In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Jared Polis has ordered the suspension of “nonessential” surgeries and medical procedures in Colorado in order to free up equipment, including ventilators and personal protection items for staff.
An executive order he signed on Thursday requires this suspension to run from March 23 to April 14 for all facilities other than rural and critical-access hospitals, for which the order’s timeline is indefinite.
“This includes all voluntary or elective surgeries or procedures, whether medical, dental, or veterinary,” a news release from the governor’s office stated.
Polis said in a statement: “As a state, we are looking at all possible solutions to ensure we are protecting the health and safety of Coloradans and minimizing the duration of the crisis. This is a coordinated effort with all state agencies and community partners to utilize every resource available during this difficult time to reduce the severity and duration of the crisis. Together, we will get through this.”
Polis has also ordered the closure of additional businesses deemed “nonessential.” Nail salons, hair salons, spas, massage parlors and tattoo shops must close until at least April 30, per his order.
That order was updated today but originally published Monday. The initial version of it called for a 30-day closure of restaurants — delivery and take-out excepted — plus bars, theaters, gymnasiums and casinos. The new expiration date of April 30 now applies to those facilities, too.
Polis told reporters on Wednesday that as the closure of these businesses drags on, he’ll look at some point at allowing them to open on a limited basis, with new standards to allow for appropriate social distancing.
“You can’t shut down everything forever,” he said.
The order also suspends activity at horse track and off-track betting facilities statewide, and suspends all in-person filings to the Secretary of State, including forms and applications.
Polis has repeatedly stated that additional restrictions may be announced in the coming days, possibly including a shelter-in-place order in some or all Colorado counties.
As of Thursday afternoon, Colorado had 277 known cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, and four fatalities.