DENVER — The upward trend of COVID-19 cases in Colorado over the past several weeks is a troubling indication of where the state might be heading if residents continue to be “complacent,” Gov. Jared Polis said during a briefing Tuesday.
Tuesday’s hospital data showed 378 hospital beds in use by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, up 45 from Monday. Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also shows 444 new cases of the virus have been reported Tuesday.
Polis warned that more measures and even possible restrictions could be put back in place if the virus continues to spread. However, he gave no indication that immediate action would be taken. Rather, he stressed residents limit social interactions and harped on a subject matter he’s been very outspoken about recently: wearing a mask.
“I’ve been more direct than normal in asking Coloradans to wear masks. That’s because I care deeply about Colorado,” said Polis during Tuesday’s briefing. “And frankly I’m worried that Coloradans are taking a fragile success relative to some of our neighboring states as somehow a signal that we’re out of the woods, when that’s far from the truth.”
Polis again said his office has not ruled out a statewide mask mandate, but said that local counties and municipalities have a much higher ability to enforce mask orders through local police, deputies and health agencies than the state does.
Several municipalities have a mask mandate, including the City and County of Denver, Boulder and Golden. But some don’t, like Douglas County, which recently decided to break away from Tri-County Health over their mask mandate.
Jeffco is the latest metro-area health department to require the face coverings. All residents of and visitors to the county over the age of 4, with some health-related exemptions, will have to wear face coverings in most public settings starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The governor brought up the troubles neighboring states are having curtailing recent spikes in cases, mentioning a 43-page obituary section in a Houston newspaper as a dire warning for Coloradans.
“Thankfully so far, Coloradans are doing better than friends there,” he said. “Our case count is relatively low, but we have to do a little better. We want to maintain this progress.”
The state has recorded nearly 1,600 deaths to the virus and over 1,700 deaths among cases.