DENVER (AP) – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Monday extended his statewide stay-at-home order until April 26 to help curb the spread of the coronovirus.

Speaking from the governor’s mansion, Polis said the spread of the disease had slowed but called on residents to continue to keep social distance.

“If there’s any way to safely end it sooner, I will,” he said. “And likewise, if Coloradans aren’t staying at home, and the numbers of dead and dying continue to pile up, it could go longer.”

The initial stay-at-home order was set to expire April 11.

Polis again cited the widespread use of masks in effective virus containment strategies in South Korea and Taiwan and called for wearing homemade versions when running essential errands allowed under his order.

Colorado’s coronavirus death toll has reached at least 150, with 5,172 recorded cases and 994 people hospitalized, although health officials estimate that between 17,000 and 18,000 people have contracted the virus.

“We are still at the beginning of the epidemic,” Dr. Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, said during a virtual news conference Monday.

She and other officials declined to predict a peak in cases, saying it could come mid-May or any time during the summer.

Meanwhile, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy estimated Colorado has achieved a 45% social distancing compliance rate following the March 26 statewide stay-at-home order. The estimate is based on real-time data that includes information gleaned from traffic patterns and cellphone locations. The full effect of the order can’t yet be gauged, but she estimated 1,200 cases have been prevented.

At 60% social distancing, the need for intensive care unit beds will surpass what’s available in mid-May, she said, but enough ICU beds will be available if Colorado achieves a social distancing rate of 70% to 80%.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause pneumonia.

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