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Coronavirus In Colorado: Researcher Using Metrics To Determine When The Economy Reopens

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) - A researcher who has been studying pandemic preparedness for years says Colorado's economy could start to reopen by May. Dr. Glen Mays, a researcher at the Colorado School of Public Health, is among those advising Gov. Jared Polis.

"It really is all hands on deck, and we're all about acting on the data and evidence," said Mays.

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He adds mass testing is key to lifting the stay-at-home order. Up to half of all people who are infected show no symptoms.

"We can figure out who needs to isolate and who's safe goes back to work."

Policies may be relaxed on a regional basis, Mays says, because of the way the virus has spread in Colorado.

"The outbreaks across Colorado, the epidemic is playing out at different rates, at different parts of our state, and geographic customization to management."

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Mays says hospital utilization is another key metric researchers are monitoring.

"We're over peak phase of demand for health care resources. We're confident that we will start to see some selective relaxation of social distancing."

Based on new projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, one of the top modeling centers in the country, Colorado has more than enough beds and ventilators to meet the expected demand. Mays says models at the Colorado School of Public Health are also optimistic.

"Are we close to hitting the peak?" CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd asked.

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"I think we're close to hitting that peak this month, very, very soon, whether it's this week, next week," Mays responded.

Mays says if current models hold, we could see Colorado start to reopen by May, but it will be gradual.

Resuming activity too quickly, he says, could risk a second surge of infections. The timing, he says, depends in large part on the availability of tests and health care workers to conduct the tests and isolate those who are infected.

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