Governor Polis Discusses Colorado’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic with the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis

Thursday, January 20, 2022

WASHINGTON D.C. - Governor Jared Polis was invited to testify before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis today during a remote hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Over the last two years, we have relied on the latest data and science to help guide our response to the virus. We have taken a balanced approach, prioritizing the health and safety of Coloradans, working to lessen the psychological and social impact of the pandemic while minimizing impact on our economy and our kids' education. This has led Colorado to one of the shortest shutdowns, and one of the lowest death rates in the country,” said Governor Polis. “I’m proud of the ways Coloradans have stepped up to get the doctor-approved vaccine to help stop the spread of the virus, and I was honored to share our perspective with members of Congress today to help spur nationwide action to help our country move forward.”

During his testimony, Governor Polis highlighted Colorado’s aggressive approach to getting the doctor-approved vaccine into arms which is why Colorado vaccinated 70% of Coloradans aged 70 and older by mid February, and reached President Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70% of adults by July 4, at our state’s hundreds of free, quick and easy community testing sites. 

The Governor provided the committee with examples of how the administration has worked to tackle this virus from every angle. 

“We made rapid tests available through a home delivery program and I’m happy to see the federal government implementing a similar program nationwide,” Gov. Polis added. 

Colorado also used testing to protect state employees working with some of the most vulnerable under the state’s care, including workers at corrections facilities, veterans nursing homes, and youth detention facilities. Earlier this week, the state launched a new mask delivery program, providing free, medical grade masks to communities across the state, building on our success in distributing millions of medical grade masks to teachers and students at schools. 

85% of Colorado adults have received at least one dose of the doctor-approved vaccine to protect themselves, loved ones, and communities. Colorado ranks 13th among states for vaccinations per 100,000 total population. Colorado ranks 14th among states for vaccinations per 100,000 people ages 5+. 35.3 percent of Coloradans ages 5-11 have received a first dose (relative to 28.4% nationally). 

“COVID-19 will be with us for years to come, and while early data may indicate that we are entering the endemic stages of this virus, we must be prepared for the inevitable lulls and waves that will continue impacting our hospitals, as well as any future events like COVID-19,” the Governor added. 

“We know that there are disruptions in the workforce, especially in healthcare, and we are losing critical nurses, doctors and staff every day. That’s why urgent action from hospitals to improve working conditions and raise wages is needed now.  In Colorado we are working on a plan, with legislators and healthcare providers, to invest in our healthcare workforce and ensure we have capacity to respond to the pandemic, while also caring for any other Coloradan in need of a hospital bed. But we can’t stand alone, this has to be nationwide.  And it’s not only about the need for available hospital beds, we must also find a way to integrate our pandemic response back into the healthcare system where it belongs,” the Governor told the Congressional committee today.  

Governor Polis highlighted how the state set up testing sites, vaccine clinics, and distributed therapeutics, all of which were necessary during the public health emergency. But moving forward, our medical system - including doctors, pharmacies, urgent care sites and more - should be providing this care as they do for all other conditions. 

The Governor discussed with the committee how FEMA should reimburse the costs associated with equipping primary care and pediatric physicians to provide vaccines and how the federal government can help schools with onsite designated school nurses to help administer tests, take temperatures, and catch cases in their infancy to avoid outbreaks, keep kids safe and to ensure that our kids can get the education they deserve in the classroom.