Polis: We Hope Misery of Sick, Unvaccinated People Helps Get Message Out

Governor Jared Polis's current Facebook profile pic.
Governor Jared Polis's current Facebook profile pic.
Governor Jared Polis has been staging regular press conferences on the subject of COVID-19 in Colorado for well over eighteen months, and during his October 6 session, the strain of reiterating information about the dangers of the virus (not to mention its Delta variant) and the need for everyone to be vaccinated was evident. He stressed on several occasions that if all Coloradans were immunized, the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths in the state would be much lower, and even expressed the hope that "the misery" of unvaccinated people who get sick from the disease helps spread the message about the importance of getting jabbed.

The numbers Polis provided underscored this point. In the last day, he said, 1,838 cases of COVID-19 were counted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, as were 922 hospitalizations, which he characterized as among the "highest numbers we've had since January." Of those admitted for COVID symptoms, 710 were unvaccinated, while 212 had received their shots — and he argued that universal inoculations would almost certainly have reduced the latter sum by a significant amount.

The cumulative hospitalizations reduced intensive care unit beds in the state to just 149, another total that hasn't been this bad since the dawn of 2021. But Polis emphasized that there are presently zero patients being treated for vaccine side effects. As a result, unvaccinated individuals with COVID-19 are suffering "for no good reason.... There simply wouldn't be a crisis if Coloradans stepped up and were vaccinated."

Shortly thereafter, Polis talked up booster shots for front-line workers and those over age 65 who got their initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine six months or more ago. (Federal officials are expected to discuss giving their blessing to Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters October 14-15, with a separate conversation involving Pfizer shots for kids between five and eleven slated for October 26.) To reinforce third doses, he introduced Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera, who talked about her experience of getting the booster yesterday, October 5. She had only minor symptoms afterward; the most serious was an aversion to doing the dishes or vacuuming, she joked. But even though her portion of the program was upbeat, she also characterized the choice of so many Coloradans to skip vaccinations as a "dangerous decision."

The next guest was Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn, who talked about his district's policy of requiring all staffers to be vaccinated; tomorrow, October 7, is their deadline for doing so, and while he didn't have final numbers, he estimated that around 96 percent of employees have already complied. Moreover, APS is requiring student athletes over age twelve to be vaccinated, since sports is considered a high-risk activity.

Polis's move to spotlight Munn on such subjects can be interpreted as tacitly endorsing aggressive safety measures without actually mandating them — and he continues to resist putting such orders in place. A reporter during the question-and-answer session that followed the main addresses pointed out that most schools in southwest Colorado have made masking voluntary, and as a result, many of them have worryingly high COVID case levels. But when she asked if Polis would consider addressing this situation with a masking edict, he pivoted to again promoting vaccinations for those eligible to get them and urging parents of those in the five-to-eleven-years bracket to sign up for immunizations as soon as the feds give the nod.

As for the unvaccinated folks who've caught COVID, Polis bluntly stated that "some of them will make it, and some will die." And although he wished them well, it's clear he wishes they would have just gotten the damn vaccine before they caught the disease.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts