State health officials say real figure is "four to 10 times" what’s reported as they ask the federal government for more resources

Though the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports 3,728 positive cases of coronavirus as of Thursday, there are probably "four to 10 times that number of people with COVID-19 than have tested positive."


"From what we’ve seen in other states and other countries, we believe there are multiple more cases out there than we are aware of because of the lack of testing from the federal government," said Scott Bookman, the state’s incident commander for COVID-19 response, at a news conference Thursday.


In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis urged the federal government to send more testing supplies to Colorado as the state’s number of coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise.


"We are facing a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies to protect our health care workers and first responders," Polis wrote. "Colorado’s COVID-19 death rate is rising faster than any other state right now; the pandemic is spreading so fast that lags in testing are masking the true conditions experienced by Coloradans across the state."


He demanded from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Health and Human Services:


• 4.46 million surgical masks.


• 4.3 million glove pairs.


• 2 million N95 masks.


• 720,000 gowns.


• 880,000 face shields.


• 10,000 ventilators, and associated equipment and pharmaceuticals.


The state also needs more testing kits, as there currently only 4,200 available — not enough for the number of health care workers.


"We’re not even close to what we need to test everyone," said Mike Willis, director of the State Emergency Operations Center.


As of Thursday, the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment reported 28 confirmed positive cases among Pueblo County residents. Two local residents with COVID-19 have died.


The state health department reported three positive COVID-19 cases in Otero County, two in Fremont County and one in Custer County as of Thursday.


rlopez@chieftain.com


Twitter: @lopezricardojr