Mandate, expected to be released late Wednesday night, to take effect Thursday morning.
By Regan Foster
The Southeast Express
Calling it an “extreme measure,” Gov. Jared Polis announced a statewide stay-at-home order that will go into effect at 6 a.m. March 26 and lasting through April 11.
Under the order, which was slated to be released at midnight, Coloradans must stay at home except for necessary business. “Critical businesses” — like grocery stores, health care facilities and shelters — are exempt from the order. These businesses must comply with social distancing requirements.
He also on Wednesday asked President Donald Trump to declare the state a major disaster area, which Polis said will open up federal resources for medical care, housing and disaster management. The governor made both announcements during a press conference that you can see here.
“Now is the time to stay at home,” Polis said. “The numbers are telling us and the data is telling us that while we made progress on increasing social distancing, the progress is not enough.”
Gov. Jared Polis [Courtesy photo/Office of the Governor]
“Look, we requested that Coloradoans follow this step [social distancing] and we cut down workplace density,” the governor said. “And while social isolation has increased … it’s not yet reached the number that we need to save lives and contain the spread of the virus.”
“Our generation is being called upon to sacrifice to save the lives of our fellow Coloradoans and our fellow American. That sacrifice is staying at home.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis
Mayor John Suthers told the Gazetteon Tuesday he did not anticipate issuing such an order for the city unless the state took that step or he received new direction from the El Paso County Department of Health and the Environment. But City Councilmember David Geislinger, speaking remotely during the board’s regular meeting, pushed back with a No. 1 request of stay home.
The council conducted its regular meeting via teleconference that was broadcast live on Facebook and SpringsTV.
“Regardless of what we may want to believe, I’m here to tell you this is very, very, very real and it is very, very, very real here in Colorado Springs,” Geislinger said. “It is not a question of feeling well enough to go out, it is not a question of washing our hands over and over again, it is a question of staying home, not exposing ourselves [to the virus] and not carrying that virus forward.”
Mayor John Suthers
Suthers said in a statement Wednesday: “The City of Colorado Springs will, of course, follow the Governor’s Stay at Home Order announced earlier today. Because the physical order will not be available until late tonight, we cannot yet provide further guidance until we know the specifics and exceptions and exemptions that are or are not included. We will provide further information as soon as it is available from the State.”
During his press conference, Polis explained that many county health departments were responding to the crisis in many different ways. That meant, he said, they were essentially developing a density issue, with more and more people patronizing fewer and fewer retailers or recreation sites.
“Finally, we need time. We need time to build the hospital capacity to acquire the ventilators we need to save lives,” Polis said. “At the peak of the crisis, we expect to need thousands of more hospital beds. We hope by reducing the spread of the virus and having you stay at home, we’re going to be doing that.”
The governor added that the state is acting to minimize the disruption to jobs and the economy.
“By acting boldly now, we can limit the duration of this economic crisis,” he said. “We can effectively contain this virus by engaging in these measures now and returning to normal sooner, as opposed to later.”
Under the terms of the order, Polis said, residents may leave their homes for activities critical to survival, such as getting food, seeking medical care, caring for a family member or a high-risk individual in another location, or caring for a pet, Polis said. Workers in designated critical careers may also leave home in order to get to and from work, he said.
“Our generation is being called upon to sacrifice to save the lives of our fellow Coloradoans and our fellow Americans,” he said. “That sacrifice is staying at home.”
Southeast Express and Colorado Springs Independent reporter Faith Miller contributed to this report.