Politico magazine featured this headline a few days ago: “What Colorado Is Doing Good About Reopening.”
The DC-based publication noted that “Colorado was the first Democrat-led state to reopen after a coronavirus blockade, and has so far avoided new spikes of infection that are spreading across the West. Their measured focus could be a lesson for the country on how to reopen effectively. “
In fact, rates are increasing across the South and West at the moment, especially Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California. According to recent statistics, Arizona has become the epicenter of a “second peak,” with one in five people testing positive for the virus.
Nationwide, the number of infections set a new daily record on Friday, 45,000, a number higher than the peak of the virus in April.
And while Colorado also saw an increase in cases this week, the state has not experienced the kind of increase seen in other states in the South and West. The number of new cases of coronavirus in Colorado remains well below the peak in April.
What has Colorado done well that other states have been wrong?
• Something that Politico pointed out is that the reopening of Governor Jared Polis has been slow and methodical. The cop was limited when restaurants and other businesses could reopen, initially only allowing for curbside pickup in stores, then opening them with capacity limits and cookouts, and gradually increasing the limit on the number of people allowed in the inside. Polis also allowed different areas of the state to open at their own pace, with state approval according to strict testing criteria and safety precautions. The Arizona governor reopened the state at once and prevented local officials from setting their own rules. The Arizona governor announced Friday that he will close his bars again and put the reopening on hiatus after further spikes in the cases. Texas closed its bars again and put its reopening on pause as well.
• Colorado benefits from a relatively young, healthy and active population, which means that fewer people with underlying health problems make them susceptible to the virus. The CDC ranks us as the least obese state in the nation.
• Our Governor wears his mask on each public presser foot and pushes on the use of the mask whenever possible. Texas is among several states, including Arizona, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina, whose governors have resisted mask requirements statewide, leaving the decision to local authorities. On Friday, Colorado Springs and the El Paso County Department of Public Health launched a joint campaign to encourage Colorado Springs residents and visitors to “mask” and remain vigilant.
• Dr. Eric Toner, Principal Investigator, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Safety in Baltimore, told the Colorado Sun that states that have not maintained control of the virus after the reopening tend to have weaker health care systems where many people struggle to access care. Colorado has specifically attempted to bring coronavirus testing sites to disadvantaged communities.
• Local economist Tatiana Bailey believes that the main reason Colorado is ahead of the Sunbelt is because we are so much more outside at this time of year. “It’s hot enough in the Sunbelt that the people are much farther in there,” Bailey said.
There is a strong consensus among experts that it is much more difficult to detect the virus outside than inside. With fresh air and more space between people, the risk decreases dramatically. And air conditioning can be a dangerous recirculator of the virus.
A recent study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, examined outbreaks in 320 Chinese cities outside of Hubei province, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated, from January 4 to February 11, and found only one outbreak. that happened outdoors.
“It definitely extends more indoors than outdoors,” Roger Shapiro, a professor at Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health, told The Hill. “The virus droplets disperse so quickly in the wind that they don’t become a factor if you’re not very close to someone outdoors, say within 6 feet.”
State epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy highlighted Colorado’s relatively successful approach this week.
“We have been fortunate here in Colorado to suppress this virus and we have low levels of transmission,” he said at a news conference with the governor. “There are several neighboring states that are experiencing increases.”
But Colorado is not yet out of the woods.
Colorado residents still need to wear face masks and practice social distancing to ensure the state doesn’t see a peak, Polis said during the same press conference.
“All of our earnings could be reversed very quickly if we are not careful,” he said. “The best advice really is that, while you interact with people, whether they are neighbors, friends or if you go to the store, it just acts as if everyone could have coronavirus.”
He is monitoring neighboring states, concerned that the peaks there may spread here.
“We cannot let the good news give us a false sense of security. We see that some of our neighboring states, Arizona and Utah, are moving the wrong way. “
Apache County throughout the Four Corners region has the highest case rate in Arizona at about 2,628 cases per 100,000 people.
San Juan County, Utah, which borders southwestern Colorado, has the highest case rate in Utah (about 2,220 cases per 100,000 people).
New Mexico is in the same situation as Utah and Arizona with an increasing number of cases.
If Colorado follows a few steps ahead of its neighbors, are there closed borders in our future?
All Polis has said on the subject is this: “The virus does not understand state borders.”