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Gov. Jared Polis speaks to reporters at the Colorado Convention Center on Friday, April 10, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

These days, Gov. Jared Polis is more like a firefighter than an executive. He spends his time trying to keep the coronavirus blaze at bay, dousing the flames before they can flare out of control.

“There’s about a million fires every day,” he said. “Every moment there’s something going on, because it’s a constant race for the protection equipment we need for our workers — to make sure we have the plans in place for people to be safe and not become a huge outbreak spot.”

But on April 16, he spent most of his day trying to plan for the future, when Coloradans can get back to work and back to some semblance of normalcy. Polis was working to scale up testing by securing more swabs and reagents and putting together safety protocols to prevent COVID-19 from spreading out of control once restrictions start to be lifted.

YouTube video
Video by Maria De Cambra, Special to The Colorado Sun. Editing by Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun.

On a call with Stephen Hahn, head of the Food and Drug Administration, he discussed allowing q-tips to be used for testing instead of swabs and the lack of availability of testing reagent to complete tests. Swabs are in short supply but high demand.

“The virus is likely to be with us for a while here, so it’s just making those sustainable plans for how we can go about our lives in a way that doesn’t eliminate risk but at least has a reasonable amount of risk,” he said.

The public health officials in his administration have made clear that they don’t want to loosen restrictions on Coloradans’ movement until more testing is available. Polis says he wants to get people back to work as soon as possible, calling his own mandates “severe.”


The latest from the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado:

  • MAP: Cases and deaths in Colorado.
  • TESTINGHere’s where to find a community testing site. The state is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.
  • VACCINE HOTLINE: Get up-to-date information.


“I’m just making calls and working on the computer all day,” he said.

Those calls included ones with President Donald Trump about reopening plans and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about how to keep kids learning through the pandemic Polis also spoke with Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell to, he says, keep track of what’s happening on the ground.

But he’s also still a father and husband, too.

He was making spaghetti for the family and his dog, Gia, was barking in the background as he spoke to a reporter. Like most Coloradans, he was stuck inside, only leaving the house to brave the snow to take Gia for a walk.

“She did her business,” he said.

And like the rest of us Polis is making himself comfortable while working from his Boulder home. He helps his kids with their distance learning. He walks around his living room while taking work calls. He wears shorts, putting on a shirt and tie for important video calls and television news interviews.

This story is powered by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative. The ColoradoSun joined this historic collaboration with more than 20 other newsrooms across Colorado to better serve the public.

To read more of The Colorado Sun’s coverage from this project, click here.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....