COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Come Monday, it'll be safe again for people and their pets to both get a hair cut, according to new Safer at Home guidance from the state of Colorado. You'll also be able to schedule a dentist appointment. Office employees can drop off their kids at daycare before returning to their desks.
Governor Jared Polis will let the Stay at Home executive order expire Sunday night and the state will transition into a second phase of recovery which he calls Safer at Home.
At a news conference Wednesday, the governor reminded the public it will not be all business as usual.
"Restaurants and bars remain closed, we're still developing what those guidelines will look like," Polis said. "They'll continue with take out and delivery of course as we work towards a phased reopening, we're certainly not ruling out a phased reopening during this period."
Doctor Leon Kelly, Deputy Public Health Director for El Paso County explained there is a medical basis for this transition as well as an economic one. Colorado hospitals and public health agencies are now in a stronger position to control the response to the virus.
"On the back end, what people didn't see was the hospitals building up the ability to deal with more patients as they come in, or public health's ability to ramp up that testing so that we can identify those people, get them tested," Kelly said. "Not only get them tested, but get them tested and get results back fast enough that we can take action."
He said earlier COVID-19 testing took between 10 and 12 days to get results, much too long for public health officials to try and track down everyone that an infected person may have come in contact with.
While we may be improving, Dr. Kelly warned it's important to not rush back in. The virus is still just as deadly to vulnerable populations as it was two weeks ago.
So, people should expect to see the same strict precautions in place at nursing homes and long term care facilities. Senior citizens and those with compromised immune systems are also being asked to remain at home unless it is absolutely necessary to leave the house.
Large public gatherings are also too big of a risk. Gatherings of 10 or more people are still not allowed under this transition phase. Public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year. Gyms, nightclubs, spas and other businesses with large social environments will also have to stay closed.
Dr. Kelly said the biggest challenge facing Coloradans today is remaining vigilant as these restrictions are lifted.
"It's one thing to say stay home, and you stay home. It's another to say, go out into the world, starting doing what we do, but do it in this way, and wash your hands and have a mask and do all these different things."
We should expect to see even more drive up testing sites opening in the coming days. Governor Polis announced the arrival of 150,000 test swabs. As of Wednesday afternoon, only 50,000 people in Colorado have been tested for the virus.
Additionally, public health officials will begin the process of contact tracing, where they seek to identify and notify people who may have come into contact with individuals who test positive for the virus.
Click here for the latest update on the number of cases, the age, gender and location of presumptive positive, indeterminate and confirmed cases from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.