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Gov. Polis encourage counties to support statewide COVID efforts

Health officials say a positivity rate of 5% or less is needed to keep the virus under control.
polis on furloughs
Gov. Jared Polis announced furloughs for state workers. (Screenshot from Facebook)

Gov. Jared Polis said Friday the state depends on Colorado counties to do their part to halt the COVID-19 spread even as some local governments chafe at more stringent restrictions imposed to halt the virus.

“We encourage folks in these communities to be first-line ambassadors,” Polis said in a video press conference Friday. “Our goal is not to impose statewide measures in every county.”

He added each county has its own way to attack the virus and that government  works as a "backstop."  He also implored each Coloradan to do more to stop COVID-19, which has infected one out of every 49 Coloradans.

“It is in our community,” Polis said. “Literally everybody you encounter can be contagious at this time.”

“We’re in for tough days ahead,” Polis added. A vaccine could be available for frontline workers by the end of December but most residents will still have to wait a few more months to get inoculated against the virus.

“We have to hang in there, we just have to hold on just a few more months,” Polis said.

Polis spoke Friday specifically about COVID-19 spread on the Western Slope. Earlier this week, health officials in Mesa County reported there are no ICU beds available because of the rise of COVID-19, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

In neighboring Garfield County, the commissioners have resisted adopting the higher Level Red status because it would further hurt businesses, according to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Weld County Commissioners, meanwhile, said Friday they would not enforce the tougher Level Red restrictions. Weld County’s two week positivity rate is 16.5%, according to state data.

Health officials say a positivity rate of 5% or less is needed to keep the virus under control. Polis said Weld County's approach in controlling COVID-19 may not be working.

Polis said the upcoming Special Session - which commences Nov. 30 - will tackle small business relief, child care support as well as housing and rental assistance during the pandemic.

Dr. Allan Michael Vargas, a family medicine specialist with Grand River Medical Center in Battlement Mesa, said individual responsibility is the sharpest tool available to fight COVID-19.

“Over and over again, we are finding there are a few things working well,” Vargas said. “Wearing a mask, socially distancing. These will all reduce our risks but it still doesn’t get us to 0.”

The holidays, including Thanksgiving, will further test the resolve of many Coloradans. “The best thing to do for your families is to minimize our risk,” Vargas said. “If you love someone from a distance, this season will matter.”