Polis on the pandemic: ‘The worst it’s ever been’
Holiday gatherings to be avoided, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis urged on Friday
With 5,143 new cases as of early Friday afternoon and already 2,355 dead among Coloradans, a new November surge of Covid-19 cases has proven to be “the worst it’s ever been,” said Gov. Jared Polis.
“Our heart goes out to the survivors, the family members of those who were lost,” Polis said during a statewide satellite Covid-19 update Friday. “Colorado, sadly along with the rest of the nation, continues on its upward trend.”
Polis, who raised Garfield County’s Covid-19 threat level to orange Thursday, urged everyone in Colorado to now avoid personal gatherings, cut down on running basic errands and consider ordering restaurant delivery. He urged everyone to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“Do it virtually, instead of in person,” Polis said of family gatherings moving forward over the next two weeks.
Level orange – or “high risk” – allows restaurants and retail shops within the county to operate at a capacity of 50% or less in Garfield County, with outdoor seating at restaurants limited to 10 people or less, six feet apart. Public gatherings, meanwhile, are limited to 10 people or less and all liquor stores close at 10 p.m., among many other restrictions.
Newly implemented changes to indoor dining, capacity in gyms and “making sure that people don’t socialize with people outside their household,” Polis said the state hopes will change the trajectory of the contraction rate.
Garfield County alone, as of Thursday, sees an average 28.4 new cases reported per day. Meanwhile, One in 49 Coloradans have the virus, Polis noted. More than 250,000 Americans have died since the pandemic began.
“It’s in your community,” he said. “It’s in every community.”
More than half of cases statewide are people in their 20s and 30s, age groups that now suffer the largest number of new cases out of any other age group in Colorado, are asymptomatic, said Polis. Meanwhile 40% of positive Coloradans in their 40s are also asymptomatic.
Joining in on the governor’s address was Marisa Duran, a healthcare worker at Grand River Health Clinic West in Battlement Mesa who recently recovered from a Covid-19 infection. Even as a healthcare worker, she said it was difficult to pin exactly where she contracted the virus.
“We don’t really know what we’re walking into in the grocery stores or at work,” she said. “So it’s very difficult to say where you’re getting this from or from who you are getting it.”
Duran said her symptoms hit her abruptly on Oct. 27.
“They really just hit me really, really quick, without really any warning,” she said. “All I mainly had was a lot of body pain. It really wasn’t much aches, but it was body pain more in the back area.”
At first, Duran said she never thought she would test positive for Covid-19. But the mother of two children was soon bedridden between 4-5 days, her sense of taste and smell lost.
Grand River physician Dr. Alan-Michael Vargas, also joined the Governor’s call conference Friday, said it’s easy working in the rural Western Slope to imagine that urban areas are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19.
Over the past few weeks, however, Vargas said he’s spent hours, dressed in scrubs, in respiratory clinics, “caring for patients in our communities.”
“I see my neighbors, my coworkers and my families as I navigate through a barrage of emotions in this clinic, stymied from a new stuffy nose, body aches or a simple cough,” he said. “This is what we’re seeing and everyone is worried… ‘Do I have this virus?’”
Echoing Polis’ advisories, Vargas said that wearing a mask, socially distancing and minimizing exposure to others will help reduce people’s risk in contracting Covid-19.
And, with Thanksgiving fast approaching, Vargas also said people avoiding family gatherings “will matter.”
“The holidays have arrived, and usually what comes with that are large family gatherings, but the best thing we can do for our families at this time is to minimize your risk and stop the spread within our families, our communities and our homes,” he said.
So far, Garfield County has seen 1,776 positive Covid-19 cases. Of which, the Hispanic community, which comprises just 30% of the population, makes up for 57.57% of all cases countywide.
Asked what the state’s doing to create more outreach to the Hispanic community amid the spike, Polis said the state has put out communications efforts in both Spanish and Engilcing, including in the Western Slope. He said the state also communicates through Hispanic media and social media outlets.
“I think it’s particularly important in multigenerational Hispanic households to make sure that people know what they need to do to keep their aunt, their uncle and the grandma safe. And the best thing they can do is avoid socializing with people outside their household, taking all the precautions that you possibly can at work and wearing the mask when you’re around others.”
Polis said once a vaccine is approved by the FDA, he estimated Colorado frontline workers will receive the vaccine by December. The rest of regular Colorado residents will then receive a vaccine sometime early 2021.
“The next few weeks are absolutely critical,” he said. “We’re nearing the end of the most horrific pandemic in a century, and we have to bear down these next couple months to get there, with lives intact, the economy intact, jobs intact… (let’s) do it for ourselves, do it for our loved ones, do it for our frontline workers, do it for everybody trying to keep our community safe.”
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