Gov. Jared Polis on Friday lamented that “misinformation and targeted lies” are creating resistance to vaccine science and killing Coloradans.
Polis was presenting to the legislative Joint Budget Committee about state spending in the 2022-23 fiscal year. He prefaced his budget proposal with a commentary on COVID-19.
“(O)ur hospitals are now filled, largely with unvaccinated Coloradans, many of whom are victims of misinformation campaigns and targeted lies that are being spread about the lifesaving vaccine,” he said.
“Unfortunately it’s that misinformation that’s making these unprotected Coloradans fall victim and get very ill and in some cases die from the virus, as well as making them into vessels for new mutations, like omicron. Not only does this misinformation pose a danger to our public health, but with every new mutation the economy here and across the world is impacted.”
Close to 30% of Coloradans remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data. Now in its fifth wave of the virus, Colorado is reporting several thousand new cases of the virus each day. As of Thursday the state reported having only 67 intensive-care hospital beds and 399 general hospital beds available statewide. Polis and other officials have warned for weeks that hospital capacity could be exceeded here this month.
About 82% of the Coloradans hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday were unvaccinated, the state said. More than 9,500 Coloradans have died from the virus.
Polis, who touts the benefits of vaccination in virtually every public appearance, has mostly refrained from venting about vaccine hesitancy or anti-vaccination campaigns. But he has let frustration slip on some occasions.
“It’s just like, science solved this thing but then people screwed up the solution,” Polis said in August during a conversation with the creators of the TV show “South Park.”
“I have no qualms if (unvaccinated people) have a death wish, but they’re clogging our hospitals,” he told reporters last month.
Prior to the pandemic, the governor’s stance on vaccine skepticism was a source of great frustration to his fellow Democrats in the state legislature, who in fact scuttled a 2019 bill to improve childhood vaccination rates because they couldn’t agree to terms with Polis. Another version of that bill passed last year.
Polis two years ago called himself “pro-choice” on vaccines and in an interview with The Denver Post months before the COVID-19 vaccine became available, Polis twice declined to say whether he still identifies that way.
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