Confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Colorado neared 10,000 Sunday, as the state’s death toll from the highly contagious virus rose to 422.
Nine thousand seven hundred thirty cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed through testing in the state, although health officials estimate the true number of cases to be several times higher than those confirmed through testing.
There have been 1,813 people have been hospitalized with the disease and at least 46,195 have been tested for it, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The almost 10,000-case milestone comes as state health officials say they’re seeing a plateau in new cases that likely reflects the state’s stay-at-home order and as state and local officials consider how and when to begin to reopen the economy.
The state’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 26, and Denver’s on April 30, but experts say those dates are moving targets and any return to normalcy will need to happen in phases and with extensive precautions for months to avoid a second wave of novel coronavirus infections.
But before any reopening in Colorado can begin, the state needs to see a sustained, 14-day reduction in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and needs to vastly increase its ability to test for the disease and identify those who may have been exposed, health experts said.
Gov. Jared Polis on Saturday hinted on Twitter that the state may be on track to begin reopening as scheduled later this month, although he has cautioned that the process will be slow. Protesters on Sunday gathered at the state capitol building to urge Polis to lift the stay-at-home order, which they said was “draconian.”
The state will provide more details on which businesses can reopen on Monday, Polis said last week.
Reopening with a phased approach could mean professional sporting events are played to empty stadiums, or companies only bring half their workforce back into the office while others continue to work remotely. It could mean college classrooms with fewer desks or students who return in batches on alternate days of the week. Restaurants could open with reduced seating and spaced-out tables, or with more robust cleaning regimens.