Colorado governor calls on citizens to change behavior as 7-day coronavirus case average surpasses April peak

Gov. Jared Polis during a July 28, 2020 news conference updating on Colorado's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Jared Polis during a July 28, 2020 news conference updating on Colorado's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.(Screengrab from July 28 news conference)
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 7:18 AM MDT
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DENVER (KKTV) - “I’m calling on Coloradans not to be stupid.”

Gov. Jared Polis pulled no punches Tuesday in urging citizens to scale back behavior that had led to a rise in cases over the past several weeks.

During his bi-weekly news conference Tuesday afternoon, he likened actions such as holding and attending large gatherings to driving while intoxicated.

“This is like drunk driving. You are risking the lives of innocent people in our state.”

After plummeting to an all-time low in mid-June, coronavirus cases have been steadily rising each week, with the most recent seven-day average hitting an all-time high over the weekend, above the previous peak in April. The state isn’t seeing a surge to the same level as many states in the South that are adding thousands of new cases a day, but the numbers are high nonetheless: Colorado added more than 900 cases in just the last two days.

It’s not all bad news, however: hospitalizations remain well below what they were in April and May, as do deaths as seen on the below chart (all state data can be viewed by clicking here):

covid deaths

The lower hospitalization and death rates are likely due to the average coronavirus patient in Colorado being younger than in the spring: 37 in mid-July versus 51 in March.

“Two hundred and fifty-one Coloradans are currently hospitalized,” Polis said. “So plenty of capacity there. There’s no issue on the hospital side. What we’ve always been concerned about these last two weeks is a trend, not the absolute numbers. The absolute numbers are sustainable. We just have to make sure they stay there and don’t continue the kind of increase we saw a week or two ago.”

That’s where Coloradans’ behavior comes in.

“The entire nation is in a challenging and perilous position as it comes to the virus. But we have time to turn it around -- I think we are turning it around. We will see in the coming weeks. But the biggest part in whether we turn it around is what Coloradans are doing and how we are behaving. Are we keeping a safe distance of 6 feet from others? I hope we are. Are we masking up when we leave the house? That means connecting virtually with others whenever possible. Are we protecting our most vulnerable? Are we washing our hands and practicing good hygiene?

“If Coloradans can live like we did in May instead of like we lived in July for the next month, we will be fine.”

Polis pointed out that in May, the stay-at-home order was no longer in effect and many places closed in March and April were back open, but the state still saw a downward trajectory in cases that continued into the first part of June.

He also called for action on a local level.

“Our state is not monolithic; of course different counties and communities are having different levels of the virus and different levels of the spread, so the response should be appropriate, targeted, and of course, different.”

Some counties are faring worse than others right now, including El Paso County, where transmission levels are among the highest in the state.

two-week incidence

“Red is where the alarm bell should be ringing the most, daily average of over 100 infections per 100,000 people.” (Note: Polis says the above chart has been adjusted for population and shows ratios in each county.)

Every county seeing case growth needs to take prompt and bold action to reverse the trend, Polis said. Those that can’t within two weeks risk losing any variances and reverting back to the state Safer at Home order. El Paso County’s two weeks ended Monday and their data is currently being analyzed by the state health department. Local leaders said cases continued to rise during that period, reportedly hitting an all-time high for the number of new cases in a single day on Monday.

And again, more action by Coloradans.

“The bottom line is, the key to success has always been and will continue to be a strong local response. Local beginning in your home, your decisions not to go to parties, not to go to events, not to hang out with others, wear masks in public, to stay home whenever you can.”

Polis said in the coming days and weeks the state should start to see the effects of the mask mandate and earlier end to “last call.”

Copyright 2020 KKTV. All rights reserved.

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