'It's rather shocking:' 1 in 49 Coloradans are contagious with COVID-19

Posted at 4:20 PM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-22 10:49:23-05

DENVER, Colo. — The number of Coloradans contagious with COVID-19 grew to about one in 49 people, according to Gov. Jared Polis in a press conference Friday.

"It's rather shocking," Polis said.

Just days ago, about one in 110 Coloradans were contagious.

Colorado saw another day of growth in COVID-19 numbers, with 5,765 new cases and 1,564 patients with the virus currently hospitalized.

Polis announced changes to the state's COVID-19 dial Tuesday, which has led to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announcing a move to the updated Level Red for 20 counties.

"We hope that this changes the trajectory, but it's also important that Coloradans are realistic. It takes two weeks for that to change the trajectory," Polis said. "We're in for some tough days ahead."

MORE: Orange, red — now purple? What Colorado's updated COVID-19 dial means for your county

Across the state, COVID-19 is the worst it's ever been, Polis said. Weld County is one of the 20 counties moving to Level Red, where they currently have three ICU beds available and no non-ICU beds in Weld County. Officials from the county said they will not enforce the Level Red restrictions when they go into effect Sunday.

Mesa County is also at full hospital capacity.

For many in western Colorado, it's their first major experience with the virus. Dr. Alan-Michael Vargas, a physician at Grand River Health Clinic in Parachute said even in a community where acres can separate neighbors, they're seeing the impact.

"The best thing we can do for our families at this time is to minimize the risk and stop the spread within our families, our communities and our homes," Vargas said. "Loving from a distance this season will matter."

Polis said public policy directives are a smaller piece in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and avoiding overwhelming the health care system, but making changes on an individual level is more impactful. Polis said it's important Coloradans wear masks, avoid gathering with other households and physically distance when they're out of their homes. Polis anticipated the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be coming to Colorado in December, but it will be months before it's more widely available.