DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis earlier this week extended the statewide stay-at-home order to April 26, with the hope Colorado can lift social distancing measures and end the limitations on the economy by the end of the month.
But Polis on Wednesday emphasized that can only happen one way: If Coloradans continue social distancing and adhere to the stay-at-home order while it's still in place.
"I think [April 26] is a realistic date we can achieve as long as Coloradans are staying home," Polis said at an afternoon news conference Wednesday. "If Coloradans aren't, this is going to get worse and much worse."
Polis and state health officials over the last week have offered positive news about the spread of coronavirus in Colorado, saying the spread has slowed. But they continued to emphasize that more social distancing is needed and that the state likely hasn't reached its peak in the outbreak.
"The next week of data is going to be absolutely critical," Polis said Wednesday, noting that the impact of the stay-at-home order was just beginning to reflect in data. "If we can achieve 70% [social distancing], we'll be in great shape."
Polis said the state would provide guidance to businesses how to return to work before lifting the order, including the maximum size for gatherings and how restaurants can re-open and in what form.
When asked about the possibility of widespread testing — either for the virus or antibody testing to determine immunity for the virus — Polis said the state would have a presentation on that topic before the April 26 lifting of the stay-at-home order. Polis said the plan includes much greater testing but also temperature checks and steps to avoid unnecessary gatherings.
"Testing will be done at a much greater scale," Polis said. "Those details are forthcoming."
Still, Polis said the amount of testing will be constrained by coordinating where and how tests are collected and also by the availability of virus reagents for the tests. Between state labs and hospitals, about 10,000 coronavirus tests can be processed per day in Colorado, though only about 2,000 are being processed now.
The key, Polis said, will be for residents to continue staying home and practicing social distancing.
"There will be enough time for us to have the data we need to offer Coloradans the security they need," Polis said, "that if Coloradans are staying home in sufficient numbers, we should be able to have a much greater degree of return to normalcy by April 26. If that can happen a day or two sooner, no one will more excited than me to do that. We'll all be excited to do that. It's also possible that if Coloradans are not staying at home and the virus is still spreading and the bodies are still piling up at a later date, then that would need to be extended."