DENVER (KDVR) – COVID-19 cases are increasing in Colorado again.
More than 1,700 cases were reported statewide Wednesday with a positivity rate just below 9%.
Amid what is projected to be a bit of a surge nationwide and here at home, Gov. Jared Polis signed four bills designed to support healthcare workers. Nurses said the new laws could not be coming at a better time.
“It’s painfully, truthfully for me to think about the phone calls I took and the conversations I had with nurses struggling literally minute to minute, day to day, trying to be safe for themselves, safe for their patients and safe for their families. I’m really appreciative of the Governor’s Office,” said Collen Casper of the Colorado Nurses’ Association.
One of the new laws the governor signed requires hospitals in Colorado to have a nurse staffing committee in place by September to submit a staffing plan to CDPHE to make sure they don’t exhaust their workforce.
Other measures reduce certification fees for healthcare workers, create retention programs for those workers, and create a personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile for the state to distribute to schools, hospitals and state agencies. Hoping to keep Colorado from returning to the early days of the pandemic.
“Stories of nurses using garbage bags to protect themselves, and the masks were used for weeks at a time, not just days at a time,” Casper said when reflecting on the first months of the pandemic. “So this is a big step forward for safe work environments and we think with the staff committee provisions in the hospital preparedness bill, we can get some nurses back to Colorado hospitals.”
The new laws come as Colorado and other parts of the nation are starting to see rises in COVID cases; something that everyone hoped we were past, but experts have said that with an increase expected to go on until at least mid-June, these new laws are being put into action at the right time.
“We’re learning as we go. We learned the science as we went, and we’ve absolutely got to learn these pandemic response logistics. Nurses are critical, as are other paraprofessionals, PPE is vital, our healthcare workforce pipeline is much thinner than it needs to be. This is hugely timely,” said Dr. John Douglas of the Tri-County Health Department.
Lawmakers are hoping to see immediate relief from these measures, looking for them to make a difference ahead of future surges.