Friday, April 3, 2020

COVID-19 update for April 3: All Coloradans asked to wear face masks

Posted By on Fri, Apr 3, 2020 at 5:19 PM

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As of April 2, Colorado has seen 111 deaths from COVID-19 and has recorded 4,173 cases of the new coronavirus — a jump of 445 over the previous day. Statewide, there have been 823 hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

In El Paso County, 347 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed and 18 people have died. The latest figures do not include Friday’s cases.

A total of 22,071 people have been tested statewide for the virus and Governor Jared Polis said during a Friday afternoon press conference that Colorado’s testing capabilities are significantly ramping up: The state is now processing over 2,000 tests per day and is building up to process as many as 5,000 a day, beginning in May.

Polis also announced all Coloradans are now being asked to wear cloth face coverings whenever leaving their homes — which should still only be for essential functions — to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Studies have shown the use of non-medical face masks can be effective in reducing the spread of the virus, which is primarily contracted through airborne droplets, Polis said.

Residents will be asked to wear these masks for the foreseeable future.

Medical masks, Polis said, must be reserved for medical workers.

The state has teamed up with The Colorado Mask Project to offer patterns and resources for residents to make their own face masks, and people are encouraged to visit coloradomaskproject.com for more information.

Polis emphasized people don’t need to leave their homes for materials. Masks can be made from simple things like old T-shirts and should cover the individual’s mouth and nose, allow for breathing, and be washed in hot water between uses.

Polis also announced additional measures the state is taking to address the economic impacts of the pandemic, including that the deadline for businesses to file and remit sales taxes has been extended from April 20 to May 20 with no penalty and no interest. The state has also extended the period that counties will wave interest payments for property taxes to May 1.

In other developments:
The El Paso County Sheriff’s office issued a statement Friday addressed to those with loved ones within the El Paso County Jail.

The statement said the Sheriff's office has implemented several aggressive measures in recent weeks to minimize the risk of exposure within the jail.

“To combat the rampant spread of this disease we have implemented some very restrictive housing measures,” the statement said. “These restrictions are not punitive. They are based on scientific data, medical guidance, and industry best practices as they apply to the layout of our jail.”

The measures include “drastically reduced” hours for inmates to make phone calls, receive visits, socialize with other inmates, and use showers. The statement also indicates the jail maintains a “robust supply” of cleaning materials “proven to kill the COVID-19 virus.”

The Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar and the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel filed two emergency petitions Friday asking the Colorado Supreme Court to take immediate action to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado jails by issuing a directive that lower courts are “to do their part to safely reduce the number of people who are incarcerated during this crisis,” according to a statement.

The petitions ask the court to issue guidance to safely limit the number of people: arrested and booked into jail; held in jail pretrial on unaffordable bonds; and held on certain sentences. The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Disability Law Colorado, Colorado Lawyers Committee and the Lawyers Civil Rights Coalition joined the petition as parties in interest.

Gov. Polis issued guidance to municipalities across the state that are preparing for upcoming elections. More than 100 municipal elections are being held on April 7. Polis is issuing guidance to ensure Coloradans can vote safely. His guidance includes:
  • Encouraging absentee methods of voting where possible
  • Following the social distance guidance provided in Public Health Order 20-24
  • Encouraging early voting and voting during off-peak hours, where voter crowds may be smaller throughout the day
  • Drive-up voting or ballot drop off for eligible voters
  • Consulting guidance provided by the Colorado Municipal League and local health agencies regarding how to safely conduct municipal elections

Colorado received its third allotment from the Strategic National Stockpile. It included:
  • 122,490 N95 masks
  • 287,022 surgical masks
  • 56,160 face shields
  • 57,300 surgical gowns
  • 392,000 gloves
  • 3,636 coveralls

Overall, the state has received the following supplies from the stockpile:
  • 220,010 N95 masks
  • 517,000 surgical masks
  • 100,232 face shields
  • 100,140 surgical gowns
  • 504,000 gloves
  • 3,816 coveralls

The State Unified Command Group, which is part of the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center, will distribute the materials to every county health department and tribe throughout the state, prioritizing where they are needed most.

The state EOC says there are several ways people can contribute to COVID-19 efforts:
The EOC is coordinating requests for supplies, donations of supplies, vendors who can provide supplies, and trained medical personnel. Follow the three steps on the Colorado Business EOC website (colorado.gov/cobeoc/business-members-and-vendors) to create an account in the state resource database. The State EOC uses this database to fill all resource requests from state and local agencies during emergencies.
Coloradans who wish to donate or volunteer to help those affected by COVID-19 should visit helpcoloradonow.com.

There is an urgent need for blood. Visit vitalent.org to sign up to donate blood.
Peterson Air Force Base announced its north gate will be closed until further notice. The west and east gates will maintain their normal operating hours.

Beginning April 8, the visitor control centers at both Peterson AFB and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station will be open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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