Governor’s COVID Response Update 4-9-2021
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April 9, 2021
STATE EXPERTS DISCUSS COVID IN COLORADO
Governor Polis was joined by CDPHE Incident Commander Scott Bookman, State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France. They provided an update on the great progress we’ve made over the last 13 months to build our own inventory of lifesaving resources and rapidly scale up COVID-19 testing capacity, discussed how a “fourth wave” on the horizon will look different in Colorado, and provided an update on vaccine safety.
JOHNSON & JOHNSON AT DICK’S SPORTING GOODS PARK
On Wednesday, multiple patients experienced adverse reactions after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Community Vaccination Site. Out of an abundance of caution, the site was closed for the remainder of the day. Patient reactions included paleness, dizziness, and nausea. CDC and FDA staff reviewed the vaccine log numbers to make sure there were no other events happening similar to this one. Ultimately, these reactions are not a cause for concern, but are instead the typical reactions people can have with vaccinations.
Anxiety is common when receiving a vaccine or any kind of medical procedure. To calm nerves and help avoid adverse reactions following vaccination, Dr. France advises Coloradans to stay hydrated, bring a snack, and bring a friend or family member to your appointment for support if needed.
The State knows that instances like this can create uncertainty around getting the vaccine. Health providers monitor patients for fifteen minutes after vaccination just for this reason, to make sure that people who experience reactions can get the help and guidance they need immediately and on site. And medical experts and providers across the state are taking all necessary precautions to ensure that the vaccine is safe for Coloradans.
13 MONTHS LATER
Today marks 13 months and 4 days since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Colorado on March 5th, 2020 — and 14 months since the first case was reported in Colorado. Even before the first COVID-19-caused death was reported in Colorado, we could see very clearly the potential for disaster due to a failure from the previous federal administration to equip states with the tools needed to fight back against this deadly virus.
The Governor applauds Coloradans for doing their part from the start by wearing masks and practicing social distancing, which helped prevent our health care facilities from becoming overwhelmed.
At the same time, heart-wrenching images of our frontline heroes flooded social media from across the world. They were forced to wear makeshift PPE, such as “capes” made from non-medically approved materials — and in a lot of cases, trash bags.
We could not let this become the story of Colorado’s healthcare heroes.
In response, we acted quickly to rapidly build Colorado’s emergency stockpile the best way we know how, centering our efforts around innovation and collaboration. Our Innovation Response Team worked closely with CDPHE and emergency management leaders to get the supplies we urgently needed to reveal a once-invisible enemy through large-scale detection, and procure reliable, trusted, high-quality personal protective equipment — including medical devices like surgical loop masks, N95 and KN95 masks, ventilators, and COVID-19 PCR testing supplies like reagent and swabs.
BUILDING OUR OWN STOCKPILE
Incident Commander Scott Bookman shared details on how Colorado has creatively managed its own supply chain of PPE equipment and testing supplies.
We received hundreds, thousands of promising leads. With an influx so large, there was bound to be some fraud. That’s why we designed a system for sorting and accountability. We refused to pay until we could certify their legitimacy, saving Coloradans millions of dollars that other states had lost by paying up front for defective — and dangerous supplies.
Colorado also made dramatic changes to our State Labs’ capabilities to fill the need for vetting COVID-19 testing supplies and testing their effectiveness and safety.
Colorado’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) worked with the Colorado Information Analysis Center to conduct non-criminal background checks and implemented methods to identify and avoid fraudulent supplies.
Not only did we do background checks and hold payment until receipt, we tested products before purchasing. The State partnered with Colorado State University to rigorously test masks and other PPE materials to certify safety, effectiveness, and functionality.
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
Once these products passed the test and we knew they would provide the best protection to our frontline healthcare workers, we coordinated with the medical community to meet their needs in real time.
The Innovation Response Team adapted EMResource to develop a statewide supplies reporting and tracking system for hospitals, long term care facilities, and EMS. Using the new and improved EMResource Evolution, the State was able to gain daily situational awareness, and work fast to get supplies to facilities based on essential information like ICU and medical surgical bed shortages, PPE supply (masks, gowns, gloves, etc), staffing shortages, and medical therapeutics on hand.
Additionally, CDPHE continues to work closely with the Colorado Hospital Association and local public health agencies to enhance communication specific to hospitalization data.
- We’ve entered into long term contracts with more traditional suppliers like Honeywell and 3M to prepare for the future and have long term stockpile: DHSEM secured two warehouses to store the PPE purchased for the state and the supplies provided by our federal partners.
- We hired warehouse managers and engaged members of the Colorado National Guard to manage the inventory and to ship resource orders throughout the state to meet the needs of local partners.
- We provided KN95 masks to all school staff from August through the Thanksgiving break as an initial push to support.
- The second round of mask distribution was completed in December.
- A third distribution began this past January where we distributed two surgical masks and one KN95 per week for each staff member in schools through May.
Over the course of this pandemic, we have found innovative solutions to meet the demand. Looking to the future, we are well-stocked and prepared to protect our health care workers and all Coloradans.
BINAX AT-HOME PROGRAM
Testing has been at the core of Colorado’s COVID response strategy from the beginning and now we are scaling up our ability to make free, rapid COVID-19 tests more accessible to more Coloradans than ever before.
Today, Governor Polis announced that free, at home COVID-19 tests, via Binax At-Home, will now be offered to all public-facing workers. Anyone who is required to interact with the public as part of their employment, including but not limited to events and hospitality industry workers, delivery and truck drivers, gym staff, and real estate agents, can now receive an at-home COVID test.
Signing up is as easy as having an email address. If you’re a public-facing employee get your at-home tests by:
- Applying to order tests using this Google Form
- Receive a confirmation email within one business day from CDPHE, which will include a link to order a kit, free of charge, directly to your home.
- When you get your kit, log onto a telehealth portal and receive guided instruction by a trained representative from eMed, one of the nation’s leading digital health providers. Telehealth services are available in English and Spanish.
Test kits contain six tests per box — that’s one month of tests at a recommended interval of testing every five days, and the best part, results are available in just 20 minutes. No more waiting days or even hours for a result. Individuals are eligible to re-order their next Binax At-Home testing kit 20 days after their previous order.
Binax At-Home tests have been offered to educators and other student-facing employees since February, as well as food industry workers, and will continue to be available to those who want one.
The Governor is proud of Colorado’s commitment to swiftly implement and responsibly fund an effective layered safety approach in order to get our students back in the classroom and our economy up and running as we work to build back stronger.
As Colorado rapidly scales up our capacity to vaccinate more people ages 16 and older, this program is more important than ever in order to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.
THE FOURTH WAVE
Like many other states, Colorado is seeing a steady increase in cases. It appears we have entered our 4th wave of illness.
Colorado has confirmed:
- 1,472 cases of the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant of concern
- 24 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant of concern
- 488 cases of the B.1.427/B.1.429 (CA) variant of concern
- 12 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant of concern
Currently 43-45% of the specimens the State Lab is testing weekly by whole genome sequencing are the B.1.1.7 variant, another 18-20% are the B.1.427/B.1.429 variant
The State is currently using all the tools available to protect public health and mitigate the spread of the variants.
This wave is looking a little different. While a segment of our population is protected through vaccination, we are starting to see variants of concern and lower vaccination rates among younger Coloradans impact our trends:
- In those over 50 where we have a more highly vaccinated population, we are seeing lower rates of infections and hospitalizations.
- In those under 50 where a smaller percentage of the population is vaccinated, there are increasing rates of infections and hospitalizations.
- This is an important reminder that severe infections can and are occurring in younger populations.
We have made incredible progress in vaccinating Coloradans 50 and older, because we know this group is at higher risk of COVID-19 complications, hospital admissions and even death. Just last week we reached the goal of vaccinating 80% of Coloradans 70 and older, and we continue moving full steam ahead to get these folks the protection they need — keeping case counts for this group from surging like many others.
As we see a sharp rise in cases and hospital admissions for Coloradans under 50, we can prevent backsliding if more people ages 18 to 50 years old get the vaccine.
So please, get the vaccine as soon as you’re able to. If you’re a younger Coloradan who thinks you’re not at risk because of your age, we encourage you to think again. This virus, while often not as deadly for younger, healthier people, doesn’t discriminate and can have lasting effects.
We don’t need to “ride” another wave of this virus.
All Coloradans, regardless of age and especially if they have not received the vaccine yet need to take precautions until these concerning trends stabilize, including:
• Wearing masks
• Social distancing
• Washing hands
• Staying at home when sick or after an exposure
• Getting tested
• Getting a vaccine as soon as one is available to you
POWER THE COMEBACK
Today the Governor announced the launch of Power the Comeback /Crea el Futuro en español, a new vaccine information and outreach campaign run by CDPHE to help ensure everyone knows how to access life saving vaccines, and empowers Coloradans with the facts.
The vaccine is one of the best strategies we have to protect ourselves, and our loved ones against getting and spreading COVID-19. Now that everyone 16 and older is eligible to receive the vaccine in Colorado, community input and participation will be key to achieving immunity on a larger scale.
Coloradans from diverse backgrounds are sharing why they decided to get the vaccine and importantly, how to make plans in content that will be available on multiple platforms to reach Coloradans where they are.
Campaign videos like this one can be viewed everywhere you get your media — online, radio, TV, and on social media.
To keep Coloradans informed, we’re developing a texting platform. Everyone can opt-in to receiving the latest COVID-19 vaccine information by texting “Vaccine” for English or “Vacuna” de texto para español to 1-855-355-4566.
This is your shot, Colorado. We stand ready to get you the best information, so you can feel confident about getting the vaccine and empowering others to do the same.
DIAL 3.0 REGIONAL COORDINATION
The Governor reminded Coloradans today that the Dial system will evolve from a statewide public health order to locally managed and local ordinances on April 16th.
Local governments will be able to make the best decisions based on their communities’ needs through the Dial and better adapt their response.
The Governor strongly supports regional coordination in counties with LPHAs and communities, and State teams will continue working closely with local entities to develop plans that help communities tailor their response.
STAY THE COURSE TO FLATTEN THE CURVE
Until more Coloradans can get the vaccine, we should continue to do our part, keeping ourselves and each other safe by:
- Wearing masks
- Staying six feet apart
- And if you choose to gather with others, do so outside in small groups
Stay the course a little longer, Colorado. We have every tool at our disposal to flatten the curve so we can sooner lead fuller lives.
Office of Governor Polis
200 E. Colfax, State Capitol, Denver, CO 80203
200 E Colfax, State Capitol, Denver, CO 80203