Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday that despite a downward trend of coronavirus cases in Colorado over the past two weeks, he remained concerned about a possible resurgence of the disease as the state’s economy gradually reopens.
The governor said Colorado has experienced a decrease in new cases in 12 of the past 14 days, but he warned that neighboring states like Arizona and Utah have seen an uptick.
“We’re one run up,” Polis said, using a baseball analogy. “We’re still in the fifth or sixth inning here. We’re one run up, but yes, the bases are loaded. … We have runners on base in Utah and Arizona, and it really depends on our behavior here in the next few weeks and months.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and other state leaders are moving ahead with plans aimed at fueling an economic recovery, even as they grapple with rising positive test rates and a three-week rise in virus case counts.
Utah state epidemiologist Angela Dunn told KSL News Radio on Thursday the percentage of people testing positive has doubled since last month to about 8-10%, an increase she said could not be attributed to more people getting tested.
“Unfortunately, it is a sign that COVID-19 is spreading more readily through our communities,” she said.
In Arizona, the number of known cases of the virus continued to rise, prompting Gov. Doug Ducey to reverse himself by saying local governments could require people to wear face masks.
State health officials reported 2,519 additional cases as of Wednesday, breaking a record daily high increase of 2,392 cases reported Tuesday.
Arizona had the most daily new cases in the nation per capita for a seven-day average through Monday, and the positive rate of people tested for the virus also topped all other states at nearly 16%.
Colorado will soon enter a new phase with loosened social and business restrictions, and individual counties will be able to decide to reopen more businesses or allow larger social gatherings at the end of June or early July.
The new measures would allow indoor and outdoor events or venues like conferences, museums, fairs and concerts to resume. Residential summer camps also would be allowed to open with as many as 10 children in individual indoor settings and 25 outdoors. Bars can open at 25% capacity, or up to 50 people, under the new guidelines.
“This is crunch time, folks. … If we go back to living the way we did in January, in December when we took life for granted, the virus will have exponential growth,” Polis said, reminding residents to continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing as more activities resume.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.