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DENVER — The Democratic governor of Colorado recently said the COVID-19 emergency is "over" and it's the unvaccinated's "own darn fault" if they get sick from the deadly virus.
Gov. Jared Polis, in an interview with Colorado Public Radio's Ryan Warner on Thursday, also said vaccines have altered the COVID-19 landscape, making masks useful but not required to fight the pandemic.
What did Colorado Gov. Jared Polis say about masks and vaccines?
"Everybody had more than enough opportunity to get vaccinated," Polis told the radio station. "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 made the remarks when he was asked why he wouldn't impose a statewide mask mandate as Colorado has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases and a shortage of hospital beds. He said he favors vaccination over masks even as several counties have issued their own indoor mask mandates to help stop the spread of COVID-19. "Our top goal is always to follow the science, and there was a time when there was no vaccine, and masks were all we had and we needed to wear them," Polis said. "The truth is we now have highly effective vaccines that work far better than masks."
Polis noted wearing a mask "does decrease your risk of getting COVID," but he added "if you get COVID and you are still unvaccinated, the case is just as bad as if you were not wearing a mask."
Why Colorado governor says the COVID-19 'emergency is over'
Asked what he would say to an "exhausted" nurse who works in a COVID-19 hospital unit and wonders why there is no statewide mask mandate in Colorado, Polis thanked "all of our health care heroes." He added: "We have your back. We're doing everything we can to add hospital beds ... so folks can take their breaks and take their days off."
Polis was pressed by Warner to "address the meat of her concern, which is if you are going to do everything in your power, make masks mandatory statewide." In response, Polis said he "didn't hesitate" to issue a statewide mask order early on, but now — almost two years after COVID-19 began widely spreading in the U.S. — "the emergency is over," the governor said. "You don't tell people to wear a jacket when they go out in winter and force them to (wear it). If they get frostbite, it's their own darn fault. If you haven't been vaccinated, that's your choice. I respect that. But it's your fault when you're in the hospital with COVID," Polis said.
Since vaccine doses have been available in Colorado for almost a year now, Polis argues Colorado is at "the end of the medical emergency." "Frankly, people who want to be protected (have gotten vaccinated). Those who get sick, it's almost entirely their own darn fault," the governor said.