The data released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment arrived at a press conference Tuesday, in which Governor Jared Polis and state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy urged the Coloradans to limit their gatherings for Thanksgiving.
The governor said he and his family would spend Christmas alone, with their own household, and he encouraged the other Coloradans to do the same to “make sure you have your family there for many Thanksgivings to come.”
Herlihy said Colorado needs to increase control over transmission of the virus by increasing social distancing and working to flatten the hospitalization curve in order to preserve intensive care capacity.
Colorado has 1,711 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in hospital, according to the most recent data. Colorado this week also exceeded 200,000 cases of COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, 202,289 cases have been confirmed and 2,456 people have died from COVID-19. Coloradao reported 3,689 new cases of the virus on Monday.
Currently, Colorado sees about 65% control of the transmission of the virus, Herlihy said. If the state can increase that control to around 80% – through social distancing and the wearing of masks – thousands of cases and deaths can be prevented and the state’s hospital capacity can be preserved, Herlihy said.
On the other hand, if transmission control declines due to the holiday gatherings, the state could exceed the capacity of the ICU in December, according to state modeling data. The state’s current trajectory could also lead to a total of 6,600 deaths through the end of the year, Herlihy said.Polis said “our north star” continues to be the possibility that some Coloradans – hospital workers and other first responders – receive the COVID-19 vaccine within weeks. The state would then distribute the vaccine to other high-risk people, as available.
Polis also announced on Tuesday the formation of a special working group on how students can return to in-person learning. Many school districts, including the state’s largest in Denver, have moved to entirely remote classrooms.
“Frankly, we cannot let our children’s future become another victim of this pandemic,” Polis said.
Denver and more than a dozen other counties in Colorado were moved to ‘red level’ on the state’s COVID-19 dial last week, resulting in indoor dining bans and other restrictions . The state has created a “purple level” as the most extreme level on the dial, although no county is there yet.