-PHOTOS: Documenting COVID-19 in the Pikes Peak region 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared Friday that all employees deemed essential and still working during the coronavirus pandemic must wear masks while on the job.

The new executive order mandates that critical employees working in places such as senior care facilities and grocery stores will be required to wear either medical or nonmedical masks. 

"We don't want to prolong the pain for everybody else just because some people aren't (wearing masks)," Polis said at his daily news conference. 

The governor also announced that long-term care faculties will be required to develop an isolation plan and submit it to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment by May 1.

"We're going to be a lot more focused on compliance and enforcement" at nonhospital senior care facilities, Polis said. "The protocols that we're putting in place are really about providing additional education and training to staff to keep the facility safe."

New protocols included temperature readings, wrist bands that mark approval for entrance and a short questionnaire about symptoms, the governor said.

Here are more updates on what the governor spoke about Friday:

- "We know that facilities that serve seniors are particularly vulnerable," Polis said. The governor added that a recent discussion with the governor of Washington state, a hot spot of the coronavirus, revolved around how Colorado can "step up" to protect the most vulnerable. 

- The Colorado National Guard will be deployed to conduct testing at nursing home facilities across the state to help prevent outbreaks, Polis said. 

- The state has made the first round of grants in coronavirus relief funds, Polis said. 

Colorado received $21 million in grant applications, Polis said. He added that $4.8 million is "going out immediately" to organizations and counties that have applied for it. 

-MAP | Coronavirus cases in Colorado

The money will go toward front-line workers impacted by the virus, older Coloradans whose income is jeopardized, homeless populations, tribal governments and others, Polis said. 

- Starting Monday, gig workers and independent contractors can begin to apply for unemployment benefits, Polis said. 

- The governor addressed recently released racial statistics regarding the coronavirus, and said the state is launching a task force to address "all of the inequities in this COVID-19 crisis."

- Polis reiterated the state's guidelines for outdoor recreation for the upcoming weekend.

He asked that Coloradans wear face masks at parks or trails with other people present, "not out of anxiety or fear, but out of caution."

- "There are more deaths ahead of us than there are behind us,"Polis said. 

-The state health department reported Friday that 391 Coloradans have died of the coronavirus, more than 9,000 have tested positive and 1,755 remain hospitalized.

- The governor reiterated that "life will be different" even once the stay-at-home order is lifted.

"We all are excited (for the recovery phase)," Polis said. "Most of you are going to be just fine, but because the mortality rate is so high, that's why we have to take these precautions." 


Contact Liz Henderson, 719-476-1623

Twitter: @GazetteLiz

Multimedia Journalist

Liz is a multimedia journalist who joined the Gazette staff in 2019.

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