CENTENNIAL — Gov. Jared Polis on Friday asked all Coloradans to begin wearing masks when they leave home to prevent further spread of the new coronavirus as the number of people killed by the disease in the state hit at least 112.
Polis said at a news conference at the state’s Emergency Operations Center that people should wash their masks after every trip out of their homes either in a washing machine or with hot water in their sinks. He said people should use cloth-based, non-medical masks.
“If you’ve been around grocery stores, you’ve noticed that more and more people are wearing cloth masks,” Polis said. “We want everybody in Colorado to do that.”
He encouraged people to make them out of items in their homes, including old T-shirts and scarves.
“At this point, a cloth face mask or scarf should be part of everybody’s personal hygiene practice,” he said. “This is really going to be, for the foreseeable future, an important part of our culture in Colorado. A culture that saves lives and also helps us all return to work sooner rather than later.”
Polis suggested that Coloradans make mask-wearing cool. “Let’s make lemonade out of these lemons,” he said. “It’s about making it cool so others do it.”
Musician Nathaniel Rateliff, who lives in Colorado, even joined the news conference remotely to help spread Polis’ message. “Let’s make wearing masks an everyday thing,” Rateliff said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday also recommended that people wear masks in public. The CDC says that up to 25% of people infected with the coronavirus may be asymptomatic. The face covering is aimed at lowering the risk of the disease spreading through someone who may be sick but not realize it.
More deaths, cases and hospitalizations
The new deaths announced Friday represent an increase of 12 over Thursday. Polis reiterated that the pandemic will continue to worsen in the state before it improves.
There are now more than 4,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in Colorado. More than 800 of those patients are hospitalized.
More than 22,000 people have been tested.
Polis said those numbers will continue to rise for a number of days before the effect of his orders limiting Coloradans’ movement is slowed by the virus. That included a stay-at-home order, which is set to expire on April 11 but that Polis says is likely to be extended.
The governor also announced a host of relaxed tax payment deadlines on Friday to ease the economic burden on businesses hard hit by coronavirus.
- An income tax extension until July 15
- A state sales tax extension until May 20
- A property tax extension until May 1
Penalties won’t be assessed on people who take advantage of the extensions, the governor said.