On Monday April 20, Governor Polis held a press conference to discuss several of his recent executive actions and the new policy guidelines Coloradans can expect for living with COVID-19.
1. The Governor shared his approach reopening the state in May and moving into the next phase of living with COVID-19.
The Governor discussed new modeling that shows the state will not need to extend the statewide stay at home order. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has worked with the University of Colorado to create a model that is guiding these decisions. The model indicates that the actual number of Coloradans infected with COVID-19 is between 65,000 and 70,000, despite the number of confirmed cases being only 10,100.
The model also notes that social distancing alone is not enough to keep the amount of infections below the ICU bed capacity in Colorado. An approach that includes a sustainable level of social distancing, guidance to older and at-risk citizens to do more than regular social distancing, promoting mask wearing, and pursuing aggressive case detection and containment is what will get Colorado to the goal of opening back up while also staying within the capacity of the healthcare system.
On April 27, the statewide Stay at Home Order will be lifted and Colorado will enter into a “Safer at Home” phase, which will not be an Order, but will be an “encouragement” to follow specific guidelines. This phase will incrementally allow businesses and offices to reopen with smaller staffing levels, staggering shifts, and strict precautions. Elective surgeries will be allowed again as well as personal services businesses will open. School districts and post-secondary institutions will continue to suspend normal in-person instruction until the end of the school year.
Restaurants likely won’t be allowed to fully open again until around May 15, once data is available to evaluate the effectiveness of the easing of other restrictions.
Specific guidance on this will be forthcoming. Local governments will be allowed to modify the statewide standards in order to address localized outbreaks or hot spots.
It’s important to note that there may be a fluctuation between the levels to recover from outbreaks, meaning that Colorado could return to the Stay-at-Home phase if there is a significant increase in cases or spread of the virus. The Governor stated that this is a marathon now, and not a sprint. We need to continue to be vigilant, but we can begin to return to a more sustainable way of living.
2. The Governor signed Executive Order D 2020 040 which amends and extends Executive Order D 2020 010 which suspended statute to extend the income tax payment deadlines. The IRS has issued an extension for filers with income tax returns due between April 15 and July 15. EO 040 extends EO 010 for another 30 days to align with the IRS extension.
3. The Division of Insurance has adopted Emergency Regulation 20-E-07– Concerning Coverage and Reimbursement for COVID-19 Treatment during the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency. The purpose of this regulation is to require carriers to provide covered persons with treatment related to COVID-19. This regulation ensures that out-of-network providers rendering emergency services for emergency medical conditions, including but not limited to COVID-19, are appropriately compensated without delay. The regulation includes more specifics on defining COVID-19 as an emergency in addition to reimbursement. It also includes a provision to allow bundling of claims for arbitration during an emergency. This regulation is effective April 18th.