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Essential workers, Coloradans 70 and older moved up on state's vaccine plan
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Governor Jared Polis gives a COVID-19 update on December 30

DENVER Governor Jared Polis and officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) gathered remotely Wednesday, December 30 to discuss the first case of the COVID-19 variant in Colorado, as well as an update on the vaccine distribution plan.

The variant, or new version of COVID-19, was first detected in the United Kingdom. Colorado’s first confirmed case of the variant, known as B.1.1.7, is the first confirmed case in the United States.

The person who tested positive is a man in his 20s in Elbert County. He had no travel history, according to the governor’s office, which suggests that others in Colorado have also carried the B.1.1.7 version of COVID-19.

State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy announced that the man is a Colorado National Guardsman, and that another member of the Colorado National Guard is currently considered a “possible” case.

Both individuals had been deployed to the Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Simla, Colorado, earlier this month to help with a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. Polis said that 100% of the residents at the nursing home had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The soldiers arrived at the nursing home on December 23 and were tested the following day.

State officials are investigating if any residents tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant, or if the Colorado National Guard members contracted the variant outside of the facility.

“I’m proud that we detected [B.1.1.7] here in Colorado as quickly as we did,” Polis said during the press conference. “It speaks to the incredible work of the exceptional scientists and staff in our state lab.”

Colorado Voices

COVID-19 Variant found in Colorado

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Experts say that B.1.1.7 appears more contagious than other versions of the coronavirus, but that the symptoms that come along with this variant are not any worse than normal COVID-19 symptoms. There is also currently no evidence to suggest that the available COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective against this variant.

“There’s a lot we don’t know about this variant,” Polis maintained. But the governor did emphasize that it is common for viruses to mutate over time.

Dr. Eric France says the new variant "doesn't seem more deadly." But one of the major problems with B.1.1.7 is that if it spreads faster than previous versions of COVID-19which current research suggeststhen hospitals could be overwhelmed as we head into the New Year.

Currently hospital data in Colorado is available here.

Polis and the other health officials on the call said that with this variant confirmed in Colorado, it is important for Coloradans to continue wearing masks, washing their hands, staying at least six feet away from others, and only gathering with people in their same household.

Updates on the state vaccine distribution plan

During Wednesday’s press conference, Polis and officials with CDPHE also announced changes to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.

Under the updated plan, Coloradans ages 70 and older will be vaccinated in Phase 1B. Dr. Eric France said people in that demographic can expect their shots in the next four to five weeks.

CDPHE also included more front line workers in Phase 1B: educators, postal workers, grocery store employees, state government officials and even some journalists. More information on the vaccine plan is available here.

Colorado Voices

Governor Jared Polis 12-30-2020 Vaccine update

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Colorado Governor Jared Polis update on COVID-19.

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