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Gov. Polis warns against holiday gatherings as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations hit record highs

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Credit: Gov. Polis, Facebook

DENVER On November 13, Governor Jared Polis announced that Colorado set record highs in new COVID-19 cases. In the last 24 hours, the state recorded 6,439 new cases. To put that in perspective, the state had been averaging a daily case count of 3,659 over the past seven days.

Polis said nationally, the United States also set a record high with 194,610 new cases reported. The governor predicted the United States would begin seeing daily case counts above 200,000 in the next few days.

Polis said Colorado set another single-day record yesterday: 51,797 people tested. He said more testing sites will be opened soon.

“These are our darkest days as a nation, they are our darkest days as a state. It’s going to take all of us working together to get through the weeks and months ahead.”

Polis was encouraged by the news of a possible vaccine and emphasized that because treatments have advanced, it is better to get COVID-19 now than it was at the beginning of the pandemic.

As of November 13, 1,159 Coloradans are hospitalized with COVID-19. Polis said making sure the state still has available ICU beds is the state’s “north star.” About five percent of the people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado “don’t make it out,” Polis said.

“That’s not the type of Russian roulette that any Coloradan wants to play,” the governor added. “You wouldn’t do it with a gun, and you shouldn't do it with a virus.”

The governor said hospitals must present a surge plan to the state explaining how they will increase bed capacity. Earlier this week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched a new chart on their website that shows regional availability of ICU beds. The Denver region, for example, only has 10% of ICU beds available. Get the latest data here.

There have been 2,504 deaths among all COVID-19 cases in Colorado; 2,234 of the deaths are due to COVID-19. Polis said one of his “dear friends” is among the casualties.

“This has been a time of great suffering and loss for so many across the world,” Polis said.

Statewide, one out of every 110 people in Colorado is contagious with COVID-19. Polis said the odds are worse in certain counties. In Adams County, one out of every 58 people are infected. In Denver, the ratio is one out of every 64 people.

Polis said if people are planning on seeing relatives from other households for Thanksgiving, they should quarantine until the holiday starting today to make sure they don’t spread the virus.

“For families that do want to get together...the more family members that make that decision to self-quarantine, the more likely it is that you’re not bringing a loaded pistol for grandma’s head,” Polis said, continuing the Russian roulette analogy. He said he would be celebrating Thanksgiving with just his immediate family.

The governor has so far avoided issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order. Instead, he has expressed “confidence” in Coloradans to follow safety guidelines themselves during the holiday season.

“I don’t think there’s anything a governor can say...that is more compelling than your love for your mother or father or grandparent or aunt or uncle,” Polis said. “It is that love and the heavy weight that would be on the conscious of anyone who with eyes wide opened caused the loss of their parent or grandparent, that is the compelling reason that I have confidence that the people of Colorado will make this a safe Thanksgiving.”

However, to the south of Colorado, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her state will enter a two-week shelter-in-place in response to rising cases. “We face a life-or-death situation, and we must and will act to preserve the lives of New Mexicans,” Grisham tweeted.

Polis did announce some good news: over one million Coloradans have signed up for the Exposure Notification app.

“We’d like to see another million people opt in,” Polis said. He added that research models from Oxford University show that Colorado can expect an eight percent decrease in cases and a six percent reduction in deaths based on how many people have already signed up for Exposure Notification.

Here is how the app works.

“We can do this, Colorado,” Polis said. “I know we can.”

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