Gov. Jared Polis urged Coloradans to donate blood as the health care system becomes strained amid the spread of COVID-19.
Patients with that disease don’t need blood, but others who were already fighting ailments do, and blood drives saw cancellations amid COVID-19 concerns, Polis said.
Despite current public health concerns, donating blood is safe, Polis said.
He told Coloradans to visit Vitalant.org for more information.
Relief for laid-off workers. Keeping medical supplies at the ready. Support for homeless shelter staff.
These are among the targets of a new COVID-19 relief fund announced by Gov. Jared Polis on March 18, a donation-based system under an effort called Help Colorado Now.
“We're doing the right thing together, and we will be back together. Coloradans are good-hearted people,” and the state needs to harness that energy, Polis said at a news conference.
Mile High United Way, a metro Denver nonprofit, is the system's “fiscal sponsor,” Polis said, and in just the last two days, the effort raised more than $2.8 million.
The fund aims to address numerous affected areas of life amid the spread of COVID-19, including helping small businesses and affected workers, supporting technology that helps Coloradans connect to each other — for working from home but also for socializing — and for support for mental health and substance use disorders, Polis said.
The governor asked for donations as small as $1 or as large as hundreds — whatever people can afford — or for Coloradans to volunteer their time for causes such as health care assistance, food delivery or mental health support.
“By working together, we can build a cohesive network that makes sure no one falls through the cracks in this difficult time,” Polis said. The system's website is www.helpcoloradonow.org.
People on the front lines of the coronavirus public health crisis face a compounded challenge with their kids home after widespread school district closures, and Polis called together a group of child care providers, advocacy groups and school districts to partner with the Colorado Department of Human Services to arrange emergency child care for those workers.
Those who qualify include doctors and nurses; hospital maintenance workers, including janitorial staff; police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians; correctional officers; and workers in long-term care and mental health facilities. The state hopes to continue this benefit based on its ability to fundraise and acquire federal funds, Polis said. The website for that program is covidchildcarecolorado.com.
As thousands of workers across the state face the fallout from the state's shutdown of dine-in service at restaurants and bars and closure of theaters, gyms and casinos — lasting until at least mid-April — Polis is looking at “every option” to ensure people don't lose housing.
“We're looking at ways to do that and (to ensure) eviction orders aren't processed the way they normally are,” Polis said.
The governor said he “strongly supports” federal cash payments of $1,000 or more dollars per month to citizens, an idea that has been floated at the federal level.
Polis sent a request on March 17 to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a federal agency, asking that small businesses across Colorado can qualify for economic relief loans.
The assistance would also apply to the Southern Ute Tribal Nation and Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Nation if the federal agency approves Polis' request, which is expected to sail through.
Colorado's state government also offers a “work share,” a layoff-prevention program that allows employers to split the cost with unemployment insurance to retain employees.
The program can pay employees up to 26 weeks of work-share benefits as long as their hours are reduced by at least 10% but by no more than 40%, according to the state Department of Labor and Employment. See www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdle/layoffassistance for more information.
Employees who see a reduction in hours, or layoffs, are encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits, which can provide partial wage replacement, at www.colorado.gov/cdle/unemployment.
The state's jobs database, ConnectingColorado.com, will continue to post listings for statewide jobs available.
Along with Colorado's application for SBA loans, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade is working with its local, state and federal partners to identify other financial and technical assistance programs available. Contact the office at 303-892-3840 for more information.
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