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KUNC is here to keep you up-to-date on the news about COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — Colorado's response to its spread in our state and its impact on Coloradans.

Gov. Polis Tours A Makeshift Hospital He Hopes Will Never Be Used

Gov. Jared Polis addresses the state about the COVID-19 response on April 6 from the governor's mansion.

In a normal April, the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver hosts a car show and business conferences this time of year.

But this week, construction crews are working inside to put 2,000 hospital beds in the convention center to accomodate a possible surge of COVID-19 cases.

"I really hope we don't have to use this facility at all," Gov. Jared Polis told reporters outside the convention center on Friday. "I really hope that. And it's very unlikely it will be used in a large way. But looking at the numbers, it's certainly possible there will need to be dozens of patients here or hundreds of patients here."

Polis said the makeshift hospital should be operational in about two weeks.

It would be used as an overflow facility to treat COVID-19 patients who no longer need critical care at a hospital but still aren't healthy enough to return home.

The state is creating a similar facility at The Ranch in Loveland.

The work is part of a broader plan to increase the state's critical care capacity by thousands of beds so that the health care system is not overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.

Wearing a hard hat before he gave reporters a tour of the facility, Polis also talked about what he thinks Colorado will look like if the stay-at-home order is lifted later this month.

He said he doesn't expect residents will immediately be able go to concerts at the Pepsi Center, attend Rockies games at Coors Field or even crowd into their favorite bars anytime soon.

But he suggested that several retail stores would re-open and people could get haircuts at a salon if rules are in place to limit the number of customers coming in.

"We know the virus will be with us after the stay-at-home is lifted," he said. "It is likely to be part of our future until there is a vaccine or a demonstrably effective treatment … The goal of this entire stay-at-home order is not to end the presence of COVID-19 in Colorado or in America. That's not realistic."

"What is realistic to do is make sure we have the medical capacity in place," Polis continued. "Then we'll be in a place where we can manage it with a scalpel instead of a mallet."

Scott Franz is an Investigative Reporter with KUNC.
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