Coronavirus

Polis to Conventions: Dump Bad COVID States and Come to Colorado

Governor Jared Polis celebrating Frontier Airlines flights between Denver and Grand Junction.
Governor Jared Polis celebrating Frontier Airlines flights between Denver and Grand Junction. colorado.gov
Governor Jared Polis didn't hit the panic button regarding rising COVID-19 rates in Colorado during his August 25 press conference about the ongoing battle against the disease. Far from it: He regularly noted that while cases and hospitalizations show no signs of plateauing after a recent upswing, Colorado's statistics are better than those in many other parts of the country — and he used this fact in an effort to persuade organizers of conventions and other events planned for states with bad data to move their gatherings here.

"We're certainly one of the safest states," he said. "I would hope people would consider moving important meetings from Florida, Texas, Georgia and other high-risk areas to Colorado."

Not that Colorado is COVID-free. At the outset of his remarks, Polis revealed that 1,720 new cases were reported today by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and 680 people are currently hospitalized for treatment of the virus — totals that are on par with amounts seen way back in January. But after encouraging folks to wear a mask around others, avoid large gatherings and get vaccinated if they haven't done so already, he stressed that Colorado's hospital capacity is not close to being exceeded, pediatric infections remain at modest levels, and the state boasts the tenth-lowest death rate for the disease in the country.

At that point, Polis shifted to an account of his meeting earlier today with Jeff Zients, one of President Joe Biden's main COVID advisors. Among the topics he discussed with Zients were his administration's hope that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin reimbursing states, including Colorado, for Binax tests of the sort that are being widely used in schools, prisons and other large facilities. He also suggested the institution of a larger window for immunized folks to get a booster shot. Polis cheered reports that this time frame may be expanded to six months, meaning that a third dose could be administered anytime between six and twelve months after an individual received the first two injections.


When Polis took questions, several of the inquiries were off the topic of COVID. Asked about the slow pace of the Colorado Attorney General Office's investigation into the death of Aurora's Elijah McClain,  which took place on August 30, 2019, he defended the AG's work. He also declined to call for the resignation of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, a defender of the Trump election lie who's currently gone to the mattresses with the assistance of MyPillow CEO and notable loonbag Mike Lindell, but rhapsodized about the importance of election integrity.

As for the fight against the coronavirus, Polis continued to back local control even though jurisdictions such as Douglas County have been making a stink about mask use in schools and other safety protocols, and repeated that the state will only intervene if in-person education is endangered. And while he acknowledged that Colorado's case and hospitalization counts are concerning, he still jumped at the chance to pitch the state as a convention destination.

In his words, "Colorado is looking like a better and better place to do business relative to Texas and Florida every day."
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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