DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday he is issuing a statewide stay-at-home order in an attempt to stem the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
Polis said he is taking this “extreme measure,” effective Thursday until April 11, because the restrictions taken to date haven’t been enough to reduce the spread of the virus.
“We’re issuing this stay at home order to save lives,” he said in a news conference.
People should only leave home when they absolutely must, he said, for grocery shopping, to seek medical care or care for dependents, for example.
“You need to stay home and do your part,” Polis said. “I need to stay at home to do my part. We all need to stay at home to do our part.”
Polis’ order comes after six Colorado counties issued stay-at-home orders affecting nearly 3 million people to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients. The Denver, Aspen and Telluride areas had previously issued stay-at-home orders.
As of Wednesday, 1,086 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 19 people have died. The number of people hospitalized by the disease doubled overnight, he said.
The governor said he also submitted a formal request for President Donald Trump to declare Colorado a major disaster area.
The mandatory orders in the Denver area contain a number of exemptions. Liquor stores and gun shops can remain open partly to prevent panic buying. People can still exercise outdoors and use parks but only in groups of four or less. Tennis courts, golf courses and basketball courts will be closed to prevent groups from gathering.
Businesses considered nonessential can only keep operating if employees work from home. Grocery and hardware stores, banks, laundromats and landscapers are among the businesses exempted. Child care centers can keep operating but only with groups of 10 children or less in rooms.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.
People did not seem to be taking previous warnings and actions, like the closure of restaurants, seriously, and false information, such as COVID-19 being akin to the flu, has persisted, Jefferson County Public Health executive director Mark Johnson said. He hopes the orders help make people realize how serious the outbreak is.
“This is truly the greatest public health crisis this nation has seen at least since 1918,” he said.
Meanwhile, medical staffers based at Colorado’s Fort Carson are being deployed to Washington State to back up doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients in one of the nation’s hardest-hit areas. More than 300 members of the 627th Hospital Center will head to Washington to provide supplemental routine and emergency medical care to help free up Washington providers to focus on detecting and treating patients believed to have been exposed to COVID-19, Fort Carson announced Tuesday.
Within hours of deploying, the unit is capable of establishing a 148-bed full-service hospital even in the most austere conditions, according to The Gazette of Colorado Springs. The hospitals can be in customized tents or repurposed civilian buildings.