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Colorado's Democratic Governor Won't Bring Back Mask Mandates Because 'The Emergency is Over'

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said that he will not reinstate a statewide mask requirement because the coronavirus "emergency is over" and pointed out that residents had ample opportunity to get vaccinated.


In a Friday interview with Colorado Matters, Polis said he favors encouraging vaccinations over state mask mandates and emphasized that public health officials should not be ordering people to wear a face covering.

"The emergency is over. You know, public health [officials] don’t get to tell people what to wear; that’s just not their job," Polis said. "Public health [officials] would say to always wear a mask because it decreases flu and decreases [other airborne illnesses]. But that’s not something that you require; you don’t tell people what to wear."

The governor's office said in a statement after the interview that he was explaining his opposition to state mask mandates but believed that local governments "can and should put disease reduction protocols in place based off their disease levels and community support for those policies."

In recent weeks, Colorado has seen a surge in COVID-19 deaths but has experienced a slight decline in hospitalizations and infections, according to data from The New York Times

Polis highlighted that the majority of people who either die or are hospitalized because of COVID are unvaccinated and that residents have had more than enough time to decide whether they receive their vaccines.

"Everybody had more than enough opportunity to get vaccinated," Polis said during Friday's interview. "Hopefully, it's been at your pharmacy, your grocery store, a bus near you, [or at] big events. At this point, if you haven't been vaccinated, it's really your own darn fault."


The governor went on to acknowledge that, while rare, it is possible for vaccinated individuals to become infected with COVID and noted that those that do experience breakthrough cases, in many cases, are older or had preexisting health conditions.

"I don't want to say that nobody [will get the virus if they’re] vaccinated, but it's very rare," Polis said. "Just to put it in perspective, of the about 1400 people hospitalized, less than 200 (or 16 percent) are vaccinated. And many of them are older or have other conditions. Eighty-four percent of the people in our hospitals are unvaccinated, and they absolutely had every chance to get vaccinated."

"Everybody has had the chance to get vaccinated. And at this point, I think it’s almost like they made a deliberate decision not to get vaccinated," he continued. "I still encourage everybody who hasn’t been vaccinated to get protected. And for those who are, make sure to get that booster after six months. The data shows it’s important and very likely even more so with this omicron variant."

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