Colorado First Gentleman Marlon Reis's COVID-19 Hospitalization Story

First Gentleman Marlon Reis's official State of Colorado portrait.
First Gentleman Marlon Reis's official State of Colorado portrait.
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On the evening of December 6, COVID-19 hit home in the most personal way yet for Colorado's first family.

Just shy of 6 p.m., Governor Jared Polis's office announced that First Gentleman Marlon Reis, the governor's significant other, had been hospitalized just over a week after the couple announced that they'd tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Reis is said to have experienced "a slightly worsening cough and shortness of breath" during the 24-hour period that encompassed the eighth day since his diagnosis. Polis drove Reis to the hospital in his personal vehicle in what was described as a "precaution."

Colorado voters were introduced to Reis during the 2018 campaign for governor, and while his public profile has slowly but steadily risen during the two years-plus since Polis's election, many have only a vague idea about his background. Here are more details, courtesy of his official State of Colorado biography:

Marlon Reis is a freelance writer, an animal welfare advocate, a father, and the first First Gentleman of Colorado. From raising his two wonderful children, to his continued support of animal welfare organizations such as the Wild Animal Sanctuary right here in Colorado, establishing a Colorado for All has already been a central element of Marlon's role as First Gentleman.

Born and raised in Colorado and a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Marlon has resided between his hometown of Boulder, Colorado and Washington, D.C. for the past ten years. In 2011 and 2014, respectively, Mr. Polis and Mr. Reis welcomed a son and daughter to their family, making them the first LGBTQ+ parents in the history of the United States Congress.

Marlon Reis has dedicated his life to serving his community and championing local LGBTQ+ organizations. Marlon has served on the Board of Directors of Out Boulder and worked with The Community Foundation: Boulder County to advocate for equal opportunities for all families. Marlon’s writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Politico, USA Today, 5280, and the Denver Post.

Marlon’s continued dedication to advocacy will now be on the forefront of Colorado’s future agenda. As First Gentleman, Marlon will focus on animal welfare issues, public health and equality for all Coloradans.

In the announcement about his and Reis's diagnoses, Polis sought to downplay the situation. "Marlon and I are feeling well so far, and are in good spirits," he stated, then added, "No person or family is immune to this virus. I urge every Coloradan to practice caution, limit public interactions, wear a mask in public, stay six feet from others, and wash your hands regularly."

Governor Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis as seen in a video for the 2020 Ally Up event. It was published on November 23, five days before the pair tested positive for COVID-19.
Governor Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis as seen in a video for the 2020 Ally Up event. It was published on November 23, five days before the pair tested positive for COVID-19.

The next time Polis publicly addressed the pair's infections was during a December 1 press conference that teamed him with special guest Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious-disease specialist. After again characterizing their symptoms as mild, he noted that each of them falls within the 40-to-64-year-old demographic that accounted for the most hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Colorado at that time.

Statistics suggested they had a one-in-twelve chance of requiring admission to such a facility. "We're hopeful we'll be among the eleven of twelve, but not everyone will be," Polis allowed, given "the nature of math, the nature of statistics." Of those cases severe enough to require hospitalization, "many will make it out...after a challenging recovery, and some won't."

He conceded, "I'm certainly not out of the woods, nor is Marlon. As we know, this can take a different turn."

The next day, December 2, during a press conference about the special legislative session to deal with COVID-19, Polis talked up his own recovery. "I can tell I'm doing better," he maintained. "I'm in the stage where I'm looking forward to the quarantine being over and I can go out again. I had some trouble sleeping, but I'm doing fine now, feeling good — starting to feel antsy, which is probably a good sign."

This message was reinforced by a December 4 update in which the pair were said to have "experienced mild symptoms in the form of lack of sleep and minor headaches" but remained in "good spirits."

Just two days later, the potential shift Polis had teased came to pass for Reis. The governor's office promises updates about his condition as warranted.

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