Colorado's statewide stay-at-home order extended to April 26

Order originally set to expire April 11; governor says Colorado making progress on slowing COVID-19's spread


Just as Gov. Jared Polis invoked Americans' sacrifice in World War II when he announced Colorado's stay-at-home order nearly two weeks earlier, he again called up the dire and communal spirit of that era in asking Coloradans to keep living life at home for half a month more.

In a statewide address from the governor's residence in Denver broadcast through television and radio, Polis announced he was extending the order through April 26. He acknowledged the feelings of Coloradans who may be distressed or angry and nodded to the hard decisions business owners are being forced to make during the shutdown.

“But if the choice is between a temporary shutdown and a catastrophic loss of life, the choice is clear,” Polis said April 6. “The closures and restrictions will be temporary, but when you lose a life, you lose it forever.”

And the longer that COVID-19 paralyzes the economy, the fewer jobs there will be to return to once it's safe to begin returning to normalcy, Polis added.

Colorado's stay-at-home order went into effect March 26 with an initial expiration date of April 11.

Under the order, Coloradans can leave home only for essential activities, such as shopping for groceries, exercising outdoors or caring for a vulnerable person in another household. Employees may still go to work in a long list of “critical businesses” such as grocery and liquor stores, restaurants and bars for delivery and take-out, health care, infrastructure, agriculture, food banks and many more.

Polis framed it as a “patriotic duty” to continue to sacrifice to prevent more lives from being put in jeopardy.

“Right now, we need to dig deep into our souls to muster the resolve, the courage, the fortitude to carry on,” Polis said, referencing Americans' forebears who sacrificed materials for war equipment in World War II when “everyday citizens became heroes.”

Efforts paying off

Coloradans efforts so far aren't in vain: A month ago, the number of COVID-19 cases in the state was doubling every 1 1/2 days, and as of early April, cases are doubling roughly every six days, Polis said.

Even before the statewide stay-at-home order was in full swing, social distancing — a term that means reducing face-to-face interaction — paid off from March 19 through March 26. It prevented roughly 1,200 cases of COVID-19 in Colorado in that time, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

Colorado officials have attributed those successes to earlier state actions such as the closure of dine-in service at bars and restaurants and the restrictions on the number of people who can gather at once. The impact the stay-at-home order is having on the spread of COVID-19 was to become clear around April 7 due to how long symptoms can take to appear.

Without compliance, order could last longer

Roughly, 80% to 90% of those who become infected with COVID-19 won't need medical assistance, but between 10% and 20% percent will need hospitalized care, and Colorado is in a race against the clock to bolster health care capacity for those who will need it, Polis said.

It could be the life of Coloradans' parents, grandparents or friends — or even their own lives — who are in danger, Polis said.

The governor again repeated his goal of mass testing larger numbers of Coloradans for COVID-19, referencing nations such as South Korea. He wants Colorado to be able to accurately quarantine individuals “instead of quarantining an entire society,” Polis said.

Polis mentioned federal guidance to continue social distancing measures until April 30. Hours before Polis' address, Denver announced it is extending its stay-at-home order until April 30.

“If there's any way to safely end it sooner (than April 26), I will,” Polis said. But he added that if Coloradans don't comply well enough, the order could extend longer.

Polis thanked the Coloradans who are making an effort to stay home. He implored Coloradans to also wear cloth face coverings such as scarves or cloth cut made from old T-shirts — guidance he issued days earlier.

“You're literally saving lives,” Polis said.


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