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‘Different than before’: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis talks plans for reopening state, living with coronavirus

Sady Swanson
Fort Collins Coloradoan
Published 7:03 PM EDT Apr 15, 2020

As new coronavirus cases in Colorado appear to plateau, the next few days will be critical in determining if current social distancing is doing enough to begin relaxing restrictions, Gov. Jared Polis said in a news conference Wednesday.

But even if models show social distancing is working, “normal life” for Coloradans will still look different for a long time — months, even — Polis said. 

In Wednesday’s news conference, Polis laid out the basics of a plan to contain the spread of the coronavirus while slowly reopening the economy.

“As we reopen our state, things are going to work different than they did before,” Polis said.

The state is currently in the urgent response phase, where officials are working to build up heath care capacity and everyone is asked to limit in-person interactions as much as possible, Polis said. 

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If new cases in the state — which Polis says are currently plateauing — begin to go down, the state can move into a stabilization phase, where Polis said we learn to live with the virus in a way that is sustainable for our economy and society. 

“We want to dispel any notion that we can go back to the way things were before,” Polis said.

As Colorado continues to adjust to life with the virus, Polis said the goal will be increased testing and containment of people who test positive, rather than quarantining the entire state. Health officials will continue to monitor the virus during the stabilization phase, and restrictions may be reinstated if cases start rising again, Polis said. 

Restrictions won’t be lifted like the flick of a light switch, Polis said, but will be more gradual, like a light dimmer. 

For example, non-essential businesses may open if they establish practices such as wearing masks, maintaining a 6-foot distance from others and limiting person-to-person interactions, Polis said. Large gatherings will remain banned until further notice.

The state model indicates cases will begin to go down once we’ve reached 80% social distancing levels, Polis said. The next five days of data will likely give state health officials the information needed to determine if that level of social distancing has been reached. 

Polis reiterated that the virus will be around for a long time, and until there is a vaccine or treatment, what Coloradans consider “normal life” will not return. 

“(Everyday life will be) not what it was, but better than it is now,” Polis said.

Editor’s note: As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, we don’t want you to panic. In fact, quite the opposite. That’s why the Coloradoan is committed to providing you with accurate, up-to-date information so you can make informed decisions on issues affecting you and the people you love. As such, this story, and many others, are being provided free for all to read. Help us continue this important work by subscribing to the Coloradoan. 

Sady Swanson covers crime, courts, public safety and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support our work and local journalism with a digital subscription at

This content was originally published here.