December 18, 2020

VACCINE UPDATE

Today Governor Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19 and discussed mental health practices during the holiday season. He was joined by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist, and Aimee Voth Siebert, Disaster Behavioral Health Lead at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

This week has been full of exciting news surrounding vaccine distribution. On Monday, Colorado received our first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine, and next week we are hopeful to receive our first shipment of the Moderna vaccines.

Sharing the news that the Pfizer vaccine vial, which was only labeled to contain five doses, actually yields a sixth dose when administered with precision, the Governor explained that this extra dose is an incredible, life-saving opportunity to increase our supply of the vaccine in Colorado by 20%. This means we can get even more people vaccinated sooner.

Additionally, the Governor sent a letter to vaccine providers asking them to use the sixth dose.

The State was expecting another allocation today of 67,860 vaccines, but we learned this week that Operation Warp Speed’s leadership has made a decision that changes the amount originally expected:

  • Colorado’s next Pfizer allocation is expected to be 39,780 doses;
  • 25,740 will be transferred to the CDC Pharmacy Partnership Program to support on-site vaccinations for Colorado’s skilled nursing facilities;
  • 14,040 Pfizer vaccine doses will be assigned to providers; and
  • Moderna vaccines will stay the same at 95,600 doses.

5 STAR STATE CERTIFICATION PROGRAM

Governor Polis announced earlier this week that CDPHE has released the final parameters for the 5 Star State Certification Program for restaurants, for which counties can complete applications voluntarily. Qualifying businesses in counties that have chosen to apply for the program are able to expand operations by implementing safety measures beyond what is already required by public health orders and guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Depending on the county’s level and metrics, certified businesses may be eligible for less restrictive capacity caps, meaning more indoor dining for those who meet the criteria. Again, this is an entirely voluntary program for local governments to participate in. CDPHE began accepting applications from counties today. 

Whether or not this program is the right fit for any particular county, this is a great way to support communities by ordering takeout and delivery from restaurants, which ultimately helps our local businesses keep their doors open during this particularly difficult stretch.

MENTAL HEALTH HELP

Aimee Voth Siebert, Disaster Behavioral Health Lead at CDPHE, joined the Governor today to share helpful resources for Coloradans who are facing mental health challenges right now.

The Governor recognizes how challenging this year has been and knows that throughout this pandemic, Coloradans have experienced increased feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. These feelings are traditionally exacerbated during the holidays, but particularly this year as we are physically apart from many of our loved ones.

According to the Office of eHealth Innovation, there has been a 600% increase in telemedicine use for anxiety, depression, and substance use.  

Mental health care is just as important as any physical health care, and we want to ensure that Coloradans know how to access that care.

If you are experiencing a crisis or need someone to talk to, please reach out to Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255. 

Staying connected is key and being physically apart does not have to mean disconnection. You can find resources below:

  • Health First Colorado: Colorado’s Medicaid Program – Visit healthfirstcolorado.com
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Find services near you at findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
  • Colorado Spirit Crisis Counseling – These crisis counselors are here to help those impacted by COVID-19. They can help individuals understand and reduce stress and help families who have lost a loved one. Visit covid19.colorado.gov/crisis-counseling-program for counseling services.
  • Colorado Ladders – Colorado Ladders offers substance abuse and mental health treatment. Visit colorado.gov/ladders to find providers and a support network near you.
  • The National Institute of Human Resilience – The University of Colorado Colorado Springs is home to the national institute of human resilience. They offer a grit and resilience course you can take for free at your own pace. Visit nihr.uccs.edu to learn more.

This holiday season is unique and especially hard, which gives us all an even greater reason to be kind to one another.

STAY SAFER AT HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

As 1 out of every 59 Coloradans is infected with COVID-19, we need to do everything we can to continue protecting ourselves and others despite encouraging news of initial shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine arriving in our state. This number is down from 1 in every 41 reported a couple of weeks ago. While this downward trend demonstrates progress made in flattening the curve, we cannot let up now.

The most rapid path to saving lives and going back to in-person learning is preventing a Christmas and New Year’s Eve spike. 

Dr. Herlihy and the Governor encourage Coloradans to take these three key steps to continue slowing the spread:

  1. When possible, only interact in-person with people from your household, which is defined as those who normally live and sleep under the same roof.
  2. Keep your distance – at least 6 feet at all times.
  3. Wear a mask if you must go out in public. Taking these steps helps Colorado change the concerning trends we’ve experienced over the last couple of months, and continuing this behavior over the next few weeks is going to be crucial to preventing disease transmission and loss of life.

We have all sacrificed so much, but if we can stay on track, we can make in-person learning a reality for Colorado’s kids — something our kids and parents both need.

Next year, Coloradans can get back to old traditions. This year, we will need to be cautious and get creative:

  • If you do choose to celebrate with people outside your home, start quarantining two weeks before;
  • Shop locally; and
  • Utilize curbside pickup to avoid the crowds or order online.

For holiday tips to celebrate virtually, visit covid19.colorado.gov/for-coloradans/winter-holiday-tips.

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