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RBC | Rumors that Gov. Polis would extend the stay-at-home order appear to be unfounded after his press conference Monday, April 20. It won’t be life as we knew it before COVID-19, but Colorado’s official stay-at-home order will be lifted as planned on April 26.
Statewide compliance with public health directives has effectively slowed the spread of the virus and allowed healthcare systems to make preparations to care for COVID-19 patients, but a “marathon” of restrictions will be in place going forward to prevent a surge in new infections.
“I hate to break it to you, but the easy part was the sprint,” Polis said, referring to the March order that shuttered businesses, sent residents who could work from home out of their offices, and created a tidal wave of unemployment assistance applications.
Polis is calling the next phase a “safer-at-home” period, wherein residents will still be encouraged to stay home as much as possible, teleworking will be encouraged, social distancing, wearing masks, and getting our temperatures checked will become a regular facet of daily life. Polis emphasized “individual choices” as the new mandate.
Restaurants and bars will still be closed to in-person dining (keep that takeout menu handy), and schools will remain closed.
Meanwhile, retail businesses can reopen and offer curbside delivery.
Personal services like hair and nail salons, dog grooming services, tattoo parlors and personal training will be allowed to reopen but will be subject to restrictions, as will retail businesses as they expand from curbside delivery.
Older residents and high-risk individuals should continue to stay home as much as possible, for their own protection.
Large workplaces will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity starting May 4, with restrictions in place.
Rio Blanco County began the process of outlining what those restrictions will look like for county employees in a work session last week.
“The virus will be here for a long time. We’re still 100% behind the measures to protect people,” RBC Director of Public Health and Environment Alice Harvey told county department heads and commissioners in the virtual meeting. “We are doing very well and I think that’s hugely because of our community response, from what Watt’s has done to the ladies walking six feet apart down the street.”
“Now is not the time to let up,” Harvey continued. “GarCo and Routt [counties] continue to rise. Mesa is in the same boat we are. One outbreak could shut down our economy.”
Testing continues to be an issue nationally, statewide, and locally. “We don’t have the availability of testing. It’s slowly growing. We don’t have antibody testing yet. We’ve been lucky because our hospitals have had tests available for people at high risk who qualify,” Harvey said. “We haven’t received any tests from the state.”
Cloth face masks are recommended for employees who can’t socially distance. Harvey said.
“Wearing a mask is a good reminder that this is still going on and to be vigilant,” said RBC
Public Health Nurse Kelly Christian, who has a background in infection control.
“This isn’t going away until we have a vaccine,” Harvey said.