As counties see spike in coronavirus cases, leaders grapple with enforcement or encouragement

Posted at 9:39 PM, Nov 09, 2020

DENVER — After a week of skyrocketing coronavirus cases statewide, Governor Jared Polis on Monday encouraged more vigilant action from Coloradans when it comes to social distancing.

"It is not easy it is tough. It is tough psychologically, it is tough socially," said Polis. "But we simply must alter our behavior to keep thers safe and keep our hospitals from being overrun."

In the conference, he extended his statewide mask mandate requiring masks indoors. However, he stopped short of more stringent measures leaving enforcement to the counties.

"It is not about enforcement other than it is about the grim reaper is the ultimate enforcer," he said. "More Coloradans will die if Coloradans don’t simply cancel their social plans and wear a mask in public."

Health experts agree that, while enforcing masks and social distancing can help slow the spread of COVID-19, it is only effective if everyone is aware and actively participating.

"It is up to us as a community to determine how high or how dangerous the (outbreak) is," said Dr. Ahmad Rashid, a pulmonologist with Swedish Medical Center in Denver. "The biggest determinant is people’s behavior and how motivated people are to avoid pandemic fatigue and do their part."

"Pandemic fatigue" was a term used by several health experts when discussing the coronavirus outbreak. It refers to people's growing frustration with lockdowns and social distancing as the virus continues to spread in the community.

"We have been doing this for 7 months and we are fatigued. People are letting their guards down," explained Dr. Eric Hill, a physician at the Aurora Medical Center "(politicians) are trying to make decisions to try to help the situation while not crushing the healthcare system at the same time."

Though the decisions and consequences have been difficult, experts say the progress of vaccines to combat the disease can hopefully encourage people to stick it out.

"I know that we can do it. We have done it before. We can do it again," said Polis. "I know everyone is tired of it but I am hopeful that a vaccine light at the end of the tunnel will inspire us to do better."