Colorado Department of Public Safety and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment release COVID-19 After-Action Report from third party

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Last week, Colorado marked four years since the state’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, the Colorado Department of Public Safety and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are releasing the Colorado Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) After-Action Report (AAR), an analysis of the state’s response to an emergency of unprecedented duration and scale. The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management within the Department of Public Safety commissioned CNA, an independent, not-for-profit research and analysis organization that specializes in critical incident analyses, to conduct the whole-of-state government after-action analysis and develop an after-action report on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To conduct this analysis, CNA examined relevant documents and publicly available information and facilitated after-action interviews of more than 125 individuals involved in the State of Colorado’s COVID-19 response. CNA synthesized and analyzed the information into this report, which follows FEMA’s After-Action/Improvement Planning framework.

In a cover letter to the people of Colorado and future leaders released with the report, Governor Polis provided context for the After Action Report, “The COVID-19 pandemic was ever-changing and kept throwing us new curveballs, but we achieved things we could never have imagined we would need government to achieve, like scaling testing from fewer than 175 tests per week to more than 50,000 a day in a few short months.”

“Early on in the emergency response, the Governor charged us with creating a seamless operation between all governmental agencies with the Dept. of Public Safety and the Dept. of Public Health and Environment leading the way. It was clear that every agency and service provider would be impacted by an emergency at this scale,” said Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety Stan Hilkey. “It took all of us working together in unison to get the job done.”

The State of Colorado is equally grateful to Coloradans who rolled up their sleeves and got the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine, stayed home when needed, and followed public health guidelines.

The magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic was greater than anything the world has experienced in 100 years, both in terms of disease severity and transmissibility. The state had to adapt quickly to an ever-changing landscape, but we did it thanks to the leadership of our Governor, the professionalism and expertise of state personnel, and our partnership with local public health”, said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, CDPHE. “The After Action Report provides a roadmap to institutionalize many learnings of the pandemic.”

COVID-19 represented an unprecedented challenge to the public health system in Colorado and across the world. In response to the airborne transmission, high transmissibility rates, and morbidity of COVID-19, Colorado adopted a data-driven, agile, whole-of-government approach to its pandemic response. With a federal response that was often absent, delayed or ineffective, Colorado took many steps that were, by necessity, new and unproven.

This AAR demonstrates that Colorado's incident command structure facilitated an effective response and fostered many innovations that should continue as Colorado moves forward with emergency planning, including the state’s focus on health equity and improving access for marginalized populations. The report’s recommendations focus on documenting and formalizing many of the steps the state took during the pandemic while developing emergency preparedness plans that clarify specific roles and enhance cooperation between state government and local public health agencies.


Contact: Micki Trost, Strategic Communications Director, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 



Contact: AnneMarie Harper, Communications Director, Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response 


Read the news release issued March 13, 2024.

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