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Politico: The Blue State that Gambled on an Early Reopening

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Written by Politico on May 28, 2020

On April 20, Colorado’s coronavirus curve was still on an upward trajectory, with some 10,000 cumulative cases reported and nearly 450 deaths. That day, the state’s Democratic first-term governor, Jared Polis, stepped in front of American and Colorado flags in the ornate Palm Room of the governor’s mansion and announced his state would be among the first to reopen its economy. 

Polis’ announcement received little notice outside Colorado, but it set the state apart: He moved to lift stay-at-home orders not only well before other Democratic-leaning states, but ahead of Republican-led Georgia, Florida and Texas. 

Polis took a pragmatic, measured approach, keeping Coloradans informed with regular briefings at which he discussed reams of ever-changing data compiled by a Colorado School of Public Health modeling team assembled quickly in the pandemic’s early days. At one such news conference immediately after the stay-at-home order went into effect, the governor warned calmly but urgently that without strict physical distancing measures the state could tally 33,200 deaths by June 1. 

Scientists on the governor’s modeling team echoed caution, stressing that the state has allowed business to resume only with social distancing and cleaning. “This is not a complete reopening,” says Elizabeth Carlton, an epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health and a member of the modeling team. “What our models, and other models, make clear is that there is going to be transmission for the long term. It may be a long time before we can gather together in large groups.” (Gatherings of more than 10 people are still discouraged in the state, though summer day camps can open June 1.)   

Read the full story at Politico.