6/30/20

Governor Jared Polis today extended the Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors Executive Order, and provided an update on Colorado’s next steps during the COVID-19 pandemic, introducing more details on the Protect Our Neighbors framework. The Governor was joined by Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment; Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s top epidemiologist; Joni Reynolds, the Gunnison County Public Health Director; and Jason Vahling, the City and County of Broomfield Public Health Director.

 

“Protect Our Neighbors will allow Colorado to respond more swiftly and effectively at the community level in the event of another surge of cases. We live in a diverse state with cities, booming suburbs, small resort towns, and rural areas with plenty of wide-open spaces. Each community is having their own unique experience with this virus. Going forward, we want to increase our ability to tackle outbreaks at a community level and only issue statewide orders when absolutely necessary,” said Gov. Polis. “We are making some much-needed investments in our local public health agencies, so they can contain and quell an outbreak before it gets out of control. The fate of Colorado in both virus suppression and economic recovery is largely in the hands of Coloradans. If we continue taking the critical steps of staying at home, wearing masks when leaving the house and following social distancing practices, then we will get through this together.”
 

The Governor did not announce any additional relaxing of restrictions today, but described the new phase: Protect Our Neighbors that will give local communities more freedom to provide economic opportunity while ensuring that they have the necessary public health capacity. The introduction of the new phase means that different parts of the state could be at different phases of reopening, based on local conditions and capabilities. 
 

“Each day, we make progress to build the capacity of our public health system -- from ramping up statewide testing sites to onboarding new case investigators and contact tracers systemwide, to identifying creative ways to aggressively acquire PPE. I am proud of the team at CDPHE who have stood strong during this very difficult time, and I’m grateful for our local public health partners who are leading the response against COVID in their communities,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment. “It is important that Coloradans don’t let up now, and this new phase - Protect Our Neighbors - isn’t just words. It means we all accept personal responsibility for the things we can do every day to keep ourselves and others healthy.” 
 

Moving forward, communities that can demonstrate strong public health and health care systems, paired with low virus levels, can take on more control over their reopening plans. In order to reopen to this greater extent, communities must have: 

  • Low virus prevalence; 

  • Health care capacity to handle a surge; and  

  • Strong public health capacity to contain outbreaks and surges locally, including the ability to test, track, and trace.
     

In order to qualify for Protect Our Neighbors, a county (or region) must do two things:

  • Certify qualification according to the scientific metrics; and

  • Submit a mitigation and containment plan on what the county or region will do if they fall out of compliance with any of the metrics. This containment plan must be accompanied by letters of support from local elected leaders including county commissioners and mayors, the hospitals that serve that community, law enforcement, county emergency management, local public health, and if applicable, tribes.

 

The certification process will begin next week. To learn more about how a community can qualify, click here

 

Communities in Protect Our Neighbors will be able to permit all activities to occur at 50 percent of pre-pandemic capacity, with at least six feet between non-household members and no more than 500 people in one setting at a time. Local communities may issue more detailed guidelines or public health orders for different settings, so long as the capacity does not exceed these caps. 
 

The Governor also discussed funding and support for local governments as Colorado looks to move into Protect Our Neighbors. In total, the state is investing $346 million in state and local capacity, with $75 million going directly from the state to Local Public Health Agencies. Gov. Polis also announced two new sources of available funding: a Planning Grant or Infrastructure Strengthening Grant. 
 

All counties or local public health agencies can apply for a Planning Grant of up to $50,000. If counties have already identified infrastructure needs, they may apply for Infrastructure Strengthening Grants, with a maximum state award of $150,000 and a maximum total grant of $300,000. These grants will require local matching funds and can be spent on investments such as technology, community resource coordination, communication activities to increase compliance with the public health orders, funding for community-based partners and cultural brokers, and enhanced prevention and containment efforts.

 

Governor Polis announced the closure of bars. Bars that have taken steps to open as restaurants may continue to operate in-person service, so long as they have patrons seated with their own party only in set seating, spaced six feet apart, and with no mingling. Bars are permitted to sell alcoholic beverages to-go for takeout or delivery consumption if the alcoholic beverages are sold with food. All of the guidelines previously in place around social distancing still apply. Bars may still operate if open under a county variance pursuant to the terms of that county variance. More information can be found in the Governor’s Executive Order.

 

View the Governor’s presentation. Watch the full news conference on the Governor’s Facebook page

 

6/29/20

 

Governor Jared Polis signed Executive Orders in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. 


The Governor extended an Executive Order allowing food trucks to operate at Colorado’s rest areas to support truckers and the movement of commercial vehicle activities.

 

The Governor also amended and extended an Executive Order ordering the temporary suspension of certain statutes concerning taxpayer filing requirements for certain taxable property due to COVID-19. 

 

6/27/20

 

Governor Jared Polis signed Executive Orders today in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

 

The Governor signed an Executive Order directing the Colorado Department of Human Services to access federal funds for child care services during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure stability and consistency for child care providers and protect the vital role they play for children and families.

 

Gov. Polis signed an Executive Order extending the use of telehealth services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Governor extended an Executive Order concerning the temporary suspension of certain requirements preventing the issuance of marriage licenses, and extended an Executive Order concerning the suspension of certain regulatory statutes

 

The Governor extended an Executive Order ordering the temporary suspension of certain regulatory statutes concerning petition gathering for Unaffiliated and Independent candidates for office. 

 

6/24/20

 

Gov. Polis today provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and was joined by State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy to remind Coloradans about the importance of social distancing and wearing masks, especially with the upcoming 4th of July holiday. 
 

“It remains critical that Coloradans continue taking steps to protect themselves and others. Our state’s success thus far has been due to the actions and personal responsibility of Coloradans, and that will continue to be true,” said Governor Jared Polis. “As long as we continue to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines, we can avoid seeing cases climb like our neighboring states. As we continue to reopen, more of the responsibility is placed on the individual to do the right thing. I’m proud of how Coloradans have responded during this pandemic and believe we can continue to make the right choices moving forward.  As we plan to celebrate our nation’s birthday on July 4th and enjoy their summer, Coloradans should make plans in a safe way, with just their own family or one other family.”


 

The Governor discussed the risk levels associated with different activities. He encouraged Coloradans to get out into the state’s great outdoors and participate in low-risk activities like camping, hiking, biking, outdoor exercise and activities.

 

When deciding which activities they are comfortable participating in, Coloradans should ask themselves the following questions:

  • How many other people will be participating in this activity?

  • Is the activity outside?

  • Can I put distance between myself and others?

  • How long will the activity take?

  • Do I feel 100% healthy?

  • How will I get there? Biking, walking, and driving in a car are all safer than public transportation.

  • Do I live with someone who is more vulnerable to COVID-19, and would be at high risk if I happened to bring the virus home?

  • What is the value of this activity to me versus the risk I am taking?

 

Coloradans can visit www.covid19.colorado.gov/risks-benefits to assess the risk level of certain activities.

 

As Coloradans are spending more time outdoors, the state is reminding everyone to be responsible in Colorado’s natural spaces. Gov. Polis highlighted an initiative from the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) encouraging visitors to show care, not only for destinations but also for the people who call them home. With lines like “How about a ski between you and me?” and “Keep a mask in your pocket, in case you need to rock it,” the CTO is creating a fun and memorable way to remember these important steps. Learn more


Gov. Polis also highlighted a best practice being used by Eagle County and encouraged other counties to do the same. Eagle County has asked every hotel and short-term rental to give a letter to guests upon booking providing critical public health information. The letter asks all travelers to follow the “5 Commitments of Containment” while visiting Eagle County, which are:

  • I will maintain 6 feet of physical distance.

  • I will wash my hands often.

  • I will cover my face in public.

  • I will stay home when I am sick.

  • I will get tested immediately if I have symptoms.

 

Governor Polis today released guidance to allow outdoor visitation at residential care facilities in order to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19. Some of the most important standards:

  • The facility cannot have outdoor visitation if the facility had any recent positive cases or outbreaks and has not completed the required isolation period of 14 days. Facilities with active cases are not allowed to offer visits. 

  • All visits must be scheduled. Prior to the visits, facilities must provide information about COVID-19, and instructions for self-screening on the day of the visit, social distancing and mask-wearing, and details about the visit.

  • The visitor must be greeted outside at a designated area by facility staff, and the staff member will perform temperature check and symptom screening in accordance with current CDC guidelines. 

  • All visitors must wear a face mask or cloth face covering. All staff and the resident must wear a surgical or cloth mask unless doing so would inhibit the resident’s health.  

 

View the full guidance here

 

The Governor also signed Executive Order D 2020 113, allowing voluntary or elective surgeries and procedures to proceed under certain conditions.

 

The full news conference can be viewed on the Governor’s Facebook page

 

6/23/20

 

Gov. Polis today signed the following bills into law today and signed Executive Order in response to COVID-19. 

 

HB20-1413 - Small Business Recovery Loan Program Premium Tax Credits

SB20-222 - Use CARES Act Money Small Business Grant Program

HB20-1177- Enterprise Zone Statute Fixes Of Defects 

HB20-1208- Sunset Coal Mine Board Of Examiners

HB20-1345- Fiscal Year 2020-21 Legislative Appropriation Bill 

 

Video for the signings of HB20-1413 and SB20-222, can be viewed on the Governor’s Facebook page. The other bills were signed administratively. 

 

6/22/20

 

Gov. Polis today signed legislation that will provide relief and support to Coloradans during the COVID-19 pandemic and the FY20-21 Long Bill. 

 

HB20-1197 – 2-1-1 Statewide Human Services Referral System

HB20-1410 - COVID-19-related Housing Assistance

HB20-1411- COVID-19 Funds Allocation For Behavioral Health

HB20-1412 - COVID-19 Utility Bill Payment-related Assistance

HB20-1417 - Care Subfund In The General Fund

HB20-1422 - Food Pantry Assistance Grant Program

HB20-1360 - 2020-21 Long Bill

 

Visit the Governor’s Facebook page to see the full bill signings. 

 

6/19/20

 

The Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) released its quarterly economic forecast today. 

 

“This global pandemic has had a terrible impact on the economy and our way of life. Coloradans are resilient, innovative, and talented and we will get through this challenging time together. While we are taking cautious steps to rebuild our economy, we cannot let up in our shared efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. If Coloradans don’t wear masks in public or practice good social distancing and physical hygiene, then will see case counts rise as they have in other states and the economy will further suffer,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “I look forward to working with communities, lawmakers, and anyone to ensure the state’s economy and workforce can bounce back stronger than before.”

 

Due to COVID-19, Colorado lost more than 300,000 jobs in March and April, and the unemployment rate rose to 11.3 percent. Despite these dire numbers, the state’s large professional services sector is helping Colorado weather the COVID-19 recession better than most other states. However, other critical industries, such as tourism and energy, have been severely impacted and are expected to face longer recoveries.

 

General Fund revenue is expected to fall by 4.9 percent in FY 2019-20 and by another 10.5 percent in FY 2020-21. The General Fund revenue forecast was revised up by net of $216.9 million over the forecast period, primarily due to technical and legislative changes that increase revenue.


With these updated revenue projections, the General Fund reserve is projected to end FY 2020-21 $171.4 million above the statutory reserve amount of 2.86 percent of appropriations based on preliminary analysis of legislation passed by the General Assembly.


After two months of precipitous declines, the U.S. economy appears to have begun to grow slightly in May and June, though from extremely low levels. The U.S. economy added more than 2.5 million jobs in May after losing more than 22 million in March and April, and retail sales grew by 7.9 percent after declining by 16 percent in April. Despite this improvement, the recovery is expected to be slow and contingent upon public health conditions and federal relief measures.

 

View the forecast.

 

6/18/20

 

Governor Jared Polis today provided an update on Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and praised Coloradans for their work to continue social distancing. 

 

“Colorado is the only state in the western region of the country right now that is seeing a steady decline in case counts, but if we are not careful by wearing masks and staying six feet from others when possible, we will lose that status here and nobody wants to see those trendlines go up,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We are just a few steps ahead of this virus, and as soon as we let up our case counts will begin to rise just like some of our neighboring states. I’m proud of how Coloradans are doing, but we have to remain vigilant - wear a mask when leaving the house, wash your hands and stay six feet from others because this pandemic is far from over.”

 

Gov. Polis today announced that the state is launching a new website that will serve as a one-stop-shop for information about telehealth. The Health at Home Colorado website, available in English and Spanish, is intended to encourage visitors to engage in virtual visits with their provider, through their insurance, or find free resources for accessing virtual care. In addition, the state has also created a toolkit with campaign materials that can be used by community partners to increase the awareness of virtual care. To learn more, visit www.healthathome.colorado.gov. 

 

The Governor praised workers at long-term care facilities for their difficult work to protect our state’s most vulnerable. In particular, the Governor highlighted the Columbine Health Systems, which is the first long-term care facility to experience an outbreak in Colorado and now has zero positive tests and zero residents with symptoms.
 

The Governor also applauded the Supreme Court’s ruling protecting DREAMers and encouraged Congress to take up comprehensive immigration reform. Colorado’s DREAMers and immigrant community are a critical part of the state’s fabric and contribute immensely to the economy. View the Governor’s statement on today’s Supreme Court decision. 

Watch the news conference. 

 

6/16/20

 

Governor Jared Polis took additional action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to support election cybersecurity in Colorado. 

 

The Governor signed Executive Order D 2020 105, to extend certain state income tax payment deadlines for all Colorado taxpayers to quickly provide relief from payment and penalties due to COVID-19. 

 

Gov. Polis also signed Executive Order D 2020 106, activating the Colorado National Guard to assist with election cybersecurity defense efforts during the 2020 state primary election on June 30, 2020.  “The Colorado Secretary of State has requested that the Colorado National Guard Defensive Cyber Operations Element provide election cybersecurity support during the 2020 state primary election,” the Executive Order reads.

 

“We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect our elections system for all political parties in the upcoming primary,” said Governor Polis. “Not only do we want Colorado to be a state where voting is quick and easy, but we want to make sure it is secure.”
 

“I’m happy to have the Colorado National Guard’s Cyber Defense Force join our exceptional Election Security team for the June 30 State Primary,” said Secretary of State Jena Griswold. “Thanks to this partnership, Colorado continues to lead the nation in election security while creating a truly formidable group of experts working on behalf of Colorado voters.”

 

6/14/20

 

Gov. Polis signed Executive Order D 2020 104, temporarily suspending certain statutes to maintain eligibility for Coloradans enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Basic Health Plan.

 

“This Executive Order extends Executive Order D 2020 068, which ensures compliance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act by temporarily suspending certain statutes to allow for continued eligibility or benefits status for those individuals enrolled in Medicaid as of March 18, 2020 and to prevent any changes in eligibility, and directs the Executive Director of the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing  (HCPF) to delay the collection of annual fees for those enrolled in Colorado’s Children’s Basic Health Plan,” the Executive Order reads. 

 

6/13/20

 

Gov. Jared Polis signed Executive Orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The Governor took action and signed Executive Order D 2020 101, ordering state agencies to help prevent evictions of tenants economically harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. 


Gov. Polis also signed Executive Order D 2020 099, which allows the Department of Local Affairs to continue to provide rental and mortgage assistance and encourages local governments to loosen housing restrictions.  In addition, the Governor signed an Executive Order continuing expedited unemployment insurance claims processing and one providing relief to public utility customers affected by COVID-19.

 

The Governor signed Executive Order D 2020 103, temporarily suspending certain statutes around signature collection for unaffiliated and independent candidates who are required to file petition with the Secretary of State under Title 1, and authorizing the Secretary of State to create temporary rules to allow for mail and email signature collection. 

 

Gov. Polis also signed an Executive Order ordering the temporary suspension of certain regulatory statutes concerning the signature collection for ballot issues and authorizing the Secretary of State to create temporary rules to allow for mail and email signature collection.

 

 

6/12/20

 

Gov. Polis signed Executive Orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Gov. Polis signed Executive Order D 2020 095 extending changes to the 2020 primary election to limit in-person contact while allowing the elections to proceed safely and without interruption to the Secretary of State’s operations. 

 

The Governor also extended an Executive Order concerning the temporary suspension of open burning and extended an Executive Order expanding the health care workforce for hospitals and other inpatient treatment facilities.  

 

 

6/12/20

 

Gov. Polis and the Colorado COVID Relief Fund today announced the fifth round of grants awarded to organizations working with Coloradans impacted by COVID-19. 

 

“We’re proud to continue supporting Coloradans and organizations who are focused on helping those who have been impacted by COVID-19,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Coloradans have done a great job of slowing the spread of the virus by wearing masks, washing their hands and staying home as much as possible, but the virus is still very much part of our communities. Coloradans have never shied away from a challenge, and I’m proud of the way so many people have stepped up during this challenging time to help others.”

 

In the fifth round, the COVID Relief Fund awarded $938,625 in Impact to 50 grantees and $1,323,922 in Recovery to 65 grantees for a total of $2,262,547 to 115 grantees. The Relief Fund has distributed $16.3 million to 765 grantees through five rounds. 

 

View the complete list of grantees here and the list of applicants through the first five rounds here. View the list of donors here. 

 

6/11/20

 

Governor Jared Polis today provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19, where he emphasized reasons why Coloradans should continue wearing masks and also announced the Can Do Colorado Community Challenge. 

 

“In order for Coloradans to enjoy more of the Colorado we all love, we have to continue wearing masks whenever we leave the house. When we pair social distancing with wide-spread mask-wearing, we put ourselves in a position for success,” said Governor Polis. “This isn’t just about protecting ourselves, it’s about protecting those around us and containing the virus in our communities. I’m proud of the way many businesses are stepping up and getting creative in serving their customers in as safe a manner as possible, it’s a great example of the Colorado spirit. We need more of that innovation and are encouraging more businesses to look at how they can operate in a way that prioritizes the safety of staff and customers.”

 

Gov. Polis today announced the Can Do Colorado Community Challenge, an extension of Can Do Colorado which spotlights and supports innovative businesses that are finding creative ways to continue serving their customers safely, implementing teleworking, and reducing in-person interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Can Do Colorado Community Challenge calls on local governments and businesses to continue finding safe and sustainable opportunities to jumpstart the local economy and implement these practices until a cure or vaccine is created. The state wants to continue to champion things like teleworking whenever possible; equity for essential workers; and helping communities provide safe spaces for all to walk, bike, dine, and conduct business.

 

Various departments and organizations throughout state government are offering a wide array of resources, including grant funding and expert technical assistance to help reopen the economy safely while making progress towards important health goals. 

 

Partnering departments and organizations include the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Energy Office, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the Regional Air Quality Council, and the Denver Regional Council of Governments. To learn more about the Challenge and how each agency is supporting, read the fact sheet

 

The State of Colorado wants to hear first-hand stories about how the behavioral health system is impacting young Coloradans. Coloradans ages 12-26, will have the chance to fill out a survey detailing their mental health experiences. The survey will close on June 22. Given the well-documented uptick in mental and behavioral health issues among young people, it’s more critical than ever to have folks share their stories. In 2019, Gov. Polis directed the Colorado Department of Human Services to spearhead Colorado’s Behavioral Health Task Force to improve Colorado's behavioral health system. Fill out the survey here or at www.coloradoyouthsurvey.com.    

 

Gov. Polis also reminded Coloradans to fill out their Census form, whether it’s the one that came through the mail or filled out online. The Census is critical to getting an accurate count of how many people live in the U.S., for determining Colorado’s representation in Congress, and funding from the federal government that every Coloradan benefits from.

 

Governor Polis highlighted the story of an employee at the Colorado Department of Transportation who contracted COVID-19 and spent 34 harrowing days in the hospital before being able to return home. Mike Clark was in a coma for two weeks, and after waking up he needed physical therapy to swallow and walk again. Mike said, “If there is anything that should prompt you to wear a mask at work, it is the thought of lying in bed, in a hospital, atop a bed pan.” The Governor reiterated Mike’s message reminding all Coloradans to take the simple steps of wearing masks and following social distancing requirements to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. 

 

View the Governor’s news conference

 

6/9/20

 

Gov. Polis today provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and highlighted the importance of staying home. The Governor was joined remotely by Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera, who like many Coloradans has been working remotely during the pandemic. 

 

“Coloradans must remember that we are not out of the woods yet and this pandemic is still very much with us in our communities.  If we want to continue moving forward, we have to remain vigilant, and continue staying home as much as possible or in our great outdoors, and follow social distancing requirements like wearing masks and washing our hands,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I will continue working with the legislature on building a resilient response, from a health perspective and economic perspective, for Colorado in the face of this pandemic. We’re all in this together, and the way we’re going to get through it is by doing right by one another.”

 

“I know this is a difficult time for so many Coloradans, but it’s critical that we all continue taking the necessary precautions like wearing masks when leaving the house, washing our hands, and staying home as much as we can,” said Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera. “As a four-time cancer survivor and someone who is over 60, I fall into two risk categories and have been working remotely during the pandemic. Though I feel as strong and healthy as ever, I want to do everything I can to protect my family,myself and my community. It hasn’t been easy, and I know many others are going through something similar. We can cope by getting outdoors to exercise or doing Zoom calls with the grandkids. We also must remember that we are all together in this.”

 

The Governor also provided an update on the legislative session and thanked the Joint Budget Committee for their work on the state budget. Gov. Polis is focused on working with the legislature on building a resilient response, from a health and economic perspective, for Colorado in the face of the pandemic. This includes focusing on lowering health care costs and supporting businesses and workers who are struggling. The Governor expressed support for the legislature’s work around creating a loan relief fund, bolstering the state’s unemployment insurance program, and a more permanent sick leave policy. Gov. Polis also praised state lawmakers for being in the process of taking swift action in response to the hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans that are demonstrating against police abuse and structural racism.

 

Gov. Polis highlighted two organizations who are working with Coloradans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have received grants from the Colorado COVID Relief Fund for their work. 

 

The Governor highlighted GrowHaus, which serves as a source of fresh food in the Elyria-Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods of Denver, where there are few traditional grocery stores within walking distance for many residents. When COVID hit, GrowHaus received a massive increase in households looking for services. So they mobilized their entire team to start packing and delivering emergency food packages including dry goods, fresh fruit and vegetables for households in need across the area at no charge. Due to the help they’ve received from the COVID-19 Relief fund, they’re currently serving 2,500 Coloradans, and partnering with other local organizations like Bondadosa, Denver Food Rescue, and We Don’t Waste.

 

The Governor highlighted the River Valley Family Health Center, which is serving thousands of families in Delta, Montrose, and Olathe with high-quality, affordable health care. In response to the pandemic, they’ve stepped up IT support for telehealth to help slow the spread of the virus. They’ve also strengthened their routers because they know that not everyone has access to WiFi at home. Patients can now come to the parking lot and have a remote session if they don’t want to risk physically interacting with a doctor. They also offer testing for COVID-19 and ensure that everyone who gets tested gets follow-up behavioral health outreach.

 

To learn more about the Colorado COVID Relief Fund, visit www.helpcoloradonow.org

 

Gov. Polis signed Executive Order D 2020 094, amending and extending prior Executive Orders suspending certain regulatory statutes concerning juvenile justice, regional centers, and behavioral health due to COVID-19.

 

 

6/8/20

 

The State of Colorado today announced a partnership with Kinsa, a public health company working to help individuals and communities stop the spread of infectious illness and to help respond to the threat of COVID-19. The partnership will begin with a pilot program in three communities across the state, chosen based on demographic diversity, density, location, and illness spread. Through this pilot, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in alignment with local public health agencies, the Office of eHealth Innovation, and Kinsa, will distribute 15,000 Kinsa smart thermometers to families of first responders and essential workers in Aurora, Montrose, and Edwards.

 

“Our top priority is ensuring the health and safety of Coloradans. This exciting project, along with the Colorado COVID-19 Symptom Tracker, will help us detect and respond to outbreaks earlier and more efficiently,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Technological innovations are an important part of Colorado’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
 

Through this partnership, Colorado will significantly increase the use of Kinsa smart thermometers in the state to:

  • Develop a more detailed view of communities that are experiencing higher levels of illness in real-time through Kinsa’s aggregated population health insights; 

  • Deploy health resources, such as testing kits, first-responders, and personal protective equipment (PPE) exactly where they are most needed; 

  • Help guide Coloradans to the right services and care, to help them get better, faster; and, 

  • Direct community members to the Colorado COVID-19 symptom tracker to self-report symptoms and contribute to the state’s overall response.

 

“An early warning and early response system is essential infrastructure for any state looking to help identify hotspots of illness and react to outbreaks before they become epidemics, as we are facing with COVID-19,” says Inder Singh, founder and CEO of Kinsa. 

 

Kinsa created the first-ever connected thermometer to collect the information needed to track and predict infectious illness spread -- real-time, medically accurate, geographically-precise data on symptom onset, illness duration, severity and rate of transmission. The thermometer identifies symptoms at the first sign of illness. Users self-report their own personal data, which is then anonymized for public health use (if agreed to by the user). As a result, Kinsa’s population health insights offer the earliest indicators of the potential of spreading illness, and therefore, the earliest opportunity to respond.

 

Geographic illness trends can be viewed at www.healthweather.us and the Colorado COVID-19 Symptom Tracker.

 

For more information on Kinsa, please visit www.kinsahealth.com. State and local governments interested in distributing thermometers to their residents can contact sales@kinsahealth.com.  For more insight on Colorado’s statewide response, please visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/

 

6/8/20

 

Gov. Polis today sent a letter to the Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention requesting assistance in ensuring Colorado is prepared to respond during flu season, and can prevent the combined impact of flu and COVID-19 from overwhelming the health care system. 
 

“One of the most significant threats to our continued progress is flu season.  My administration has been working diligently to increase our vaccination rates. But we need to do even more this coming flu season especially among older Coloradans and our vulnerable residents, to reduce the number of flu victims in need of hospitalization and free up those beds for COVID patients if needed. This is where we need your help,” the letter reads. 

 

“Flu season is going to tax our PPE supplies as those giving vaccinations are going to need medical grade masks, perhaps shields and gloves to ensure they are protected from COVID-19. While we have much better access to PPE than we did, we are going to need help obtaining more,” the letter continues. 

 

Read the Governor’s letter.

 

6/5/20

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 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