Reopening America, Walker Webcast with CO Governor Jared Polis

Watch the replay of Walker & Dunlop’s Walker Webcast, featuring the governor of Colorado, Jared Polis.

Watch the webcast - Reopening America

Walker & Dunlop’s CEO, Willy Walker, and Governor Polis discussed numerous topics, including:

  • How apartment owners and operators are, and will be, handling rent collections and evictions
  • What a successful reopening looks like
  • Balancing the economic consequences of the pandemic with health and safety considerations
  • How government leaders can utilize available data to plan reopening
  • Testing, hospital preparedness, and supply distribution in Colorado

A bit about each speaker:

Willy Walker
Willy Walker

Willy Walker is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Walker & Dunlop. Under Mr. Walker’s leadership, Walker & Dunlop has grown from a small, family-owned business to become one of the largest commercial real estate finance companies in the United States. With a $32B transaction volume in 2019, Walker & Dunlop is ranked top three with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD.

Governor Jared Polis photo
Governor Jared Polis

Governor Jared Polis is an entrepreneur, education leader, and public servant. After launching several successful companies, Governor Polis committed himself to making sure other Coloradans had the opportunity to pursue their dreams through founding schools for at-risk students and new immigrants and started nonprofits to help veterans. Prior to serving as Governor, Polis served on the State Board of Education and represented Colorado's 2nd Congressional district.

If you have any comments or questions about the evolving economic landscape and how it is impacting the CRE space, our experts are available and fully operational to help. Additionally, if you have topics you would like covered during one of our future Wednesday webcasts, send us your suggestions.

Follow us on YouTube for the latest webcast and videos.

Q&A Transcript

Willy Walker (WW): Good afternoon, and thanks everyone for joining us for another Walker Wednesday webcast. I'm really excited to have Governor Polis with us today as one of the first governors to start opening his state back up and to hear from the Governor as it relates to both the decisions to shut down his state as well as how the reopening is going and what he's looking forward to going forward. He's getting off something and is going to jump in and join me in a second.

I'll start with an introduction of the Governor so that when he comes in we're done with any of the background, although there's a piece to this intro that I did want the Governor to hear and so as I'm sitting here waiting for him to jump in, many of you who don't live in the state of Colorado may not know Governor Polis’ background. He was born in Boulder, Colorado and moved to Southern California at the age of five. He was at La Jolla High School as a junior at 16 years old and decided that he wanted to go to college so he applied to Princeton and because he had taken so many AP courses Princeton took him as a junior and so he actually never finished La Jolla High School. He went on to Princeton and while at Princeton he was a member of the Juggling Club and also the Model Congress and I was going to make a point when the Governor joins us about the fact that I'm not so sure when he was in college that he knew how much he would have to juggle at this time in his life by being part of the Juggling Club. He ran for student body president at 19 years old at Princeton and he lost in a landslide.

But from there he then turned to business and he started a company at Princeton which he quickly about a year after graduating from Princeton sold, a company called American Information Systems, which to those of us who were in the market back in 1995-1996 that was just the advent of the dot com world. So, he sold American Information Systems, then turned around and helped build up an online greeting cards company called Blue Mountain which he sold to Excite@Home for $780 million in 1997 or 1998. And then he turned to the flower industry and built an online flower distribution company called Pro Flowers which was sold in the early 2000’s for almost half a billion dollars. So, the Governor right out of college had three huge immediate successes in the online economy generating over a billion dollars of shareholder value in those three companies and then he turned his focus to politics.

He returned to Colorado and focused on the School Board, he got elected to the School Board in the early 2000’s. And then in 2008 focused on the U.S. Congress. He was elected in 2008 for his first term in Congress and was re-elected four more times.

I went back and looked at the governors who he'd actually lost to in that, I guess his first and final loss as it relates to his political career, for president of the class at Princeton, and the gentleman he lost to was a gentleman named David Cologne. I was kind of curious what happened to David Cologne after he thoroughly trounced Governor Polis in the class president running at Princeton. There he is - nice to see you!

Governor Jared Polis (JP): Good to see you. Glad I’m joining you today.

WW: I just gave the run-through Governor on your background and I was actually telling those people who have joined us that I went back and looked at who actually beat you in your one loss and that was a gentleman named David Cologne who beat you for class president at Princeton.

JP: That’s right.

WW: And I just wanted to see what had happened to Mr. Cologne. So, it's actually interesting because, as you may know Governor, he actually ran for Congress in 2000.

JP: Yeah, I helped him. Yeah, he didn't quite make it, but I went out and campaigned for him.

WW: He didn’t quite make it in the Democratic primary. So, you are 5-0 running for Congress and also won the Governorship and Mr. Cologne didn't quite make it to Congress so I guess that early loss, I guess we'd rather have your future political career than Mr. Cologne’s.

Governor, I greatly appreciate you joining me and it's actually perfect timing because we can now just jump right into it.

You know the first case of COVID was reported in Colorado in early March and then on March 16 you closed the bars and restaurants and theaters and health clubs in the state, followed by your stay at home order on March 25. Can you talk us through those early extremely challenging days? You've been extremely good at talking about data, looked at data from the very beginning and sort of said the data is going to drive my decisions. So here you are in the eye of the storm, if you will, what data were you seeing that caused you to say we’ve got to first of all shut down theaters and restaurants and gyms and then a week later say we now have to go to the next level of a stay at home order.

JP: Well, you know, thankfully we acted early enough in Colorado to prevent a catastrophic loss. I was just talking to Phil Murphy this morning, the governor of New Jersey -12,000 people they've lost. We've lost about 1,000 in Colorado, certainly nothing to celebrate but you know nothing compared to the toll in the areas that frankly acted too late. And that could be anywhere, anywhere that went on with life as it was as New York did for too long and wound up in a in a real catastrophic situation. So, we're about 1,000 deaths, about 100,000 in the country, and we're a little over two percent of the population of the country in Colorado. So, we have one percent of the deaths and we're about two and a half percent of population. We're certainly below our pro rata share which is a good place to be, we want to be there.

And you know we were seeing, monitoring the reports of how quickly this spread in kind of an underground stealth kind of way, which is what happened in countries across the world and what happened with some of the first cases here because people are contagious often before they're symptomatic. Other people are asymptomatic and contagious and that information was just starting to emerge and was of great concern that it wasn't just about sick people not going out, it was also about people that might seem perfectly healthy unwittingly spreading the virus, highly contagious virus, in social environments like bars and nightclubs and at parties.

WW: And as you were sort of, I mean I can only imagine Governor that you were getting it from all sides in the sense that there were certain people who wanted to be extremely cautious and sort of shut down early and other people who said If you shut down the economy who knows how long it's going to be shut down for and that's going to be devastating to the overall state and to its citizens.

As you sat there and tried to kind of toggle between those two big power bases that were coming at you from both sides, what were you looking at that got you to make that decision on March 25 that just said we can't keep going, we’ve got to shut this down?

JP: Well really it was the only way through it, you know, you would have had to have a de facto shut down if the virus overwhelmed our hospitals and was rampant and people were scared to leave their homes. Or, if you did it a little bit earlier, you could end it. So, I mean here in Colorado we've had our stores open for about a month now and restaurants are open opening, today actually, they've been open in a number of parts of the state. So, we wouldn't have been able to open stores for customers on April 27th/May 1st if we hadn't gotten the virus down to a level where people weren’t just shivering in their homes in fear. And, also, it's about the safety guidelines. We had to reboot what stores and restaurants look like to inspire customer confidence and, of course, to make sure that we minimize the chance of outbreaks among employees and customers.

WW: So, if we fast forward from that original decision to shut down the economy and then to about a month later when things really peaked. The death rate peaked at about 38 or 39 a day right around April 18. Interestingly when I was looking at the data, I saw that the cases peaked after the death rate, typically we've seen case rates go up and then the death rate kind of lags behind it. In Colorado it was 38 or 39 on April 18th and then it wasn't until a week later, on April 25th, that you got to your peak daily outbreaks of about 700. That's now down to - deaths are two to three per day over the last week and there were none in the state, thankfully, on May 23rd and the daily cases is down now to about 250 to 300.

What are you now focused on Governor as it relates to what's an acceptable level, if you will? Obviously, we want the death rate to go to zero but that may not be realistic. We obviously want the number of cases to go to zero but given that this virus is out there and there's no vaccine to it, what are the data points you're looking at now to sort of say, okay, we're good, we can stay at this level or if it starts to move from here to somewhere else we've got a whole different ballgame?

JP: Yeah, it's certainly good news that the death rate didn't peak after the cases went up and I think the reason for that is who's getting the cases. We've really taken extraordinary measures to protect our nursing homes, our senior care facilities, testing and screening out asymptomatic workers who might not know they're carrying it into that facility - really focused on that. So, hopefully, where we are today, the percentage of people that need to be hospitalized we lower because we're doing extreme measures to protect the most vulnerable population that's more than likely in need of a hospital bed.

Now, that being said, of course people of any age can have to go to the hospital and even die from this. We lost a 21-year old baseball player at Colorado Mesa University and we've lost a number of people in their 20’s and 30’s and 40s. But the trajectory - I was reviewing some of the statistics earlier - if you're over 60, you’ve got about a 15 to 20 percent chance of having to go to the hospital. If you're in your 30s, it's closer to a 5 percent chance. Then most people will make it out of the hospital, but those odds are also worse if you're in your 70’s or 80’s or 60’s than they are if you're in your 20’s and 30’s.

So, we want to do our best to keep this up, really enshrine these social distancing concepts in the way that we live in a sustainable way – meaning yes we're working and doing what we need to do to get by but we're just doing them in a different and safer way.

WW: So you've talked a lot about the “are not” and the days to double, and I think you've now - am I correct in saying Governor that at the height it was sort of three to four was the “are not” and today it's down to a one “are not”? Talk about that because social distancing obviously has a lot to do with that, wearing masks has a lot to do with that, and maintaining that “are not” at one. What if the “are not” were to, if you will, spike back up to a two or two and a half percent time level?

JP: So, yeah, if it were to be two or three it would overwhelm the hospitals after several generations of replication. This is how many people each sick person infects, right, so if it's a simple “are not” of two that means it doubles each generation which is about 10 days. So, if you double the number of people who have it every 10 days you're pretty soon in a situation where you're overflowing your hospitals. It was higher than two. It was a very contagious virus under normal social situations. Our experts estimated it was three to four before we took the measures that we did and it's now around one. You know, it could be slightly below one, it could be slightly above one, it depends on exactly what people do and how people act. But if it goes up again in any place where it goes to two or three, it will quickly be on a doubling or tripling pace to exceed their hospital capacity.

WW: So back in March you were visibly frustrated as it relates to testing and supply chains on getting testing supplies. I believe that the state is now up to 4,000 to 5,000 per day, did 6,000 last Friday, and I think you'd put a goal out there to have 8,500 tests by the end of May. Are you going to make that goal?

JP: Yeah, we have the ability to do up to 10,000 today. Obviously, tests require people coming in and wanting tests. Coloradans are healthier than they've ever been because very few people have colds and flu and strep and other things because those are also reduced by social distancing. So, there's just a lot less people that have infirmities that would want to be tested than normal, which is fine, that's good. The flu is pretty much wiped out in Colorado right now, it'll come back of course. Very few people have colds. And anybody who has any symptoms should get tested immediately. We have 36 now, free quick testing clinics across the state. You don't need a doctor's note, you go in, you're done in 20 minutes. It’s sort of a drive-through, you get out of your car, you do it, it's really quick and easy and free.

WW: So if you've got the testing in place - if I if I go back to kind of - there's been a lot of talk about sort of losing the plot as it relates to why did we shut down in the first place. And I went back and listened to you talking about it and It was we need the hospital capacity, we need the testing, we need the PPE. So, you've got the testing in place. Hospitalization standpoint, I think the state has something like 12,000 beds in it and you said, I believe last week, the number of COVID cases in hospitals in the state is below 400. Talk about - and the number of ventilators, I believe, is somewhere close to 700 in the state. How much has that picture changed over the last month? In other words if it was 12,000 hospital beds in the state, that hasn't changed dramatically.

JP: We were able to work with the hospitals to increase the number of beds by about 20 percent so about 2,000 more beds than when this started. Keep in mind that about 90 percent of beds are filled with non COVID folks on a regular basis so those are not free beds by any means - there's people who have heart attacks, there's people who have strokes, there's people who are in car crashes so you're left with about 10 percent of the beds that would be for, if you will, COVID surge patients. You know we have a pretty tight ship here in healthcare. I mean, no hospital would be in business if they had half their beds sitting empty all year long. So, they try very hard to meet the demand and generally they're at about 90 percent capacity, some might run 80 percent, some might run 95 percent if they’re particularly busy.

So that means we had to really make sure we had added capacity on the COVID side. It really strained us during the days when I think we had 800-900 people hospitalized for COVID at the same time. There were a number of hospitals where they were in emergency standards of care, you know temporary beds and it was really straining the system. But that shows how you get to that 800, 900 or 1,000 in a hospital and you're really straining a system of 12,000 beds because you still have everything else under the sun. Now the everything else under the sun went down a bit, which is interesting, it's both good and bad. First of all, it went down and it did mean we didn't run out of room for the surge of COVID patients we had, but it also meant a lot of people were putting off things or not going in for things they should have gone in for. Like if you had chest pains and dizziness, there are people who would normally say I might have a heart attack, I'm going to go in and maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. During the height of the COVID era and to a lesser extent it's still true today, people are saying I'm staying home, I don't want to get COVID. Sometimes that's a very bad decision because it could actually be a heart attack and you could die. Other times, obviously, it'll be something else that's causing those symptoms. So we're really trying to encourage folks, if you would have gone to the hospital for something in January, you should go to the hospital, I mean we don't want you to die of a heart attack or stroke or undetected cancer or anything else just because there's a pandemic right now.

WW: As an aside to that, one of my high school Lacrosse teammates had chest pain last week in Connecticut. Called the doctor, doctor said don't want you going to the hospital, you might get COVID, why don't you just literally take some aspirin and hang out, and my friend died last Wednesday.

JP: I am really sorry to hear that Willy. This has happened in Colorado and elsewhere. I am really sorry to hear that about your friend. That is terrible advice from a doctor. The risk of a heart attack, if you're suffering the symptoms is significantly greater than COVID in terms of the mortality if there's not intervention. And heart attacks can generally be addressed medically if you go in, they can generally be addressed surgically as well.

So, it's really sad. When you see this unexplained death rate has gone up some of that might be COVID, it probably is undiagnosed, but the other large sort of extra death rate are for people that would have been saved had they simply sought medical treatment but chose not to out of fear of COVID.

WW: Yeah. Final question on the on the hospital side of things Governor. Remdesivir has been distributed by HHS across the country to the states. Various states are going about distributing it in different ways, some are having lotteries, others are going to the most severely ill. How is Colorado going about distributing Remdesivir?

JP: So, there seems to be some clinical benefit from Remdesivir. It's not a game changer, it doesn't change the trajectory of the virus, it seems to slightly shorten the duration. It may or may not shorten the fatality rate - we hope it does. Like most states we've gotten some and they're being directed by the medical professionals in the medical setting for those who they feel would have the most clinical, potential clinical benefit.

WW: Okay. On PPE, I heard that you secured a big contract with Honeywell for 6 million n95 masks. Given that there are less than 6 million residents of the state of Colorado, just under that, I guess you've gotten one n95 mask per person in the state. Just curious, what's the number on 6 million, is there some special number there as it relates to how quickly hospitals run through them or what percentage of the population your staff said we need this number?

JP: Well, unfortunately, it doesn't quite work that way where everybody gets one. They're generally not reusable under normal standards. Now we have some sterilization facilities with some capacity, and we do have a way that some subset of them are reused. We have two large sterilization efforts, one in the Denver Metro area and one in Grand Junction. But generally speaking, they are single use, one day use, so it's not that every Coloradan gets one, it’s medical professionals who need, ideally from their perspective, two, three, four a day. I mean, they'd like to change when they have a break or change at lunch and not reapply the old mask. But under the standards of care we've been in they've generally had one per day, generally speaking a new mask the next day although some have been decontaminated and cleaned as well.

So, we need them. Yes, we have more than enough, which we hope we do, for hospitals. They're utilized by other first responders and we have them in our prisons with our prison guards. The inmates themselves wear homemade masks. We haven't yet reached the point where every prison guard is in an n95, but we hope to have that. So, where people by nature of what they do encounter the public on a regular basis and putting themselves at risk, when we have enough on the medical side that's where they go.

WW: So, Governor you talked about both the prison as well as a senior housing facility. The two counties in Colorado - and real quick because I’ve got a lot of other things I want to talk to you about particularly on the economic side of things - but Logan and Morgan counties, two small counties, 20 some odd thousand residents in each one of them in the northeast of the state, have the highest incident rate per citizen and Sterling Prison is in Logan County and then Morgan County has a meatpacking plant, a dairy plant, as well as a seniors housing facility.

In those rural areas there's story after story as it relates to cities in America have sort of figured out how to deal with this but it's now getting to rural America. Given the number of hospital beds per citizen and things of that nature, what's the state doing to make sure that in these rural areas where there are these hot spots, if you will, there's the proper amount of both testing, hospital capacity, and PPE to make sure that these hot spots can sort of, if you will, be controlled.

JP: So, they generally come in as you've indicated around a large central facility - could be a meatpacking plant, could be a prison, but because people who live in the community work in those facilities it very soon is a community wide outbreak. So, it may come in where people are working close within those same folks, their sisters, their brothers, their spouses, their kids or sons working grocery stores and have jobs around town, so it quickly becomes community wide.

We have directed testing and we have, we worked with the county health departments to provide free testing clinics that are accessible to folks in those areas with outbreaks. For instance, we operated one about a mile from the Greeley meatpacking plant, the JBS facility. For three days we offered free testing, well over 1,000 people availed themselves of that. So we're doing that and then we're working closely with the county health departments to make sure that, first of all, the practices at those workplaces are as safe as possible but, secondly, we act early around the community outbreak side to do what we can to prevent that.

WW: I'm going to ask you I guess a tough question as it relates to, from a political politician standpoint, which is that if you look at the actual numbers, you think about, as you said at the top Governor, 1,088 deaths. Obviously each one of those deaths is a tragedy, particularly for the family that lost a loved one. But if you put a price to that, if you sat there and said each life is worth - in payouts in court cases, for instance, on 911 - each life is worth $3 million. That's $3.2 billion if you put a value on each life and it's very difficult to put a value on a life, but if you're just going to do this exercise you'd see that's $3.2 billion.

The state economy of Colorado is about a $350 billion economy so if we’ve lost 20 percent of annual output that’s $70 billion. So to “keep the virus contained” to unfortunately those 1,088 deaths, at a “value” of $3.2 billion and the state has lost $70 billion of output, how do you as Governor manage those two things because at the end of the day you do have a budget to manage, you do have an economy to manage, and at the same time the safety and well-being of the population. How do you work on those two?

JP: Well the economic consequences of a pandemic are unescapable, and you can either minimize them by acting early and minimizing the pandemic or have a much more severe economic event. I guess, let's say if political leadership ignored it, didn't talk about it, swept it under the carpet, you would have mass casualties and people would be terrified in their homes anyway and you have effective closure of the economy. So, a shorter targeted intervention, results in less economic disruption than a rampant pandemic that costs; we lost 100,000 Americans in this. To put things in perspective, the Twin Towers I think was 2,000 to 3,000. We lost more Americans to this pandemic than we did to the Korean and Vietnam wars combined, that also put things in perspective. And that's with all these measures, right, with all these measures, different degrees in different states. There's no question it would be several times higher if we exceeded our hospital capacity because when I mentioned earlier maybe five or six percent of 30-40 year old’s need to go the hospital, 15-20 percent of healthy 70 year old’s go to the hospital. Those are lives that are usually saved in most cases, if you go to the hospital you have a pretty good shot of walking out on your own two legs, you know, call it nine and ten. But without the hospital, all of those folks that needed hospitalization don't make it, they don't make it. They needed oxygen in most cases, ventilators in some, but you're talking an immense fatality rate if we don't have the basic hospital care that's needed for folks.

WW: So, there were two elements of the Cares Act, Governor, that I just want to get you to comment on. One was the stepped-up unemployment benefits of $600 per week for unemployment insurance and the other is the eviction moratorium on rental housing and also on single family housing on mortgages that Fannie, Freddie and HUD back.

On the unemployment benefits, the state unemployment trust fund had $1,000,000,001 in it prior to the crisis. You paid out $315 million in the month of April alone and my understanding is the state unemployment trust fund will run out of money by July if it keeps going at this rate.

To give listeners sort of a comparison number to that, at the height of the Great Financial Crisis in May of 2009, Colorado's unemployment trust fund paid out $103 million that month and just last month it was $315 million.

How important, Governor, is two things. One, the boost of $600 per week, which in the Heroes Act is to be extended until January of 2021 and then, second of all, the monies that are in the Heroes Act that come to the states to be able to prop up state budgets to be able to continue to pay the state's portion of that unemployment insurance.

JP: Well I don't expect that the $600 step up will continue past, I believe July, I think is when it expires. It has also created a disincentive where many particularly low wage earners actually earn more on UI then they might earn by working, so it's created a disincentive in the system.

We obviously care about the solvency of our unemployment trust fund and so we're obviously working - and it's not even necessarily worth it to do that - we're doing contingency planning now, but nobody knows what the future trajectory is. I have no idea, no economist does what the unemployment rate is going to be in August, what the unemployment rate is going to be in December, so we're not going to commit to any actuarial model. We're certainly looking at different contingencies the way we can make it solvent but at this point it's premature to really plan that out because there's just a huge band of uncertainty in what the future looks like.

WW: If you don't get the $600 per week boost out of an additional federal bill-- in early May you passed an anti-eviction Executive order in the state of Colorado to make it so that renters would be able to stay in place and, as you know, the Cares Act had an eviction moratorium for any dwelling that had a government guaranteed loan on it. If any extension of the Cares Act - and the Heroes Act right now is calling for another 12-month moratorium on evictions - I have talked to many, many owners of commercial real estate properties and multifamily properties and if they lost control of their properties for another year and people didn't have any threat of being evicted from the properties, what would happen to rental properties across the country, I shudder to think about. If an extension or a new Act didn't have renter protection to it, would you think about putting another Executive Order in place as it relates to an anti-eviction policy in the state of Colorado?

JP: So, again, I don't expect that that component of the Heroes Act will be part of any federal legislation, I wouldn't worry about that. We are trying to figure out - what happened in effect is the courts that normally have the civil enforcement mechanism for evictions largely shuttered, and appropriately so, they couldn't convene safely in April and May. There's some work they had to do, right, you know turning around a criminal indictment, a writ of habeas corpus, there was certain work they had to do, and they did that necessary work.

But in prioritizing their work, in Colorado at least, and I would expect it's similar across the country, there were not eviction orders that were granted other than that for imminent public safety needs - I mean if somebody was running a meth lab that was a danger to the neighborhood, they could have gotten an emergency eviction order but for non-payment the courts did not issue those in April or May. I think they're slowly going to be returning to that in June. They are not yet at full capacity and the courts have a civil backlog in particular and they, unfortunately, have a criminal backlog too, but somewhere in that mix they will begin to process eviction notices.

WW: So you mentioned that restaurants are opening today - I got a lot of questions at the beginning of this Governor from people saying are we going to have a ski season in 2020 into 2021 and with A-Basin opening today, I think it's fair to say that other than another surge that comes back in the fall really hard that people want to plan on a 2020-2021 ski season. Is that correct?

JP: Well you know, here's the thing, and if anybody's been to A-Basin - have you been to A-Basin, Willy?

WW: I have, I’ve skied A-Basin.

JP: So, if you're into skiing for the athleticism and the sport of skiing it's a relatively safe thing to do. We could have even had it, there’s a way to do it safely, at the height of the crisis, there's no inherent reason people couldn't ski. But the problem is not the skiing, it’s the socialization that occurs with skiing. If you've been to A-Basin it's like a party at the bottom of the hill normally, I mean there’s kegs, there's coffee, there's music. It's fun, that's what you do there, I mean it's like oh and by the way you might ski, right? That's the experience and so people go to our world class mountain resorts, Vail, Aspen, absolutely skiing is part of it but people usually aren't there just for skiing.

So, this is different, in A-Basin now you can ski. There's no party, there's no bars, you’re not mixing. Skiing is reasonably safe, your space, the family can come if you’re on a chair lift. If you're in it for the sport, skiing is a very good safe thing to do outside and, in that sense, of course ski season can open, its open now. In the sense of can it be that social environment that we all love in addition to skiing, that's the big question mark for next season, certainly not right now, that would lead to another outbreak, there's no question.

WW: So, you mentioned kegs and coffee. The Chancellor of the University of Colorado said that Boulder is going to open up on August 24th - I'm assuming that he spoke to you as it relates to that decision to open. What's your thoughts as it relates to universities across the country opening and specifically C.U. Boulder opening on August 24th?

JP: Yeah, we certainly hope that all of our, I think it was no question they were going to open. I think the question is do we have our residential dorms operating and they are. I think it's great because some kids simply can't go if they don't have residential dorms. I expect that many kids who can, and many parents will induce their kids to start out online. And that's not bad, I think they can learn online and at same time those dorms will be at reduced capacity which is very important. So, I would be thrilled from a health perspective if only 60 percent of the kids are living in the dorms rather than 100. That means more spacing. It means they can space out their meals. It means doubles are now singles. It means triples are now doubles. That would be very helpful. I think that just happens naturally because some of the kids aren't going to feel that they're fully safe or ready yet and they're just going to do it from their parents’ basement.

WW: So how do we stay on this path Governor in the sense that your administration has put out very specific guidelines on things such as workplace outbreaks and the recommendation that temporary closure of any workplace or facility where there are two cases of COVID-19 in a 14-day period. Your Executive Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment said that if the state is not able to control the virus we’ll have to return to a stay at home.

So how do you as we move forward here, because the number of cases is likely going to stay in this sort of maybe 300-400 on a daily basis and if you look at that as it relates to it’s not going to overwhelm the hospital system, it's not going to overwhelm the testing capacity and at the same time it's going to be out there so we're going to see these flare ups. How do you keep the state and how do we keep the country moving forward and not stepping back?

JP: So, we need, of course, to wear masks when we're out in public and around others, no question. We all should take very seriously social distancing, which means can you see other people, you can, but you should be targeting, doing it a lot less than you did pre crisis. If you absolutely have to get together with a neighbor and have a barbecue, okay, but that block party for your neighborhood, don't do it. If you really want to go out to a restaurant, you're welcome to, they’re open in Colorado, groups of eight or less, but not mixing with other people in the restaurant, just sticking with the folks that you came with. People are smart, people are safe, doing the best we can.

You're right, what does success look like? It looks like we're probably hovering around where we are and, to be clear, that success means that yes, people are still hospitalized most days every day for Coronavirus. But it also means that we're not exceeding our capacity. It means we're taking extraordinary steps to protect those who have a much higher fatality rate in their 70’s and 80’s and those with pre-existing conditions. And we manage this until there’s a vaccine or a cure. You mentioned Remdesivir, that's not a full cure, it has therapeutic benefits. There could be a cure before there's a vaccine. Think of HIV/AIDS, there's still no vaccine for it but there’s effective therapies, there’s effective cures, it can be held in abeyance with a regime of pharmaceutical therapy indefinitely. This one might have a vaccine soon. We sure hope it does. If not, there's a number of cures and therapies that are being worked on because if the fatality rate can be reduced 75-80 percent – again, there's not the evidence that Remdesivir does that, I think it's more modest - but if it can be reduced significantly that would also be a game changer.

WW: Final question because I know you’ve got to jump. When are we going to have the first concert at Red Rocks?

JP: Well I think we could have a concert now like we're going to have baseball games, I hope, and football games there just won't be 15,000 people roaring. It can be televised, it can be online and that may happen first, Willy, I mean it is, I think with baseball which I hope happens in early July, they can play in a reasonably safe manner, the fans will be there but it'll be televised. If there's a band that wants to do Red Rocks, they can do it without the crowds, it can be televised, it could be a great event.

I think before 10 -20,000 people can congregate in a reasonably safe way there's going to need to be progress on a cure or a vaccine, otherwise that would likely lead, almost certainly would lead, I might add - right now we’re at maybe about 1 in 500 Coloradans are contagious with coronavirus right now so you just do the math. You have a stadium of 10,000 people, you're guaranteed to have a dozen folks that are contagious and that is going to go instantly from a dozen in that environment to 150 folks who have it and then they're going to spread it. That's the reason limiting social interactions, small groups are so important because if you go to a picnic and you're contagious with the coronavirus without knowing it, and it's a group of 10 people, maybe 2 get it. If you go to a big group of 50, you're talking 8 or 10 people get it and that's an enormous difference in terms of setting off this chain of events with the “are not” that can lead to another outbreak.

WW: Governor you've been extremely gracious with your time. I thank you very, very much for joining us today and I look forward to seeing you soon.

JP: Thank you, Willy, take care.

WW: Great to see you, bye bye.

Filter by Category