Colorado could see ‘surge upon surge’ of COVID-19 cases, Fauci warns

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Dr. Anthony Fauci joins Gov. Jared Polis on a news conference Tuesday Dec. 1, 2020 to talk about the pandemic. Screen shot via Gov. Jared Polis’s Facebook page

DENVER | Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that Colorado should expect to see a surge in cases over the holiday season in a Tuesday news conference alongside Gov. Jared Polis. 

While the next month or so of the pandemic looks bleak, Fauci, who serves on the White House’s coronavirus task force, expressed optimism about vaccines that should become available before the end of the year.

The news conference was conducted remotely, as Polis and his partner Marlon Reis both tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. Polis thanked Coloradans for reaching out with their well-wishes, and said that so far he and Reis are doing well and only experiencing mild symptoms.

“I’m certainly not out of the woods,” Polis said, “but so far I feel very good.”

Polis is among an estimated one in 41 Coloradans currently contagious with the virus. Polis urged anyone experiencing possible COVID-19 symptoms to get tested.

Fauci thanked Polis for inviting him to speak to Coloradans and said he hopes the governor continues to do well.

“I think your constituents should realize that you’re putting on a strong face,” he said.

Like the rest of the country, Fauci said that Colorado should expect to see a “surge upon surge” of cases because of the holiday season.

“We will be looking at 30 or more days of a period of time of precarious risk,” Fauci said.

To mitigate that, Coloradans should do the things they have been urged to do for months: wear masks, social distance, wash their hands frequently and avoid large indoor gatherings, especially when maskless.

The first people in the state will get vaccines by the end of December, Fauci said, people just need to hang in there for a bit longer.

Fauci is optimistic about the several vaccines that have so far proved effective, saying that the development of a vaccine with a 95% effective rate in such a rapid timeframe is “unprecedented,” and the result of many years of quiet scientific advancements.

Ordinary people who are not high risk will likely start to receive vaccines in April, Fauci said.

When asked a question about whether Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s decision to travel to see family for Thanksgiving while asking others not to travel would damage the state’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, neither Polis or Fauci openly lambasted the mayor.

Fauci said that when government officials send mixed messages to the public about the pandemic, “it’s not only not helpful, it can actually be detrimental.”

Polis said that he does not want anyone who decided to travel or host a large gathering over Thanksgiving to get sick.

“I wish that less people traveled over Thanksgiving and that includes the mayor,” he said.

Colorado will send out a one-time stimulus check of $375 to 435,000 Coloradans who signed up for unemployment during the pandemic, Polis said. The payments will go out this week. The state legislature is currently in a special session aimed at providing more COVID-19 relief.

“We know it’s not enough, but we hope that it helps,” Polis said of the stimulus.

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