Gov. Jared Polis has announced a statewide fund to help victims of this year's wildfires. (Gazette file photo)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will update Coloradans on the state's COVID-19 crisis at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

The press conference will be broadcast live on his Facebook page. You can follow along here for live coverage.

The press conference comes on the heels of the state's largest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases: a jump of nearly 1,200 to 4,591, announced Thursday.

The presence of the virus in the state is such that contact tracing is no longer possible for all cases, said Eric France, the state's chief medical officer, at a virtual news conference Thursday, likening the virus' rapid spread to a coal train barreling through the state.

"We all have to do what we can with what we have today," he said.

"Certainly, what's on my mind is the day when ICU capacity is overwhelmed, and I would have to activate a potential crisis plan of care for hospitals," he added, referencing a state plan that would guide hospitals in determining who should receive treatment in case of a resource shortage.

Measures state and local governments are taking to quell the rise in cases of the sometimes deadly virus are "really all about preventing a terrible time when triage might have to happen in our hospitals," he said.

If the virus continues growing unabated, that plan will need to be activated in December, when hospital capacity is expected to be exceeded, he added.

"Decisions will have to be made about which of us gets the ICU bed," he said.

On Thursday, France reported nearly 5,200 new cases, though slightly more than 600 of those cases were from a past date.


- Polis announced 6,439 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The death total sits at 2,234, he added.

- The United States hit 194,610 cases on Friday and will likely hit 200,000 within the next day or two, Polis said.

- Over a million Coloradans have opted in to receiving exposure notifications via the state's recently launched app, Polis said.

- Over 17% of the state's population has opted in, Polis said. This should lead to an 8% reduction in infections and 6% reduction in deaths based on surpassing the 15% mark, according to research out of Oxford, Polis said.

- The state Emergency Operations Center has been ordered to return to level 1, the highest level of operation, Polis said. We were previously at that level from March 1 through the end of May, he said.

- We have 1,159 hospitalized for COVID-19, Polis said, adding that if the hospital system is overwhelmed, "people will die who could have been saved," including non-COVID deaths.

- "A lot of planning and work has gone into the last six months to get us to where we are today, to a better capacity to care for those who are ill," he said.

- Polis said he'd be signing an executive order regarding surge capacity. Hospitals need to increase internal capacity, then consider suspending elective procedures. "It could get to an outright moratorium on elective procedures," he said. "If patient load continues to surge after [those steps], then we will support inner-hospital transfer system. The final piece is to utilize alternative care sites," he said, for non-emergency or ICU cases, allowing hospitals to convert non-ICU beds to ICU beds. Some hospitals are already needing the inner-hospital transfer system, he added. The order clearly establishes the prioritization hospitals must undergo before requesting use of alternative care sites. By Wednesday hospitals must submit their surge capacity to the state and a plan by Nov. 20. Hospitals will be updating the state at 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. on capacity, he said.

- "I continue to hope that we will not use" alternative care sites, "but we are prepared to activate them, if necessary, and we are a lot closer to that today than we were two weeks ago, four weeks ago, and we stand by ready for action." The Colorado Convention Center in Denver could open with 80 beds and expand to 200  beds over a month. St. Mary Corwin in Pueblo could open with 25 and expand to 240. St. Antony in Westminster could open with 25 beds and expand to 78. They're non-ICU beds with oxygen capacity, he said. "There is a higher likelihood those might need to be activated. It's still something in our hands, in your hands, if we show the resolve to do so."

- Coloradans who will attend family holiday gatherings outside their household should begin quarantine today, he said, adding that such gatherings are not advisable. However, not all individuals invited to gatherings may quarantine, he warned.

- Shopping at stores is still relatively safe, he said. This is spread largely through 10-15 minute interactions indoors, he added.

This is a developing story and will be updated.


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