In The News

Amended Public Health Orders 

November 19, 2020

The following public health orders pertain  to the limitation of visitors and nonessential individuals in

skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, and assisted living residences; closing bars

and restaurants to in-person services; defining the terms of the Governor’s stay at home

requirements and critical business designations; requiring hospitals to report information relevant

to the COVID-19 response; and requiring the wearing of face coverings in the workplace and

urging their use in public. These measures all act in concert to reduce the exposure of

individuals to disease, and are necessary steps to protect the health and welfare of the public.

Additionally, in reducing the spread of disease, these requirements help to preserve the medical

resources needed for those in our communities who fall ill and require medical treatment, thus

protecting both the ill patients and the healthcare workers who courageously continue to treat

patients.

LIMITED RECOMMENCEMENT OF VOLUNTARY OR ELECTIVE SURGERIES AND PROCEDURES IN COLORADO

 
Today, Governor Polis was joined by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Senate President Leroy Garcia, and Speaker-designate Alec Garnett, to provide an update on the state and local response to the spike in COVID-19 positivity rates, cases, and hospitalizations. 
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been sounding the alarm on the trends observed here in Colorado. 
Rising case numbers, record hospitalizations and increasing positivity rates all indicate that there is more coronavirus in our communities now than there was in the spring.Last week, over the span of three days, we went from reporting:
  • 3,500 cases in one day; to 
  • 5,100 cases in one day; to 
  • 6,400 cases in just one day.
This isn’t just a problem in someone else’s community. It’s right here in our own backyard: 
  • Adams County: 1 out of every 58 people are infected.
  • Denver County: 1 out of every 64 are infected.
  • Arapahoe County: 1 out of every 83 people are infected.
Additionally: 
  • Hospitalizations are increasing: We now have over 1,300 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 -- more than we’ve ever had in the state. 
  • Hospitals are suffering a strain: 86% of ICU beds are full. 
  • Hospitals are preparing for surge capacity: We know that Parkview Hospital in Pueblo reached more than 100% of capacity yesterday, with more than 100 COVID patients admitted. Multiple patients had to be transferred to other facilities.
  • Staffing shortages: Today, more than 27 hospitals are reporting staffing shortages because of staff members sick with COVID.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions, and in Colorado, we help our own. 
In the spring, many Coloradans were buoyed by the support of one-time payments or unemployment benefits from the federal government. This federal safety net is not there today. 
That’s why a few weeks ago, Governor Polis took action in consultation with legislative leadership to provide a direct one-time $375 cash payment to over 435,000 Coloradans who have faced unemployment during the pandemic. 

Governor Polis Sounding the Alarm

November18, 2020

Governor Polis announced that he will be calling the legislature into a special session in the near future to provide immediate relief to the economic and financial hardships that many Coloradans are facing and could continue to face in the winter months.
The special session will include the following items: 
  • A small business relief package for those businesses that have been most impacted by capacity limits, including bars and restaurants, with direct aid and tax relief, in order to assist them in surviving the winter months; 
  • Housing and rental assistance for those struggling to make ends meet;
  • Support for child care providers to help them open and stay open to ensure parents can get back to work;
  • Expanding broadband access to students and educators to ensure students can learn online during periods of remote learning; and  
  • Support for Colorado food pantries and banks.
Taking further action, another letter will also be sent to the federal government with local governments urging Washington D.C. to pass another critical stimulus package to provide robust state and local relief to Coloradans. 
The Governor thanked Senate President Leroy Garcia, and Speaker-designate Alec Garnett, as well as other members of the leadership, and the Joint Budget Committeefor their partnership, and commitment to delivering relief now.

Changes to the Dial Framework
The Governor knows that many Coloradans have been doing their part. People have been wearing your masks, staying home as much as possible, and interacting with those only in their household. However, we need a much more drastic shift in behavior to slow the transmission of this virus.
That’s why CDPHE is making updates to the Red level of the COVID-19 dial that will ask Coloradans to avoid all interactions with people outside of their households to help lower transmission rates. The updated dial will be effective Friday, November 20, 2020. 
Counties in the Red level are considered at severe risk and will be subject to updated restrictions, including:
  • Indoor dining is temporarily closed. Restaurants and coffee shops can still offer take out and delivery, and they can offer outdoor dining with a last call at 8 p.m., but only to customers in groups with members of their own household. Barsremain closed.  
  • Gyms can operate at 10% capacity or allow up to 10 people per room with reservations. They can also operate outdoors in groups of up to 10 people.
  • In-person personal gatherings are not permitted
  • All gatherings between households of any size in any location, public or private should not be taking place while your county is in the severe risk phase.
  • All at-risk populations are recommended to stay at home
CDPHE has notified a number of counties that they will move to Level Red on Friday, November 20. 
 
Read the updated capacity chart for all six levels. The updated dial is pictured below.
 

Colorado COVID Surge Calls for Action 

November 9, 2020

Quick Links to Stay Up to Date

Topline Update

The State currently has 134,537 cases, 2,408 total deaths (2,178 are due to COVID), and 10,050 hospitalizations out of 1,351,495 completed tests. Every death is a tragedy. There are families and friends mourning across our state today and we keep them in our thoughts.  

In terms of new cases, 14 of the last 14 days have had an upward trend in the 7-day moving average of newly reported cases. And in terms of hospitalizations, 11 of the last 14 days have had an upward trend in the 7-day moving average of new hospitalizations. 

This case data is broken down by various categories, is updated daily, and can be found here. 

A new feature on your phone notifies you if you may have been exposed to someone contagious with COVID-19. By opting in through your iPhone device settings or downloading the app onto your Android device you can better protect yourself and your family.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, please get a free, quick, and easy test. Visitcovid19.colorado.gov/testing to find a testing site near you.


Statewide Mask Order Extended

Today, Governor Polis extended the statewide mask order for an additional 30 days, as mask wearing is a scientifically proven way to help slow the spread of the virus and help save lives.

At every opportunity, the Governor's office implores Coloradans to wear their masks; this action is critical to saving our economic livelihoods and public health.

Pfizer Vaccine

Governor Polis today provided an update on Colorado’s COVID-19 response and provided an overview of vaccine development progress. Early data from Pfizer suggests the vaccines in-development could be 90% effective against COVID-19. This is very encouraging news, but we are not in the clear yet.

Even when the vaccine is approved, there are many unknown variables, including: 

  • Number of doses Colorado will receive.

  • Amount of coverage for the entire population.

  • Amount of time to build up immunity (estimated 1-2 months between first and second vaccine dose).

Some doses may be available by the end of this year -- and more in 2021, but we do know that there will not be enough to cover the entire population of our state immediately. 

In the absence of a vaccine, we must utilize the tools available to us:

  • Wear a mask whenever you’re out;

  • Avoid social interactions with those outside your household;

  • Physically distance from others; and

  • Wash your hands regularly.

 The Governor hopes that these vaccine developments will inspire Coloradans to double down on what we know works best.

This virus is more prevalent than it’s ever been before in our state and nation. It can be difficult to harness the energy to continue doing your part by using the tools at our disposal outlined above, but we must buckle down and successfully reduce our social interactions.   


Alarming Trends

Over these last few weeks, we have continued to see alarming COVID trends here in Colorado and across the country. Our case numbers are rising and we’ve surpassed spring hospitalization levels. 

There are more COVID infections circulating in our communities now than there were in the spring; more than 1 out of 100 people in Denver are contagious with COVID-19

Last week, the Governor encouraged Coloradans to do three important things:

  1. Avoid all social interactions with people outside of your household for the month of November: Cancel your social plans. This small inconvenience now could mean saving the lives of your friends and family. 

  2. Wear a mask: Coloradans know that mask wearing is critical to changing these trends and moving forward. 

  3. Stay 6 feet apart from others: Keep your distance even when you’re wearing a mask. 

Our COVID response is only as good as Coloradans’ ability to take personal responsibility. We now have the highest levels of COVID-19 we have ever had in Colorado. It’s time to step up to stop these trends. If we can save one life, it will be worth it.   

Local vs. Statewide Action

With cases and hospitalizations on the rise, many Coloradans are wondering why the State of Colorado has not issued another Stay-At-Home order. 

Stay-At-Home is a last resort to prevent significant loss of life. There are some major differences between the tools we have now and the tools we had in March. Each community in Colorado is experiencing this pandemic differently. What’s happening in Denver County is much different than what’s happening in Jackson County. 

In March, a one-size fits all approach was the best option available to save lives and get a handle on the virus, but we now have the Dial Framework in place that allows us to work with each county and support them in addressing their specific needs. 

We have extraordinary leaders in our local governments who are making very difficult choices right now. The Governor today highlighted some recent examples of tough decisions that had to be made at the county-level

  • Summit and Adams County implemented a 10 p.m. curfew.

  • Denver asked residents to be home by 10 p.m., and also asked residents to only interact with members of their own household for the month of November.

  • Many other counties have taken nuanced measures responsive to the issues in their communities, like restricting spectators at youth sports or surging testing in disproportionately impacted communities.


Better Statewide Tools to Help Fight COVID

Governor Polis emphasized that progress has been made in prevention and treatment of the virus, and in October, the Governor submitted the Colorado's COVID-19 vaccine plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Leveraging public-private partnerships, the State has ramped up our testing capacity, PPE supplies, and hospital capacity across Colorado to improve our ability to respond to COVID-19. As a result, we are much better equipped to respond to this pandemic than we were in March. 

Testing

Back in March, Colorado’s testing capability stood at 160 tests processed per day in the state lab. That’s why the Governor was proud to announce that theState Lab shattered their own record and performed more than 8,700 tests in one day! And capacity continues to grow -- currently, state labs and private partners are able to test a total of 38,000 Coloradans per day.

The State of Colorado is also proud to announce a partnership with company Curative to increase testing in long-term care facilities and rural communities with testing kiosks, and will work with both Curative and Mako to launch testing vans:  

Testing Kiosks (Curative)

  • Currently being deployed 

  • Current locations:  

  • UNC Greeley (students, staff, community members) 

  • Denver International Airport (employees) 

  • The test is self-administered, free, quick, and easy:

  • Patient swabs inside of their cheek and roof of their mouth

  • Once complete, patient seals their test in a secure container and returns to a lab 

  • The State has plans to deploy 8 more kiosks across the state.

Testing Vans (Curative and Mako) 

  • In the planning stages 

  • Testing vans will drive to hot spots across the state.

  • This is another dynamic tool that will be used to reach the hardest-hit communities.

Including building up our rapid testing ability, we will use every tool we have to make a difference in finding positive cases and stopping transmission.

As always, if you have any symptoms or think you may have been exposed, you can get a free, quick, and easy test. Find a testing site near you at covid19.colorado.gov/testing.  

PPE Supplies

In the spring, Colorado was competing with other states and our own federal government to get the medical supplies to first responders and frontline medical staff. 

Over the last 10 months, in the absence of leadership from the federal government, we have forged relationships with companies and other governments in order to secure the PPE we need to effectively respond to this virus. In March, we had less than 300,000 N-95 masks and no KN-95 masks. Today we have:

  • 9.7 million KN-95 masks

  • 640,000 N-95 masks

  • Over 10 million surgical masks

  • Over 3 million face shields

  • Over 1.2 million gowns.

The State has also entered into long-term contracts with major manufacturers to provide monthly deliveries of PPE to the state, and is proactively working with local public health partners to identify more ways to support our communities.

Hospital Capacity

In response to the trend of rising hospitalizations, the State is working closely with our hospital partners to rapidly scale it up. Here are some updates: 

  • Due to improvements in clinical management of COVID, the average length of stay in a hospital has decreased from one to two days. 

    • A shorter hospital stay means that beds become available more quickly and hospitals can treat more patients.

  • This week, a Statewide Transfer Center was launched by the Hospital Association

    • Enables rapid coordination between hospitals to notify and fully utilize every single bed in the state. 

  • The State is preparing for surge capacity by:

    • Activating St. Mary Corwin and St. Anthony’s on 84th to provide a safe place for people to recover before returning to nursing homes. 

    • If needed, activating the Colorado Convention Center as a field hospital.  

The State hopes we never need to activate resources reserved for surge capacity, but we are prepared to do so if the time comes.

Increased Knowledge of the Virus

We all know more about this virus right now than we did 10 months ago, and we are consistently working to update safety guidelines and restrictions around data and science:

  • There is a higher risk of contracting the virus indoors:

    • The State is working with our local restaurants to encourage outdoor dining, even throughout the winter, and why the statewide mask order pertains to mask-wearing indoors. 

  • Coloradans know the tools they can use to protect themselves and those around them:

    • Mask wearing

    • Physical distancing

    • Washing your hands

  • Coloradans know what to do, because they have done it before. 

    • Smaller jumps in cases after July 4th and Labor Day.

    • These spikes were easier to get under control because Coloradans understand how to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

The single biggest risk is not where you go, but who you go with. Unlike in March, now we all know how not to get the virus— you avoid interacting with people outside your household, you wear a mask while in the company of people outside your household especially indoors, and you wash your hands frequently. We just need to have the will and discipline to minimize our exposure risk. 

State Workforce Working Remotely

Today, Governor Polis announced that state employees will be working remotely, at least through the end of November. This is in an effort to do our part to change the trajectory of this virus, and applies to state employees (with limited exceptions) in counties with orange or red levels of incidence. 


When the numbers were looking better statewide, the Colorado State Government was planning to return to in-person work at reduced levels in November. Due to our alarming trends, the Governor asks that our local governments and businesses in the private sector that have the ability, do everything they can to ensure that employees can work remotely, so we can sooner get back to business as usual while keeping everyone safe. 

State Boards & Commissions Openings 

We are continually looking for qualified candidates to serve on almost 320 boards and commissions that oversee a large variety of subjects and make a wide range of decisions affecting your day-to-day lives as Coloradans. These boards are a tremendous opportunity for Coloradans to help govern and give back to the great state of Colorado. You can find upcoming openings and immediate openings due to resignations below: 

Upcoming Openings: 

  • Statewide Independent Living Council

  • Colorado Wildlife Habitat Stamp Committee

  • Colorado Human Trafficking Council

  • 7th Judicial District Nominating Commission

  • Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways Commission

  • Minority Business Advisory Council

  • State Housing Board

  • Air Quality Control Commission

  • Sickle-Cell Anemia Advisory Board

  • Urban Drainage and Flood Control Districts

  • Water Conservation Board

  • Water Quality Control Commission

  • Health Facilities Authority Board of Directors

 Colorado COVID Surge Calls for Action 

Immediate Openings Due to Resignations: 

  • Food Systems Advisory Council

  • Employee Ownership Committee

  • Chemical Demilitarization Citizens Advisory Commission

  • Colorado Commission on the Aging 

To apply, fill out an application at this link. To see other Boards and Commissions openings for the rest of 2020 and part of 2021, you can visitthis link.

If you have any questions about Boards and Commissions, please contact Nikky Patel, Deputy Director of Boards and Commissions at[email protected].

 

Department of Healthcare Policy & Finance Rulemaking Hearings

November 6, 2020

1) The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing - Medical Services will be holding a rulemaking hearing on Friday, December 11th, 2020, 9:00 am on rules regarding Inpatient SUD Services. The hearing will be held at: 303 East 17th Avenue, 11th Floor, Denver CO 80203.

The purpose of this rulemaking is: 

The rule is being revised to expand access to substance use disorder treatment and withdrawal management services The expansion of substance use disorder treatment services is in alignment with 25.5-5-325, C.R.S. (2020).

If you believe there will be a significant negative impact on small business, job creation or economic competitiveness, you may request that the Department of Regulatory Agencies require the rulemaking agency to prepare a cost-benefit analysis of a proposed rule or amendment. This request must be made to the Department of Regulatory Agencies by Sunday, November 15th, 2020.

You may also submit comments directly to the rulemaking agency for the agency's consideration during the upcoming rulemaking hearing.

2) The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing - Medical Services will be holding a rulemaking hearing on Friday, December 11th, 2020, 9:00 am on rules regarding CHASE Fee. The hearing will be held at: 303 East 17th Avenue, 11th Floor, Denver CO 80203.

The purpose of this rulemaking is: 

The rule change makes necessary revisions for the federal fiscal year (FFY) 2019-20 Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability (HAS) fee and supplemental payment amounts. Inpatient per-diem fees and Outpatient percentage fees are updated to account for changes to estimated Medicaid expansion costs, estimated administration costs, and HAS supplemental payments. The Rule also includes revisions to the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) supplemental payment for the FFY 2021 DSH allotment reduction, revisions to the Hospital Quality Incentive Payment (HQIP) supplemental payment for changes recommended by the HQIP sub-committee and approved by the Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainably Enterprise (CHASE) Board, and revisions to language used throughout to increase transparency and understanding.

If you believe there will be a significant negative impact on small business, job creation or economic competitiveness, you may request that the Department of Regulatory Agencies require the rulemaking agency to prepare a cost-benefit analysis of a proposed rule or amendment. This request must be made to the Department of Regulatory Agencies by Sunday, November 15th, 2020.

You may also submit comments directly to the rulemaking agency for the agency's consideration during the upcoming rulemaking hearing.

 3) The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing - Medical Services will be holding a rulemaking hearing on Friday, December 11th, 2020, 9:00 am on rules regarding NF Minimum Payment. The hearing will be held at: 303 East 17th Avenue, 11th Floor, Denver CO 80203.

The purpose of this rulemaking is: 

House Bill (H.B.) 20-1362 limits the annual increase in the General Fund share of the per diem rates for nursing homes from 3.00% to 2.00% in SFY 2020-21 and SFY 201-22. The rule change makes necessary revisions to be compliant with state statute.

If you believe there will be a significant negative impact on small business, job creation or economic competitiveness, you may request that the Department of Regulatory Agencies require the rulemaking agency to prepare a cost-benefit analysis of a proposed rule or amendment. This request must be made to the Department of Regulatory Agencies by Sunday, November 15th, 2020.

You may also submit comments directly to the rulemaking agency for the agency's consideration during the upcoming rulemaking hearing.

 

Governor Polis COVID & Election Updates November 6, 2020

Quick Links to Stay Up to Date

Topline Update

The State currently has 121,006 cases, 2,353total deaths (2,158 are due to COVID), and 9,714 hospitalizations out of 1,287,081 completed tests. Every death is a tragedy. There are families and friends mourning across our state today and we keep them in our thoughts.  

In terms of new cases, 14 of the last 14 days have had an upward trend in the 7-day moving average of newly reported cases. And in terms of hospitalizations, 11 of the last 14 days have had an upward trend in the 7-day moving average of new hospitalizations. 

This case data is broken down by various categories, is updated daily, and can be foundhere. 

A new feature on your phone notifies you if you may have been exposed to someone contagious with COVID-19. By opting in through your iPhone device settings or downloading the app onto your Android device you can better protect yourself and your family.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, please get a free, quick, and easy test. Visit covid19.colorado.gov/testing to find a testing site near you.

COVID-19 Trends 

Today, Governor Polis was joined by State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy to provide an update on the latest COVID-19 modeling from CDPHE, and emphasized the importance of taking three important steps to slow the spread of the virus during the month of November: 1) Interact with only those in your household 2) Keep your distance 3) Wear a Mask. 

Since the beginning of this pandemic, the Governor has been proud of Coloradans’ response. By no means have these last few months been easy, but we have risen to the challenge. Colorado was one of the first states to reopen our economies and by many standards, we have fared better than our neighboring states throughout the year. 

However, we are experiencing a shift.We have now surpassed the hospitalization level we fought in March. And unfortunately, it is likely that we will surpass peak hospitalizations seen back in April over the next 24 hours. 

The data provided a stark reminder to Coloradans that cases and hospitalizations continue rising at alarming and unsustainable rates:

  • Colorado has had three waves of illness:

    • Spring

    • Summer

    • Fall (current) 

  • At this point, we are at our highest case count since the beginning of the pandemic:

    • Yesterday, over 3,000 (3,369)new positive cases were reported, the highest number reported in a single day.

  • As of today, we have exceeded our Spring peak of hospitalizations.  

  • Disease rates vary by county, however, most counties in the state have experienced a rise in cases:

    • 53 Counties in local mitigation efforts

    • 28 Counties with Stay at Home levels of incidence

  • Every week our hospitalizations have increased faster than the previous week. 

Our healthcare system will be put at risk if we remain on our current path of disease transmission, which projects that we could surpass our ICU hospital bed capacity in late December. At that point, hospitals would need to go into surge capacity. 

We need to get back to doing what we know works best. Each of us has a responsibility to do our part by wearing masks, avoiding gatherings with people outside of our households, physically distancing, and washing our hands. So, let’s do it.  

Step Up, Colorado 

It is painfully apparent that Coloradans have become complacent over the last few weeks. Factors like lapses in following guidelines, more time indoors due to approaching colder weather, holiday season travel, and flu season, means that we must renew our commitment to taking life-saving precautions. 

As part of Colorado’s “Step Up” campaign, Governor Polis previewed a video that is out online and on television, sharing three key steps that Coloradans need to take during the month of November in order to slow the spread of this virus:

  1. Interact with only those in your household: This means we all need to do our best to avoid any social interactions with friends and family outside of our homes throughout the month of November. Of course, Coloradans will continue essential activities like going to work. 

  2. Keep your distance: Just because you’re wearing a mask does mean that you are not at-risk while interacting with others in close proximity. We need to do a better job of staying six or more feet away from others. 

  3. Wear a mask: The numbers are clear. If you wear a mask, you have a much lower risk of getting or transmitting the virus. 

In the video, Dr. Herlihy mentions the statistic that about 1 in 145 Coloradans in Denver are contagious with COVID-19. Today, that number is closer to 1 in 100, which demonstrates just how quickly the situation is changing. During the press conference, Dr. Herlihy also pointed out that Colorado’s hospitalizations have nearly reached the peak the state hit this Spring, and showed a visualization of thetime lapse of one-week incidence per 100,000 people over the past several weeks. 

You can watch the video linked above and other videos in English and Spanish here.

Cancel Your Social Plans

Governor Polis has a difficult message for Coloradans: Cancel your social plans.The Governor is tired of this virus too. There will be a day when we can all gather together again without our masks, but we are not there yet. 

The Governor encourages Coloradans to postpone social plans for the next few weeks -- or even a month. This may sound like a daunting task, but if done together and immediately, we have the opportunity to change the trajectory of these trends for the end of the year.

It all comes down to the power of choice. Think twice before deciding to host a dinner party with a group of friends or choosing not to wear a mask when you’re around people from outside of your household. These decisions ultimately put yourself and others at risk, jeopardize efforts to reopen our economy and make it that much harder for local businesses to remain open. 

This is a wake up call. Let’s show the grit we need to bear down, cancel our social plans, avoid interactions with others, and get through this together. 

Election Update

Governor Polis today spoke to what Coloradans have been seeing over the past 48 hours since Election Day. Here in Colorado, we saw our biggest voter turnout in state history and further cemented our status as a national model for holding safe, secure, and reliable elections. 

The Governor thanks Secretary of State Jena Griswold and her team, and the county clerks and volunteer election judges across our state, who worked tirelessly to ensure that Colorado is counted among the places in the nation to cast a ballot. 

Coloradans spoke clearly, casting their ballots for change at the federal level.

Colorado voters also voted to ensure that Colorado can continue to be one of the best places in the nation to live, work, and play. Coloradans:

  • Overwhelmingly supported a measure to provide free preschool to every four-year-old in our state;

  • Repealed the Gallagher Amendment to support our firefighters, small businesses, and local communities; and

  • Provided tax relief for every Coloradan and paved the way for broader fiscal and tax reform. 

While many of us are ready for this election to be over, uncertainty remains surrounding the outcome of the presidential race, along with many other federal races -- and we must be patient in waiting for those final results. 

It’s clear that our country remains divided, and for many people, this election was all too personal. Maybe you lost a loved one to COVID-19 or have seen your business suffer because of the pandemic or suffered job loss. 

The Colorado Way means that regardless of your political affiliation or the outcome of this election, we remember that above all else, we are Coloradans, and we come together when times get tough. And now more than ever is the time to come together to emerge stronger and more resilient from this pandemic. 

 

 
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