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DENVER (KDVR) — For the first time since he issued a statewide stay at home order, Gov. Jared Polis went into detail Wednesday about what it’ll take for Colorado to begin to reopen and relax the rule that’s set to last until April 26.

The governor said the state will focus on six principles:

  1. Work to suppress the virus
  2. Increased ability to conduct testing and containment
  3. Additional protections for those most at risk for COVID-19
  4. Ability of the health care system to handle increased demand
  5. Social distancing policies that can be sustainable
  6. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of policies and their impact

The governor said he’ll most likely slowly relax the state’s restrictions. For example, bars and restaurants may not open immediately and businesses may be asked to divide workers into different shifts or create makeshift barriers to separate employees.

“We want to dispel any notion that we can immediately go back to the way things were in January or February, because the virus will be with us,” Polis said.

That’s why testing is so important, according to public health experts. Right now, a few thousand people get COVID-19 tests in Colorado every day. Ideally, tens of thousands could.

“As we open things back up, we’re still going to have a large segment of our state population who are unexposed and therefore susceptible to this virus,” said Dr. Glen Mays, the chair of the Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy in the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “To prevent going right back where we were a month ago, in terms of a large surge in demand for care, we need to be able to jump quickly on new cases and isolate them. That means testing.”

Colorado also needs to see a downward trend on the coronavirus curve. As of Wednesday, new cases of COVID-19 have hit a plateau.

“We’d like to see evidence that we’re not just holding the line but we’re actually reducing transmission,” Mays said.