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As COVID cases surge and freezing weather approaches, CoPIRG is calling on Colorado to take necessary actions to blunt the spread of the virus. CoPIRG applauds Governor Polis for extending a mask mandate but more aggressive action is needed, including temporarily closing indoor dining and bars, tripling the amount of testing and limiting travel.
“We know what we need to do to save lives, but we’re not doing it. Public health professionals are clear--we need to temporarily close businesses where COVID is more likely to be spread including bars and indoor dining, and encourage people to limit contact with people outside of their households until our case levels go down,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG director. “Experts also say Colorado has to triple the amount of testing it's doing now to effectively suppress the virus and set us up to reopen safely,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG director.
Colorado has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks and has surpassed 1,000 daily new cases and a positivity rate of 5%. Yet indoor dining and bars--which have been flagged as high risk settings for spreading the virus--remain open. And with colder weather coming, more Coloradans will likely head indoors, where the coronavirus spreads more easily.
“In states where public officials took the necessary measures to slow virus spread and set up robust testing, contact tracing and isolation infrastructure they’ve been able to get back to some semblance of normal. We’re not there yet in Colorado, and with a forecasted high of 27 degrees on Sunday, time is not on our side,” said Katz.
Last week, CoPIRG highlighted that Colorado’s COVID testing is falling significantly short of where it needs to be according to a model from the Brown School of Public Health and Harvard Global Health Institute. Their model shows that Colorado has to triple the amount of testing it’s doing now to hit its suppression target--the testing level at which you can catch isolated infections before they turn into outbreaks.
“When we fail to suppress the spread of COVID, we fail to save lives, we fail to keep people safe and we fail to allow our state to recover economically,” said Katz.
A recent U.S. PIRG letter signed by some of the top economists in the country highlighted that reopening before controlling the virus will prolong economic damage. The letter states “The reasonable fear that results from rampant serious illness and sudden death is a potent economic factor that will keep people’s economic lives on hold for a very long time.”
CoPIRG is calling on Governor Polis to work with federal, state and local leaders to:
- Triple the amount of testing in Colorado, ensure the test results come back in 48 hours and add any additional contact tracing resources to support the increase in testing
- Temporarily close bars and indoor dining and any other non-essential businesses that have high risk of spreading COVID
- Set and enforce state-level travel restrictions for anyone arriving from another state that is not currently meeting public health benchmarks, including a two week quarantine period or providing a negative test result administered in the previous 72 hours
- Limit travel within the state, especially to or from communities that are COVID hot spots
- Set lower limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings
- Ensure the statewide mask mandate is being followed
“Dozens of people are dying from COVID every week because it is spreading unchecked across Colorado. We have to prioritize saving lives. If we do that, we can suppress the virus over the next few weeks and give us a chance to see our family and friends in a safer way this holiday season,” said Katz.
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