DENVER (CBS4) – Sunday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis held a news conference as the number of positive coronavirus cases increased to nearly 600. He declared an order that requires non-critical workplaces in Colorado to reduce their in-person workforce by 50% because of COVID-19.
The order is temporary and will take effect Tuesday, March 24 at 8 a.m. and will last through April 10.
“If workplaces can convert to 100% telecommuting I encourage them to do that,” he said.
Polis noted the number of employees in the state, saying this is an opportunity to lead by example.
“As an employer of over 30,000 Coloradans, as of tomorrow, we are going to have more than 50% of our non-24 hour employees working from home.”
There are some exceptions to the governor’s order, including employers that can certify their employees are no closer than 6 feet from each other during work hours.
It also doesn’t apply to critical business or employers that must function at full capacity “to provide goods and services critical to our response to the COVID-19 epidemic emergency.” According to the Executive Order, that includes “emergency personnel and infrastructure necessary to ensure continuity of critical healthcare, government functions, public safety, manufacturing, and supply chain operations; and authorized businesses exempt from this Executive Order.”
While it is law, the governor urged voluntary compliance.
“There’s a far greater enforcement authority in these matters, and his name is the grim reaper,” Polis said. “If we don’t abide by these simple, common sense protocols, you will be jeopardizing lives.”
In the order, Coloradans are encouraged to stay home unless they are getting or delivering necessary supplies, going to and from work, going outside where they can maintain at least 6 feet of space between them and other people around them.
“Try to do them as infrequently as possible. Shop once a week for groceries instead of twice. If you’re accustomed to jogging three or four times a week, jog once or twice a week. Try jogging in a different hour when less people are out.”
Polis addressed the growing need to medical supplies for medical professionals.
“We could be forced into a wartime triage situation. Having to choose who gets a ventilator or a bed, and who doesn’t. Who lives, and who doesn’t,” he said. “The (Trump) administration told us as much when he said governors were essentially on our own to get medical equipment. ‘Try getting it yourselves,’ was the quote,” Polis said.
On Sunday, the Governor also announced the creation of a new team, called the Innovation Response Team Task Force, that includes people from the public and private sectors. He said it will work on a number of tasks in the coming weeks, including developing a statewide system for mass testing and rapid results, developing technology to track the spread of virus, creating a suite of services for people who are isolated, and finding local alternatives for creating and securing supplies.
Polis highlighted new partnerships with private companies in Colorado that will lead to the manufacturing of COVID-19 tests, face shields, and hand sanitizer.
“This is the sort of patriotic response that we need across the public and private sector for Colorado to mount a response to this virus that saves lives,” Polis said.
Three communities in Colorado announced positive cases of COVID-19. Logan County says they now have their first two cases.
New numbers from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show:
5,436 people tested
5 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities