Colorado "prepared as possible" for coronavirus, Polis says, as state ramps up emergency plans

Posted at 11:41 AM, Mar 03, 2020

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday said Colorado is "prepared as possible" for the coronavirus and is ramping up its emergency response efforts, though no positive tests of the virus have been confirmed in the state.

Polis announced that the state emergency operations center, or SEOC, has been upgraded to a "level 2" response, with 10 state agencies having a representative available for contact at all hours of the day. The emergency preparedness is similar to what Colorado enacted ahead of last year's bomb cyclone snow storm, Polis said.

As of Tuesday, 37 people in Colorado have been tested for coronavirus. Twenty-nine tests came back negative and eight were still pending Tuesday.

On Monday, the Colorado Department of Public Health announced it has the capability of testing up to 160 samples per day for the coronavirus on its own and receiving results back within 24 hours. While some concerns arose over the cost of the coronavirus test, state officials on Tuesday said the tests done through the state lab would not include a fee.

MORE | Colorado health officials say they can now test people for coronavirus on their own

As the state announced plans to increase emergency operations, Polis emphasized that Coloradans should go about their daily routine and treat a common cold or sniffles as they normally would. People should also take precaution by thoroughly washing their hands for 20 seconds and having 72 hours worth of food and water supplies in their home, Polis said.

"People should not be flocking to the emergency room unless they are in dire need of treatment," Polis said. "This is flu and cold season. Unless [symptoms] are severe, treat it as you normally would."

Polis said the state currently has 650,000 N95 surgical masks available for medical caregivers, if needed.

The coronavirus test will not be available to the general public – only for people who meet criteria of being symptomatic for the virus.

The CDPHE has said that there are three circumstances under which a patient could be tested:

· The person has a fever or symptoms of a lower respiratory illness and has been in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 within 14 days of them becoming symptomatic.

· The person has a fever and symptoms of a lower respiratory illness and has recently traveled to a place or places where infection rates are high. (This differs slightly from CDC guidance, as Colorado says it currently has the capacity to test patients who are not hospitalized to help try to identify people with less severe disease.)

· The person has a fever, severe lower respiratory illness that required hospitalization and influenza and other diagnoses have been ruled out.