Wednesday, May 13, President Trump met with senators and state officials, including our own Gov. Jared Polis, to discuss individual, state plans on gradual re-opening after the coronavirus pandemic. The president praised both Gov. Polis and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on their response to the virus, saying the “two governors are working very hard—harder than they thought they’d have to work.”
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan accompanied Polis on his trip to Washington. Both CO representatives were wearing masks during the meeting, while officials from North Dakota and Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the coronavirus task force experts, were not.
Polis said in a press briefing that followed the meeting that everyone who attended the meeting was tested for COVID-19 beforehand, so masks were not necessary during the meeting. Colorado Governor took off his own mask to address the president, saying he tested negative with a 20-minute quick test.
When asked about the country’s decision to re-open schools in the fall, President Trump urged schools to re-open as soon as possible. “…it’s had very little impact on young people. And I think that if you’re an instructor, if you’re a teacher, a professor, and you’re over a certain age—like, let’s say 65 or maybe even, if you want to be conservative, 60—perhaps you want to stay out for a little while longer.”
President Trump asked Polis about Colorado’s ski areas as well as other restaurants and businesses that could have been negatively affected by the quarantine. Polis responded that he was hopeful people will be able to ski in June. He also told Trump that he was respecting various communities’ wishes when it comes to reopening for more tourism because “they have the most at stake economically and from a health perspective.”
Polis told Trump that certain counties, including Eagle, were initially hit the hardest due to the international tourism of ski resorts. However, he said, due to their response to the pandemic, Eagle county is now one of the first in the country to begin reopening.
Governor Polis also talked about the testing products Colorado has received so far, mostly from Korea. CDPHE’s representative thanked the administration and Gardner for additional testing products and explained the plan to contain the virus in Colorado and efforts to increase testing and contact tracing.
The Colorado governor has been criticized for meeting with the president after his occasional jabs at the federal response to the pandemic. Polis said there was no way to turn down a meeting request from the president, which he said was “an opportunity to advance Colorado’s needs.”
He said that his administration had received a firm commitment that the federal government had received 96,000 tests and would be sending them to Colorado in the next couple of days. Polis said that was a part of the 195,000 the state expects to receive through the end of June and would be crucial in helping the state reach its goal of testing 10,000 people a day next month.
Watch part of the meeting which was open to the press, here.