Dec 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Colorado governor says COVID "medical emergency" is over

Polis
Photo: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said in an interview the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines spell "the end of the medical emergency" as it relates to the virus, and he will not implement a statewide mask mandate in response to the Omicron variant.

Why it matters: Polis told Colorado Public Radio he prefers pushing vaccinations versus mask mandates, and that the latter should be left to localities. He added that public health officials "don’t get to tell people what to wear."

  • "You don't tell people to wear a jacket when they go out in winter and force them to [wear it]," he said. "If they get frostbite, it's their own darn fault. If you haven't been vaccinated, that's your choice. I respect that. But it's your fault when you're in the hospital with COVID."
"The data we have so far shows that the vaccines do hold up well against the omicron variant. Obviously, if that changes, we want to look at what other techniques we could use to reduce the spread of the virus. We want to see what new information emerges about the omicron variant and how well vaccines and natural immunity hold up to it."
— Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to Colorado Public Radio

Between the lines: An early estimate published yesterday by the UK found that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are only about 30% effective against symptomatic infection with Omicron, and the AstraZeneca vaccine isn't effective at all, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.

  • A booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine, however, increases effectiveness to 70-75%.

What they're saying: "We see [the availability of vaccines] as the end of the medical emergency," Polis said.

  • "Frankly, people who want to be protected" have gotten vaccinated, he added. "Those who get sick, it's almost entirely their own darn fault."
  • "Eighty-four percent of the people in our hospitals are unvaccinated, and they absolutely had every chance to get vaccinated."
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