As the number of COVID-19 cases in Colorado grows, state leaders and health agencies are ramping up their efforts to educate the public about the importance of wearing a mask and avoiding large gatherings of people.
Gov. Jared Polis announced the launch of a new interactive COVID-19 model of the state of Colorado during a news conference Thursday. The model was developed by the Colorado School of Public Health to help individuals, businesses and local governments visualize their own role in stopping the spread of COVID-19 across the state.
Coloradans can use the model to see how different factors, such as wearing a mask, can change the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado in the future.
The state health department announced 452 new cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. Almost 60% of the state has a mask ordinance in place, and the governor’s office estimates that 70% of Colorado residents wear a mask when they need to. But for Polis, it “ain’t enough.”
“If you want to lower the unemployment rate and bring professional sports back, wear a mask,” Polis said.
Masks are more effective than originally projected despite the lack of a coordinated effort to enforce masks in the Untied States, Polis said. While he doesn’t have the power to enforce masks at the state or national level, Polis said he can’t make it any more clear how important it is.
“Wear a damn mask,” Polis yelled, while leaning over a lectern.
The Colorado COVID-19 model will help people understand the impact they can have at the individual level.
With the new model, users can alter the parameters to see what would happen if 20-year-olds didn’t wear masks, or what would happen if people 65 and above did not stay home or avoid gatherings.
The tool also includes up-to-date data on the state’s efforts to trace contact between people who have the virus.
“We have to live with the president and the administration we have,” Polis said, calling out President Donald Trump’s lack of leadership in unifying states to combat the virus.
Colorado’s economic recovery is only as good as its public health response, Polis said. The main transmission point for the virus was bars, which the state closed again one week ago.
“If it’s not enough to save your family and friends’ lives, it’s also an economic issue,” Polis said.
He pointed to a new study from Goldman Sachs that shows if everyone wore a mask nationwide, it would save 5% of the national GDP, which is about a trillion dollars of economic activity.
“This is the summer of no parties,” Polis said.
He called on people in their 20s and 30s, as well as in their teens, to “go to the park with four friends” instead.
“If you’re 17, you shouldn’t be drinking anyway,” Polis said.
Next phase of reopeningPolis signed the Protect Our Neighbors Executive Order on Thursday, which directs the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to allow local governments to apply to enter into the next phase of reopening – Protect Our Neighbors.
To qualify, the county must submit a containment and mitigation plan for what it would do if cases started to rise again.
Polis also announced that the federal government extended the application period for the Paycheck Protection Program until Aug. 8, as there is $129 billion remaining that can be used as forgivable loans for small businesses that need aid.
“Our country still hasn’t gotten out of the first wave,” Polis said.