Around 10 percent of the Coloradans who are eligible but have not yet started the process to get vaccinations against COVID-19 are legitimately hesitant about getting shots, Governor Jared Polis estimated during an April 27 update about the state's fight against the novel coronavirus. But he said he guessed that a significant portion of the other residents who have yet to do so are simply lazy.
Polis has maintained an overall positive tone throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and this latest address was no exception. But his multiple references to alleged slothfulness suggest his frustration that case and hospitalization rates continue to rise in Colorado even as they're falling in other parts of the U.S., and he's trying every method he can — from energetic cajoling to mild shaming — to address the situation.
The latest data from the CDPHE is "pretty bleak," Polis admitted: 2,015 positive cases today along with 622 people hospitalized, a figure twice as high as the low point for the year. To make matters worse, only about 13,000 COVID-19 tests were performed over the most recent 24-hour period, resulting in a positivity rate of over 9 percent, the worst showing in many months.
The theme of Polis's presentation today was the correlation between vaccination rates and increasing infections. As explained by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment lead epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy, a study of the state's ten most populous counties revealed that the ones with comparatively low vaccination rates generally had higher infection rates, while ones with higher vaccination rates incurred lower infection rates.
For example, Boulder and Jefferson counties both have vaccination rates for eligible Coloradans in the 65 percent range — levels that are short of herd immunity but strong enough to slow community spread. In contrast, El Paso and Pueblo counties have vaccinated far fewer residents by percentage and are suffering spikes in disease transmission as a result.
The best way to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in such locales is simply for more people to get inoculated, and Polis pitched the ease of doing so...hard. He touted the return of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which federal authorities have approved for use again, and announced that no appointments are necessary at any of the six mass vaccination sites across the state — among them Denver's Ball Arena. Indeed, Polis said there are more than 4,000 slots available at the venue over the next two days, and although people can make appointments, spontaneous drive-ups or spur-of-the-moment walk-ins are just fine, too. Likewise, he emphasized the energetic deployment of mobile vaccination buses and stressed that free rides to the nearest site are available simply by dialing 211.
Polis also reminded parents that sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds have already been approved to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and a new partnership with Children's Hospital locations in Aurora and Colorado Springs will make those shots more readily available. That's important, given more stats doled out by Herlihy: She revealed that infection rates for the eleven-to-seventeen-year-old demographic (basically middle-schoolers and high-schoolers) is presently much higher than for adults, and there's also been an increase for the three-to-ten-year- old group that's resulted in a greater number of outbreaks at schools over the past several weeks.
Most of the juvenile spread isn't taking place at the schools themselves, Polis speculated. Instead, he thinks parents or grandparents who've already been vaccinated and have resumed normal activities are taking their unprotected kids along with them — and quite a few of them are coming down with COVID-19 as a result.
Lower vaccination rates among young adults are taking a toll, as well. Polis and Herlihy both stressed that the number of COVID-19 hospital patients in their seventies and eighties has been falling, while admissions involving individuals in their twenties, thirties and forties have been climbing.
In response to questions, Polis said he was open to the possibility of 24-hour vaccination sites if there's enough demand, and Herlihy said there's a good chance that the UK variant could be a significant factor in the ratcheting-up of COVID cases and hospitalizations. But no matter the subject, Polis did his best to respond in ways that were intended to persuade Coloradans who haven't yet gotten jabbed to do so as quickly as possible.
And to stop being so damned lazy.
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