentives division; the Colorado Small Business Development Network; Colorado Office of Film, TV & Media; the Minority Business Office; and the Colorado Innovation Network. Learn more at www.choosecolorado.com.