Governor Polis Declares State of Emergency in response to COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Conor Cahill |conor.cahill@state.co.us |303-866-6324 


Gov. Polis Provides Update on State’s Response

to COVID-19

 

DENVER - Gov. Polis declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus). The declaration will help ensure resources are available to the state to combat COVID-19. 

“Our top priority is protecting public health and our vulnerable populations which is why we are taking swift bold action. Our administration's response will be guided by the science and lessons learned from the countries and states that this virus arrived in first” said Governor Jared Polis. “We will continue to be proactive and working around the clock to protect public health and safety with an eye towards preventing the need for more drastic measures that result in social disruption.” 

“In order to slow the spread of the disease, some of the most effective measures we can take as a state is to test more people so that those who test positive can be isolated from the general population as we continue to stress the need for personal action such as staying home when sick, keeping their kids home when they’re sick and diligently washing your hands,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We thank everyone who has been involved with this containment effort for their tireless efforts and works to ensure the people of our state are safe.”

Details of the executive order: 

  • Directs Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to engage in emergency rulemaking to ensure workers in food handling, hospitality, child care, health care, and education can get paid sick leave to miss work if they exhibit flu-like symptoms and have to miss work awaiting testing results for COVID-19. 
  • For workers who test positive and lack access to paid leave, the Governor is directing CDLE to identify additional supports and wage replacement such as access to unemployment insurance.  These steps are especially important for those who work with vulnerable populations like older Coloradans and those with underlying health issues. When those workers lack access to paid sick leave, it poses a great risk to our ability to protect the public. 
  • Directs DPA to engage in emergency rulemaking regarding state employees. The administration wants to ensure that state functions continue to run smoothly. For employees who may be put either in quarantine or isolation and can work from home, they should do so. If these workers fall ill and cannot perform their duties, they will be able to use paid leave, and the state will be flexible with that paid leave. For impacted employees who cannot work remotely, such as correctional officers, assisted living staff, etc., the administration is working to ensure paid leave options for those who are ill to ensure that those workers can continue to put food on the table while protecting public health.
  • Directs the Department of Revenue to temporarily allow Coloradans over the age of 65 - a vulnerable population - to extend their driver's licenses online to avoid having to congregate at DMVs at this time.
  • Starting tomorrow, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment will be opening a drive-up lab at their facility in Lowry to test anyone who has a note from their doctor stating that they meet the criteria for testing. Let me repeat because this is important, you must still have a doctor’s order to get tested at the new drive-up lab. That facility is located at 8100 E Lowry Blvd, Denver, CO 80230. 

The Governor issued the executive order verbally. The Governor encouraged the private sector of Colorado to voluntarily offer paid sick leave so that we can collectively do our part to contain the virus. 

The Governor was joined by Rachel Herlihy, State Communicable Disease Epidemiologist, CDPHE, Scott Bookman, Incident Commander, CDPHE, Mike Willis, Director, Colorado Office of Emergency Management, Stan Hilkey, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, Joe Barela, Executive Director of the Department of Labor and Employment today at the state capitol.  

Yesterday, the Polis administration took action to ensure Coloradans can get tested for COVID-19 without financial fear. Last week, the Governor directed all state agencies to implement the State Emergency Operations Plan. This is a plan that the state has used in the past to respond to a variety of incidents, including natural disasters like fires and floods, and it is designed to ensure we have the resources and systems in place to respond to COVID-19.  

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