DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis pleaded with residents Thursday to wear masks and reduce social interactions as state health officials reported that hospitalizations from the coronavirus have reached the highest level since the pandemic began.
“Colorado, I love you. This is an intervention,” Polis said during a virtual news conference. “Cancel your social plans the next few weeks, avoid interacting with others. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Let’s get through this.”
About 121,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Colorado, and 3,369 cases were reported Wednesday, a record daily high. The virus has killed 2,158 people since it started its onslaught on the state in the spring.
The governor said 894 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — surpassing the state’s peak of 888 patients in April.
Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said the spike in cases could be the result of people letting their guard down because of “COVID fatigue” and because they are spending more time indoors as cooler weather sets in.
“Every week, our hospitalizations increase faster than the week before and are projected to reach higher levels,” Herlihy said. “In short, we are moving in the wrong direction.”
She warned that Colorado’s hospitals could exceed capacity in their intensive-care units by the end of the year and could become overwhelmed sooner if people aren’t careful during the holidays.
Polis skirted questions about whether he would issue a statewide stay-at-home order in advance of Thanksgiving and if he would impose restrictions on out-of-state visitors, including mandatory quarantine.
“Everybody we interact with, we should treat as if they’re contagious with coronavirus,” he said. “It’s not about where they’re from. It’s about the precautions that we need: the mask wearing, the distancing and avoiding social interactions with people who are visiting from Chicago just as we do with people who are living in Aurora.”
For most people, the new 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.