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COVID-19 looms large as ski season sputters to a start in Colorado

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November 27, 2020, 9:19 am

As COVID-19 cases surge across Colorado and the nation, Gov. Jared Polis is quarantined due to the disease and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock deals with his Thanksgiving travel backlash, Vail officials are increasingly concerned about the status of an already uncertain ski season.

Both Vail and Beaver Creek are open for the 2020-21 season, with limited early-season terrain, but the valley-wide chamber of commerce organization Vail Valley Partnership this week warned personal behavior could cause all of that to come crashing down.

Gov. Jared Polis
Gov. Jared Polis

“Vail Valley – Our ski season and our livelihoods are on the line,” the Vail Valley Partnership tweeted on Tuesday. “It’s time to act now before it’s too late to save our ski season. Take the pledge to Save Our Season at SaveOurSeason.org/vailvalley.”

The global pandemic that’s claimed more than a million lives worldwide abruptly shut down Colorado’s ski season in March.

Wednesday evening, Polis, who issued that shutdown order, learned that he was exposed to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, prompting him to immediately take a test that turned out to be negative. 

“Per CDC and CDPHE guidance, the Governor has begun quarantine, will be closely monitored, and will be re-tested in the coming days,” the governor’s office reported. “Testing and quarantining helps prevent the spread of COVID. To find a COVID testing site near you go to https://covid19.colorado.gov/testing .”

Meanwhile, Mayor Hancock made national and international headlines for deciding to fly to Mississippi to be with family despite joining Polis last week in urging Coloradans not to travel for the holiday – seen as a potential super-spreader event for the nation that leads the world in coronavirus cases and deaths.

Here’s a press release from the Polis office on the surging number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Colorado:

Today, Governor Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19. He was joined by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist.

“Right now, Coloradans are more likely to contract the virus than ever before. Scientists estimate 1 in 41 Coloradans are contagious right now so if you have even 10 people at a gathering, you face nearly a 1 in 4 changes that someone will be contagious,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We must listen to scientists and leaders like Dr. Fauci who recommend that you only socialize only with members of your immediate household, wear a mask, and stand six feet from others when you have to leave your home.”

“Coloradans, we all want to be with our loved ones and we will be able to do so again more safely soon. I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving,” Governor Polis added.

Governor Polis shared that hospital capacity is becoming troubling as over the last two weeks, with 31 hospitals anticipating they have a staffing shortage in the next week alone. Colorado is also starting to approach nearly double the number of daily hospitalizations reported than we did in the Spring. More people in Colorado are hospitalized due to COVID-19 than ever before. As of today, more than 10% of our hospitals are predicting they will exceed their ICU capacity within the next week and will have to rely on other hospitals to manage their surge.

Dr. Herlihy pointed out that hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to climb. On the current trajectory, the state will exceed ICU bed capacity in January. On the current trajectory, we may experience 6,600 deaths by the end of the year — and more, if distancing is reduced over the holidays. Dr. Herlihy reminded Coloradans to follow the three key rules:

  1. Do not gather with individuals outside your household, including on Thanksgiving
  2. Wear a mask any time you leave your home
  3. Ensure you are 6ft apart any time you are around people not in your household

While Colorado works to contain the pandemic, the Governor wants to ensure that Colorado’s kids receive a quality education, which is why Governor Polis shared that he is convening a working group to provide input on how Colorado’s kids can return to in person learning safely in January.  The working group is still being finalized, and the State is working closely with  stakeholders including teachers, superintendents, elected school boards, health officials, and parents, to develop a diverse group that will help Colorado move forward.

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