Older Coloradans and those with underlying health conditions are at much higher risk for serious health complications from COVID-19, Gov. Jared Polis reiterated today, and should stay home as much as possible for the foreseeable future.
Polis made the comments at a Thursday press briefing about the state’s response to COVID-19.
“We know there are people living among us who have a 10 or 20 times higher risk, simply because of their age and simply because they might have a respiratory condition,” Polis said.
“It was difficult for all of us to stay at home in April … but it is particularly difficult for those who are looking at another month, and hopefully finding ways that they can largely stay at home in June, who are older Coloradans and those with pre-existing conditions.
“And that’s difficult. But I know Coloradans of all ages love life. We cherish life. We want to protect our lives. And that’s the decision that so many older Coloradans are making today.”
Polis said he hopes people are having frank conversations with their older friends and loved ones, letting them know “how much we love them, how much we look forward to seeing them and how we want them to be with us for many, many years, and that our behavior over this next month is really going to really affect the risks of how well we can make sure that they stay healthy through this.”
Polis gave updates on testing throughout the state, saying Colorado has doubled the number of epidemiologists addressing the pandemic and that the state is working with individual counties to increase testing capacity.
He also said that the state’s new symptom tracker tool has already been used by more than 2,000 Coloradans.
“It provides our state with crucial epidemiological data about what’s going on where, and who has what symptoms, so that we can better craft targeted responses to this virus,” Polis said.
“And it’s really important … if you have any symptoms that are cold- or flu-like symptoms, please put them in the symptom tracker tracker at covid19.colorado.gov.”
Polis also announced that the state’s Facility Task Force has completed 747 infection control surveys, including a survey of every nursing home in the state.
The state has received 1,048 isolation plans from congregate care facilities, that outline protocols those facilities will implement if one of their patients tests positive for COVID-19.
Through Wednesday, Colorado had reported 25,121 cases of COVID-19, resulting in 4,254 hospitalizations and 1,421 deaths among cases. There are 1,168 deaths directly attributed to COVID-19.
Since May 15, the state has differentiated deaths among cases — meaning they tested positive for COVID-19 but it may not have been listed as the cause of death on their death certificate — from those whose confirmed to have died from the disease.
In El Paso County, there have been 1,636 recorded cases of COVID-19, with 88 deaths among cases.
Also on Thursday, UCHealth announced it is now offering COVID-19 testing and antibody tests for anyone in Colorado.
In a statement, the health system said the COVID-19 PCR test, conducted by nasal swab, is able to determine if someone is currently sick with the novel coronavirus and is appropriate for someone who has symptoms of the virus.
The antibody test, done by drawing blood, can determine whether someone has been exposed to or been sickened from the virus in the past.
Tests are available in two ways: Any UCHealth provider can order the tests for their patients, or patients may schedule the tests through UCHealth’s My Health Connection portal.
Anyone who is not a current UCHealth patient can create an account through My Health Connection and schedule testing. UCHealth is charging $100 for the COVID-19 antibody test and $85 for the PCR (nasal swab) test.
While most health insurance plans will cover the cost of testing, patients are encouraged to check with their insurance company for coverage details.
UCHealth’s statement does note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that many antibody tests are not accurate and have not been approved by the FDA, but states the antibody tests UCHealth is providing have been evaluated by the FDA and “far exceed the agency’s requirements for accuracy and specificity.”