COLORADO SPRINGS — I had the chance to speak exclusively and extensively "One On One" with Governor Jared Polis Friday night about the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has now taken 250 lives, with more than 6,500 cases and counting. The governor spoke on several topics, including News5 viewer questions that ranged from acquiring more supplies and tests to the state finally making it a priority to report publicly on the number of people who have recovered from the virus or discharged from hospitals.
As for the supplies, Polis told me that the Colorado Unified Command Group has issued purchasing orders for more than $46.2 million worth of medical supplies that the state plans to distribute to health care facilities, private businesses and local government agencies. Polis told me, "We're buying masks, gloves, hospital gowns, once the needs are met in the hospitals, the goal is to be able to distribute those for other front-line workers meaning folks in grocery stores, other critical areas where they have to go to work and need that extra protection."
As for the growing death toll and the number of cases, I pressed the governor on when the state health department will finally start releasing information on the number of people who have survived or are released from hospitals. A week and a half ago, the health department said they were not receiving enough information, or hospitals and other healthcare providers were not supplying enough information to be able to accurately report those numbers. Governor Polis said that he hopes to have that rectified by next week, and make it a part of the daily COVID-19 report from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.
One of the most important questions is about when he might expect things to start to calm down, numbers start to level off, hospitalizations and fatalities, decrease. While he has extended the stay-at-home order until April 26th, health experts are telling him that we may see the numbers peak by mid May, which will allow healthcare workers to better prepare for the surge, and moving the peak back two or three weeks means it will lessen the intensity of it on
Having said that he believes there may be some lessening of restrictions as it relates to re-opening some businesses, but that it's not going to be the same as January and February, it will usher in a new normal, a new reality for everyone in Colorado. "But what will happen is people will be able to earn a living, be able to get a haircut, those elective surgeries and dental cleanings that people have put off looking in to May, they'll be able to do those things and have them, it just won't be exactly the way it's done before, there's still going to be social distancing that's a necessary part of making sure we don't have another peak of this virus".
The governor also told me he has been in contact with Vice President Pence regarding an outbreak of COVID-19 at a meat packing plant in Weld County, where at least two workers have died, dozens more are believed to have contracted the virus. He said that the federal government will be sending test kits this weekend for between two and three thousand workers to be tested before they could return to work. The union representing the workers has asked the governor to step in and shut down the plant for at least a week, the governor has not made a decision on that yet.
I want to thank everyone who sent questions to me via email, our website or the KOAA Facebook page, sadly, the interview was cut short, and we weren't able to get to them all, but I believe there was some very good information for our Southern Colorado viewers who are looking for answers during this unprecedented health crisis. If you would like to see the entire interview, we have posted it at KOAA.COM as well.