Governor: Congress passes bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill

Governor Polis applauds congressional action on COVID-19

DENVER – Governor Jared Polis applauded bipartisan congressional action to provide COVID-19 relief:

“Colorado’s hardworking people and small businesses need relief and we are glad Congress is finally considering at least some help. Additional federal direct cash payments of $600 per person and extended unemployment benefits for over 16,000 Coloradans impacted by this pandemic are a welcomed resource,” said Governor Polis. “Ultimately, this package is an important down payment from the federal government for what is needed to help get the nation successfully through the health crisis from the deadly virus and the global recession.”

“I want to thank Senator Bennet for his leadership on securing the extended benefit language in the final package. In addition, I would like to thank the sponsors of SB20B-02, Housing and Direct COVID Emergency Assistance, for their leadership on the bill and especially thank Representative Kipp who brought this issue to our attention, as well as the bill sponsors, Senator Holbert, Gonzalez, and Reps. Exum and Tipper,” said the governor.

The package includes:

  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: Language allowing Unemployment Insurance benefits to continue for over 16,000 Coloradans currently on Extended Benefits (EB), and a $300 per week UI enhancement for Coloradans out of work 
  • $600 in direct payment checks: Direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child
  • $69 billion in funding for vaccines testing and tracing, community health and health care provider support 
  • $325 billion in support for small business: more than $280 billion for PPP loans, $15 billion in funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions and $20 billion for targeted EIDL Grants which are critical to many smaller businesses
  • Rental assistance: $25 billion for rental assistance and an extension of the eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021 
  • $13 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits 
  • $82 billion for education and $10 billion for child care assistance: funding for colleges and schools, and funding for child care assistance to get families back to work 
  • $7 billion in broadband access: funding to increase access to broadband, including to increase telehealth, the tribal broadband fund and funding to complete the broadband maps in order for the government to distribute funding to the areas that need it the most 
  • $10 billion for state highways 
  • $13 billion for farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses due to the pandemic, as well as funds to support the food supply chain 

“I thank Colorado’s federal delegation for their efforts and look forward to working with President-elect Biden and the next congress to ensure Colorado builds back stronger,” concluded Governor Polis.

Governor: Congress passes bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill

Governor Polis takes action in response to COVID-19 pandemic

DENVER – On Friday, Governor Polis took action today in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Polis amended an executive order for the COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration to transfer money from the State Emergency Reserve to the Disaster Emergency Fund to cover the remaining December costs for testing and vaccine distribution due to a delay in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursements. 

Governor Polis has taken bold action to keep people housed during this global pandemic. Gov. Polis today amended and extended an executive order limiting certain evictions to provide relief to Coloradans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This order could be subject to change in order to reflect any Congressional action should the federal government alter the Center for Disease Control and Preventions existing order in a congressional relief package. 

Governor Polis takes action in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Governor Polis provides update on COVID-19, discusses mental health practices for the holiday season

DENVER – Today Governor Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19 and discussed mental health practices during the holiday season. Gov. Polis was joined by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist, and Aimee Voth Siebert, the Disaster Behavioral Health Lead at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“There is hope on the horizon as the vaccine is now in Colorado and being distributed to frontline health care heroes, but it is going to be months before the general population can be vaccinated. So let’s keep doing our part to slow the spread of the virus by wearing masks, staying six feet from others, and avoiding gatherings outside of our household,” said Gov. Polis. “Coloradans are facing mental health challenges as we experience a holiday season unlike any other but help and resources are available to anyone struggling. We can and will get through this challenging time together.” 

Sharing the news that the Pfizer vaccine vial, which was only labeled to contain five doses, actually yields a sixth dose when administered with precision, the Governor explained that this extra dose is an incredible, life-saving opportunity to increase our supply of the vaccine in Colorado by 20%, getting even more people vaccinated sooner. The Governor sent a letter to the vaccine providers asking them to use the sixth dose. 

Governor Polis also announced that earlier this week, the Department of Public Health and Environment released the final parameters for the 5 Star Program for restaurants which counties must apply for. Qualifying businesses in counties that have chosen to stand up this program are able to expand operations by implementing safety measures beyond what is already required by public health orders and guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Depending on the county’s level and metrics, certified businesses may be eligible for less restrictive capacity caps, meaning more indoor dining for those who meet the criteria. This is completely voluntary for local governments to participate in. CDPHE began accepting applications from counties today. 

1 out of every 59 Coloradans is infected with COVID-19. Wearing masks, avoiding social gatherings with people outside your homes, and staying at least six feet away from others is helping Colorado change the concerning trends the state has been experiencing over the last couple months. Continuing this behavior over the next few weeks is going to be crucial to preventing disease transmission and loss of life. 

The Governor acknowledged that he recognizes how challenging this has been and that the state knows that throughout this pandemic, Coloradans have experienced increased feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety and these feelings are traditionally exacerbated during the holidays, but particularly this year as we are away from our loved ones. 

According to the Office of eHealth Innovation, there has been a 600% increase in telemedicine use for anxiety, depression, and substance use. For anyone out there experiencing mental health challenges, please know that you are not alone and there are resources available to get you the support you need. 

Mental health care is just as important as any physical health care, and we want to ensure that Coloradans know how to access that care.

If you are experiencing a crisis or need someone to talk to, please reach out to Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255. 

You can also visit:

The Governor also extended and amended an Executive Order temporarily suspending certain regulatory statutes due to the presence of COVID-19, and extended an Executive Order related to marriage licenses.

Here is today’s presentation

Governor Polis provides update on COVID-19, discusses mental health practices for the holiday season

Gov. Polis provides update on COVID-19 and discusses in-person learning

DENVER – Governor Polis and the State of Colorado released the “Roadmap to In-Person Learning,” a report detailing research around the importance of in-person learning, and strategies and tactics the State is taking to assist with safe, consistent in-person learning at P-12 schools this semester. The governor was joined by Dr. Katy Anthes, Commissioner of Education, Rebecca Holmes and Heath Harmon, Co-Chairs of the “Back-to-School Working Group.” 

“The best investment we can make in the future of our state is in our children and their education. I am committed to ensuring that our children’s education and well-being is not a casualty of this pandemic. Using data, science and transparency, we have identified action steps in key areas that will enable us to open schools safely for in person education while prioritizing the health of students and staff,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Getting all students back to safe and consistent in-person learning is critical to our future and it’s going to take all of us to ensure Colorado kids can safely return to school. It’s not just on our educators and school staff to be safe, but also on students, parents and entire communities to be responsible to save lives and help schools return by wearing masks and avoiding social gatherings.”

The “Roadmap to In-Person Learning” report was informed by the “Back-to-School Working Group,” a diverse group of stakeholders including parents, educators, school leaders, and public health experts. The group met over the past three weeks to discuss best practices and actions the state can take to help students get back to in-person learning as soon as safely possible. Governor Polis also released two cover letters — one for parents and one for educators and school staff

Despite educators’ important efforts to educate students, research shows that academic and social emotional development is suffering. These challenges are greater for students with disabilities, students who are low-income, English language learners, students without access to the internet, and students experiencing homelessness or in foster care. It has also had negative mental health impacts and posed a significant risk to the economy. 

Using data, science and transparency, this report lays out a number of action steps the State will be taking to help all students return to in-person learning this semester. This includes: 

  • Increasing trust and transparency through: 
    • Regular communication with school districts, educators, and parents about disease transmission, emerging resources, and best practices. 
    • Encouraging counties to commit to prioritize in-person learning by considering suspending in-person extracurricular and recreational activities that interfere with cohorting once a county reaches Orange, Red, or Purple on the Dial. 
    • Ensuring in-person, school sponsored activities such as athletics, music, art, and theatre should only occur once full time or hybrid in-person learning is successfully occurring with minimal disruptions. 
    • Providing school data dashboards that are publicly available to ensure public health case and outbreak data is fully transparent and accessible to the public. 
    • Encouraging school districts and schools to prioritize full-time in-person education for the most vulnerable groups, including students with disabilities, students who are low-income, English language learners, students without access to the internet, students experiencing homelessness or in foster care, and children of frontline workers.
  • Preventing and protecting students, families, educators, and staff through: 
    • Continuing to support the CDC, CDPHE, and CDE strong recommendation for all children over the age of 3 to wear a mask. 
    • Because teaching requires constant talking, some educators may prefer a surgical or cloth mask instead of a KN95 mask. The state can continue to provide high quality medical, surgical, or other masks as appropriate for teachers, in-school health care providers, and other members of the school community for different operational or educational needs.
    • Creating evidence-based protocols and supplementary resources for schools to implement symptom screening in the home setting, as recommended by the CDC as well as strategies for in-school screening when home screening is incomplete.
    • Supporting effective cohorting models and protocols to minimize classroom disruptions, and continue to research more effective ways to minimize disruptions from qurantines. 
    • Supporting additional staffing to ensure schools can operate during staff quarantine periods. 
    • Creating resources and tools to improve ventilation in learning spaces including the use of outdoor spaces and outside facing windows remaining open in classrooms.
    • Encouraging hand washing hygiene, cleaning, and disinfecting with appropriate products known to be effective against SARS-CoV-2.
    • Supporting effective models for physical distancing in classrooms.
  • Increasing access to testing and vaccines through: 
    • Continuing to provide resources for testing, particularly in the highest viral prevalence communities such as those counties in Red or Purple, as well as those that have greater challenges in accessing testing. This should include offering regular screening for educators and staff interested, for symptomatic individuals that need a diagnostic test, and for individuals who do not have symptoms but have been quarantined after an exposure. 
    • Supporting additional capacity for contact tracing for schools, which may include contact tracing resources at the State level. 
    • Promoting partnerships between the medical and public health community and school districts to help not just provide testing materials, but also the personnel to administer and manage testing programs and contact tracing when positive cases are identified. Facilitate access to in-person or virtual medical evaluation for ill students, teachers, and staff. 
    • Continuing to prioritize educators and school staff in the phased vaccination prioritization. 
    • Providing clear messaging on the vaccine and its safety, effectiveness, and importance to our return to normalcy, including sharing talking points for schools to share with parents and their communities. This messaging should be in Spanish and other languages common in Colorado.

Watch today’s press conference 

Gov. Polis provides update on COVID-19 and discusses in-person learning

CDPHE: Colorado receives first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine

Gov. Polis, state officials welcome vaccine shipment

DENVER –   The state of Colorado received its first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine today. Governor Jared Polis personally signed for and received the first shipment of the vaccine this morning at the State Lab in Denver. The Governor was joined by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) staff, CDPHE incident commander Scott Bookman, Guard & Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State of Colorado Lead Epidemiologist, Brigadier General Scott Sherman, Dir. of Joint Vaccine Task Force and the Colorado National Guard.  

“This is great news for our health care workers and those at highest risk in our state & the beginning of the end of the pandemic,” said Governor Polis. “This vaccine is an amazing scientific triumph for humanity and the distribution which starts today is a historic undertaking. We still have a ways to go and Coloradans should double down now and continue to do what we know works in the fight against this virus and that’s wearing masks, physically distancing, and avoiding personal gatherings.”

This afternoon, Governor Polis will join frontline health care workers today at 2 p.m. in Fort Collins as the health care workers will receive the first doses of the vaccine in the state.  

Deliveries will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week to the remaining 21 vaccine recipient sites. The State lab received 975 doses,  UCHealth Poudre Valley received 3900 doses and Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs received 3900. 

This weekend, Governor Polis urged Colorado hospitals to administer the COVID-19 vaccination within 72 hours of receiving the vaccine.

Information about the 2 p.m. vaccine administration for frontline health care workers at UC Health Poudre Valley Hospital: KUSA is the television pool, KUNC is the radio pool, The Denver Post is the print/digital/photography pool. 

CDPHE: Colorado receives first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine

State video: Vaccine dry run drill

DENVER — The Colorado Unified Coordination Center completed the drill to test its ability to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to a distribution facility from Denver International Airport. In a four hour end-to-end drill, the Pfizer vaccine arrived at Denver International Airport where it was loaded onto a secure vehicle and driven to Vail Health, one of several distribution centers across the state. 

Here is a video of the vaccine dry run drill completed earlier this week. 

At Vail Health, it was transferred into the refrigerator and then removed for a practice injection. Each step included security protocols, some of which will allow the state to monitor its supply of the vaccine so not one dose of vaccine is wasted. 

 The training allowed simultaneous training engagements to take place:

  1. Colorado Unified Coordination Center, CDPHE and CDPS staff focused on the hand-to-hand transport of the vaccine, experiencing each logistical milestone. 
  2. The Unified Coordination Center conducted a tabletop training to game out problematic scenarios such as disruptions to transportation routes.

Governor Polis and state officials discussed Colorado’s vaccine distribution. The Governor stated that the focus of this plan is to save lives and end the crisis as soon as possible. 

Helpful resources: 

State video: Vaccine dry run drill

Governor Polis, state officials discusses COVID-19 vaccine distribution, provide update on response to the pandemic

Colorado Successfully Completes Vaccine Dry Run Exercise

COLORADO — Today, Governor Polis and state officials discussed the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and provided an update on the response to the pandemic. Gov. Polis was joined by Scott Bookman, Incident Commander for the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment; Brigadier General Scott Sherman, Dir. of Joint Vaccine Task Force, Colorado National Guard; and Joni Reynolds, Gunnison County Public Health Director. 

“The focus of this plan is to save lives and end the crisis as soon as possible. Which means prioritizing our most at-risk health care workers and individuals. Our state has been carefully planning this process, working closely with local public health agencies and engaging with providers and communities to prepare for the day when the vaccine would be approved for distribution and arrive in Colorado,” said Gov. Polis. “This vaccine is the gateway to a life without this crisis, but it will take time until everyone can access it because of the limited supply of vaccines so we must continue to do what we know works to slow the spread of the virus.”

Scott Bookman, Incident Commander for CDPHE and Brigadier General Scott Sherman discussed vaccine distribution phases, and Joni Reynolds, Gunnison County Public Health Director provided local public health perspective on vaccine distribution and education.

Colorado is about 1.69% of the population of the U.S. and each week the state is expecting to receive 1.69% of the available vaccines. It will take careful planning and time to vaccinate Colorado’s nearly six million people. From a nationwide and worldwide perspective, distributing the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the biggest undertakings in history.

The majority of Phase 1 early recipients of the vaccine will receive it through their employer, local public health agency, or through the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care (LTC) Program if they are residents of a long-term care center. More information about provider settings and options for Phase 2 and Phase 3 recipients will be coming soon. 

Helpful resources: 

Additionally, this week, the Colorado Unified Coordination Center completed an exercise to test its ability to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to a distribution facility from Denver International Airport. In a four-hour end-to-end exercise, the Pfizer vaccine arrived at Denver International Airport where it was loaded onto a secure vehicle and driven to Vail Health, one of several distribution centers across the state. The training allowed simultaneous trainings to take place:

  1. Colorado Unified Coordination Center, CDPHE and CDPS staff focused on the hand-to-hand transport of the vaccine, experiencing each logistical milestone. 
  2. The Unified Coordination Center conducted a tabletop exercise to game out problematic scenarios such as disruptions to transportation routes.
Governor Polis, state officials discusses COVID-19 vaccine distribution, provide update on response to the pandemic

Governor Polis signs bills into law

DENVER –  Following the special session of the 72nd General Assembly, Governor Jared Polis signed nine bills into law. This legislation provides broad relief to those impacted by COVID-19.

“We took immediate bipartisan action here in Colorado to provide relief to our small businesses, childcare providers and hardworking families. We will all continue to face challenges in the weeks and months ahead and we urge Washington to step up and provide real relief to the people who need it most,” said Governor Jared Polis. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. I thank state lawmakers and legislative leadership for their collaboration and I’m proud we could come together to ensure we can build back stronger than before.”

The governor signed the following:

  • HB20B-1004, Qualified Retailer Retain Sales Tax For Assistance – Sponsored by Representatives A. Valdez & Van Winkle, Senators Bridges & Tate
  • HB20B-1005, Local Authority To Impose Food Delivery Fee Restrictions – Sponsored by Representative Bird, Senator Rodriguez, Senator Tate
  • HB20B-1006, Insurance Premium Tax Payments And Credits – Sponsored by Representative Arndt, Senator Zenzinger
  • SB20B-001, COVID-19 Relief Small And Minority Businesses Arts Organizations – Sponsored by Senators Winter & Priola, Representatives Herod & Sandridge
  • HB20B-1003, Food Pantry Assistance Grant Program – Sponsored by Representatives Cutter &  Bockenfeld, Senators Story & Hisey
  • SB20B-003, Money For Energy Utility Bill Payment Assistance – Sponsored by Senators Fields & Crowder, Representatives Duran & Landgraf
  • SB20B-002, Housing And Direct COVID Emergency Assistance – Sponsored by Senators Gonzales & Holbert, Representatives Exum & Tipper
  • HB20B-1001, Grants To Improve Internet Access In P-12 Education – Sponsored by Representatives Young & Soper, Senators Donovan & Coram
  • HB20B-1002, Emergency Relief Programs For Child Care Sector – Sponsored by Representatives Kipp &  Landgraf, Senators Pettersen & Sonnenberg

View the bill signings here, here and here.

Governor Polis signs bills into law