Although Pueblo County officials weren’t yet ready to issue a stay-at-home order on Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis took the decision out of their hands.


Polis on Wednesday afternoon mandated a statewide stay-at-home order that goes into effect at 6 a.m. Thursday (March 26) through April 11. It’s the latest measure he has taken in the battle to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado.


The order states that Coloradans must stay at home except for necessary business. Grocery shopping would be allowed. Critical businesses are exempt from the order, but must comply with social distancing requirements.


Polis announced the order as cases of COVID-19 in Colorado surpassed 1,000 on Wednesday. There are 19 deaths related to the virus in Colorado and 147 hospitalized cases. The state health department said 8,064 people have been tested in Colorado as of Wednesday.


In Pueblo County, which has three positive cases as of Wednesday, officials were considering issuing a stay at home order locally, similar to measures Denver and its surrounding counties already had adopted to prevent further spread of COVID-19.


Though no such order had been declared in Pueblo until the governor mandated one statewide, local officials were hoping residents would comply with the guidelines of social distancing and staying at home as much as possible that were in place.


"We feel like the measures we have in place right now are adequate for the circumstances and what we’re facing," said County Commissioner Chris Wiseman during a press conference on Wednesday.


There were a lot of variables considered when deciding to issue a stay-at-home order here, said Randy Evetts, the health director for the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.


"Part of our challenge is the data and having good data," he said. "The testing is lagging behind a little bit, and so we’re trying to make good decisions based on data currently. We still only have three confirmed positives (of COVID-19) in Pueblo County, and at this point that’s not a strong enough indication for us to make that decision."


The health department is awaiting the results of 137 tests that have been administered recently in Pueblo, including 90 that were done in drive-up testing at the Colorado State Fairgrounds on March 19. Completed testing so far has produced three positive cases of the virus and 69 negative tests.


Of the three positive cases, one man told The Pueblo Chieftain this weekend that he is feeling no more symptoms after self-isolating at home, while information about the two others, including whether they have required hospitalization, is unavailable.


Evetts said on Wednesday that the main places in Pueblo where gatherings are still observed are along walking areas, golf courses, playgrounds and parks. Restaurants, bars, theaters and other businesses — such as hair and nail salons — have been temporarily ordered closed across the state by Polis.


"It’s those kinds of areas where kids are trying to find something to do and they’re playing. Or people trying to figure out what to do with themselves are going just to try and find some stress relief," Evetts said.


Evetts said his office was considering the impact a stay-at-home order would have citywide, especially those involving families and employment.


"When you go into an order, how long do you stay in that order and how long can our local economy and community sort of stand and put up with that?" Evetts said.


rseverance@chieftain.com


Twitter: @RyanSevvy