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Polis: Stricter Social Distancing Rules Likely in Colorado During Coronavirus Outbreak

An empty Stanley Marketplace in Aurora Tuesday afternoon, after Gov. Polis ordered the closure of restaurant dining areas on March 16, 2020.
Stephanie Daniel
An empty Stanley Marketplace in Aurora Tuesday afternoon, after Gov. Polis ordered the closure of restaurant dining areas on March 16, 2020.

Gov. Jared Polis is not ruling out the possibility of ordering some Colorado residents to shelter in place to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Speaking to reporters from a podium that was wiped down with disinfecting wipes in a state Capitol building that is closed to the public indefinitely, Polis said stricter social distancing rules will likely be announced soon.

"If we're going to endure, if we're going to get through this, we need to figure out how to accurately and correctly be doing social distancing while allowing as much normalcy as possible," he said. "We need to act now. We need to act boldy. But we want to figure out what would be sustainable for weeks, or months."

"You can't shut down everything forever," he added. 

The state's current recommendation is to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. Polis is encouraging people to stay connected online and over the phone.

As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state approached 200 on Wednesday, Polis also said it is "increasingly unlikely" that students will return to classrooms this school year.

"We want to make sure that just because in-person learning is suspended in most if not all of the state, that doesn't mean learning is suspended," he said. "We still have those teachers. We still have great staff. We still have the kids that need to learn. And we want to make sure they don't sacrifice ... a third of a year of academic achievement."

Polis has already taken a number of dramatic actions to help curb the spread of the virus in Colorado.

They include the closure of all of the state's ski areas, a 30-day closure of all dining areas of restaurants and bars and a 30-day closure of theaters, gyms and casinos.

Copyright 2020 KUNC

Scott Franz is a government watchdog reporter and photographer from Steamboat Springs. He spent the last seven years covering politics and government for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, a daily newspaper in northwest Colorado. His reporting in Steamboat stopped a police station from being built in a city park, saved a historic barn from being destroyed and helped a small town pastor quickly find a kidney donor. His favorite workday in Steamboat was Tuesday, when he could spend many of his mornings skiing untracked powder and his evenings covering city council meetings. Scott received his journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an outdoorsman who spends at least 20 nights a year in a tent. He spoke his first word, 'outside', as a toddler in Edmonds, Washington. Scott visits the Great Sand Dunes, his favorite Colorado backpacking destination, twice a year. Scott's reporting is part of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.
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