Mayor Coffman contracts COVID-19, causing brief quarantine flurry for Gov. Polis

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Aurora mayor Mike Coffman

AURORA | Colorado Gov. Jared Polis was but now isn’t quarantining himself after learning that Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman tested positive for the coronavirus over a week after they appeared with other officials at a press conference, a spokesperson for the governor said Sunday.

Earlier Sunday, spokesperson Maria De Cambra said Polis would quarantine while waiting to hear from health officials investigating who else may have been exposed to the coronavirus about whether he should continue to isolate himself.

Sunday evening, spokesperson Conor Cahill said he was advised by state health officials there was no risk to Polis during the joint press conference.

“TCHD disease control investigators conducted an interview with Mayor Coffman this afternoon and have determined that there is no risk to Gov. Polis…Therefore, Gov. Polis and others at the that event with Mayor Coffman have been informed that they do need to quarantine as a result of this situation,” Cahill said in a statement in a statement.

Coffman, a Republican who previously represented the Aurora district in Congress for five terms, announced his diagnosis Sunday on Twitter. He said he came home from work Thursday morning not feeling well, thinking he had a very mild cold, but worked at home to be on the safe side. He said his symptoms cleared by Saturday and he got a rapid coronavirus test done on Sunday, assuming it would clear him to go to back to the office and resume his schedule.

“Unfortunately, the results of the test were positive. I will have to quarantine at home,” Coffman said.

Coffman and Polis attended an outdoor press conference on Oct. 15 to promote Colorado’s mail ballot system, which Coffman helped administer as secretary of state during the 2008 presidential election. Polis’ partner, Marlon Reis, current Secretary of State Jena Griswold, Denver Clerk Paul Lopez and state Sen. Julie Gonzales also spoke at the event. They stood staggered on a sidewalk near a ballot drop off box and each wore a mask until taking their turn to speak at the microphone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises anyone who has been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient to quarantine for two weeks. The risk of spread is considered lower outdoors.

State health officials said that after investigating the details of the joint press event, they determined there was no risk to Polis, according to Cahill.

Coffman’s diagnosis came on the same day as Colorado launched a statewide COVID-19 exposure notification system, in partnership with Google and Apple, that allows people to get smartphone notifications if someone they were near has tested positive for the virus. Users have to sign up to get notifications and users’ locations and identities will not be tracked, an announcement from Polis’ office said.

Citing a steady increase in Colorado’s coronavirus hospitalizations, state health officials announced new limits Friday on personal gatherings of people from different households in more than two dozen counties. The state is at risk of exceeding the peak in hospitalizations seen in April by mid-November, according to a modeling report released the same day by the state health department and the Colorado School of Public Health.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.