COLORADO SPRINGS — Gov. Jared Polis provided an update Tuesday afternoon on the state's response to COVID-19, reminding Coloradans that "more of this is behind us than ahead of us" and urging the continued practice of social distancing.
Polis began the conference discussing the fires burning in Colorado and urged Coloradans who are experiencing respiratory symptoms, as a result of the air quality, to get tested for COVID-19 anyway. He also discussed President Donald Trump's positive COVID-19 result and his comment of "don't be afraid."
"Of course it's not a time for fear, but it doesn't mean throw your masks off and have large groups...it's a time for caution," Polis said.
He reiterated the continued practice of washing hands, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing until there is a vaccine available. The current trend of COVID-19 cases in the case is not jeopardizing our current privileges, but it is a concerning rate that could lead to high hospitalizations.
State Epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said there have been high levels of disease transmission overall, but specifically for cases of people 18 to 25 years old, there have been decreases in the last two weeks. The concerning trend is in older age groups which is leading to more hospitalizations.
There has been a steady increase in hospitalizations in the last two weeks across the state with model projections showing a "substantial increase" in the number of cases occurring if social distancing decreases during the holiday season.
The governor said the goal is to handle hospitalization issues by regions/areas, which is part of the reason the state health department released the COVID-19 dial system.
Leading into the Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, Herlihy mentioned the importance of bringing down the number of cases prior to this season because of the anticipation of decreased social distancing.
"We all want to be able to see our loved ones during the holiday season," Polis said as he encouraged people to wear masks and social distance leading up to the winter season.
This follows the governor's office announcement Monday of two executive order extensions related to the COVID-19 response.
The Protect Our Neighbors order has been extended, allowing communities that meet certain criteria to have less stringent reopening requirements. He also extended an order concerning changes to 2020 election activity to help the election proceed during the pandemic.