This undated photo, provided by NY Governor's Press Office on Saturday March 27, 2021, shows the new "Excelsior Pass" app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. (NY Governor's Press Office via AP)
In this undated photo, the “Excelsior Pass” app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. AP, File)

Gov. Jared Polis, joined by state and local health officials, have mapped out Colorado’s likely road to the end of the pandemic.

The state could, and should, take a different path.

Last week, Polis and top state health officials relayed the unwelcome news that, despite free, easy and widespread access to a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, state hospitals are nearly overwhelmed with cases.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, The Sentinel and millions of others have watched as endless opportunities to mitigate the deadly virus have been discarded by millions of others for no logical reason.

Contrasting the bad news that at least 20% of eligible adults have not received vaccines, is that 80% have. Polis, state and local officials have done an outstanding job making vaccines available to anyone who wants them. Now, making the vaccine easily available for younger Colorado residents can only reduce infections and the problems the inflict.

But it’s still not enough. The world marked another dubious milestone this week, moving past 5 million deaths caused by the coronavirus. The United States retains its top rank on the list of nations with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths.

Making the climbing death toll, and unnerving news about flooded Colorado ICU wards and hospitals, all the more distressing is that the solution to saving lives, lifestyles and livelihoods is so easily available for nearly everyone in the state.

It’s been nothing short of a miracle that a provably safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 has been discovered, scrutinized and mass produced in less than a year after the coronavirus began spreading across the planet.

It’s been nothing less than absurd that so many Colorado residents have hesitated to get it or outright rejected it for absolutely irrational and befuddling reasons.

After endless months of trying to understand it, to overcome it and even get around it, state and local health officials have wrongly decided to simply tolerate the confounding behavior of about a third of the state at the calamitous expense of everyone else.

Colorado has spent millions of dollars trying to cajole sophistic anti-vaxxers with gift cards, sweepstakes, compelling facts, dismal news of celebrity deaths — and even undeniable facts and reality. Despite that, it’s clear that hundreds of thousands of state residents will risk their lives, those of their friends and families and millions of strangers to stand their political ground on a non-political problem.

Stop coddling anti-vaxxers at the expense of the health care system and reasonable residents.

Of course the government shouldn’t, and wouldn’t, force anyone to undergo any medical procedure they don’t want.

They don’t.

What vaccine requirements Polis and state officials have so far backed are simply that, job requirements. Health professionals interacting with the public during a pandemic must be vaccinated, or not act as health professionals. Teachers, interacting with students, many who, until this week, cannot officially be vaccinated must vaccinate to protect themselves and children. The alternative? Don’t teach until the crisis passes.

It may be politically and logistically difficult to require people to prove they are either vaccinated or disease free before mingling with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people. But the option is risking infection with a virus that is easily spread and too often deadly.

Instead, elected and appointed officials continue to pass the buck onto local businesses, who “can” decide themselves whether to assume the role of the health department.

Rather than mandating masks and vaccine passports in public places, we’re being forced to watch the virus burn through unvaccinated and vaccinated people, hoping to keep inevitable collateral damage at acceptable levels.

It’s easy to sympathize about the exhaustion and frustration from trying to help irrational people make a rational life-saving decision. But giving up is the wrong answer.

Polis, state and local health officials should immediately restart mask mandates and determine where and how to ensure people in public places are either vaccinated and/or virus free.

It’s not just unfair to put the majority of Colorado residents at risk to accommodate a minority of confused errants, it’s dangerous.

The misleading path of least resistance — without meaningful vaccine and mask requirements — will ultimately cost more lives, more sickness, more disruption and more pain.

But the alternative to Colorado’s laissez-faire approach to the pandemic must come from Polis, the state and local health departments, not from restaurant managers, gym owners and school principals.

16 replies on “EDITORIAL: The pandemic still rages. Colorado must stop coddling irrational antivaxxers ”

  1. It’s been nothing less than absurd that so many Colorado residents have hesitated to get it or outright rejected it for absolutely irrational and befuddling reasons.”

    Speaking as someone who got the shot, let’s not forget that Perry and the Sentinel have been front and center with their condescending, vindictive, rejection-obsessed editorials on this for a year and a half now, thirsting to harm and punish people for not getting this one specific injection, screeching for the government to bring down its heavy hand on anyone who doesn’t go along. For all of their complaints about how much of a bully their political opponents are, they simply aren’t bright or self-aware enough to look in the mirror and realize that people are noting their own smug, bullying behavior and determining that anyone who has to act like that in the service of getting a shot probably doesn’t have their best interests in mind.

    It’s not about public safety, but about the dopamine rush they get from forcing their opponents to do what they want them to do.

  2. It’s a shame that Trump and the right-wing media spread so many lies and so much hate-mongering that public health, wearing masks, and proven safe and effective vaccines are somehow now a political issue. And those that blindly listen to their right-wing talking heads are ignoring all science and reason because they’re told “muh freedums!”

    1. public health”–Our so-called betters can’t even keep their narratives straight for more than a few weeks at a time. “Expertise” didn’t die the last year and a half, it committed suicide.

      “wearing masks”–funny, they tried that 100 years ago and it didn’t work either.

      “Proven safe and effective”–which is why infants are immediately getting injected with the Magic Coof Juice to protect them, right?

      1. Step away from the AM radio, take off your aluminum hat, and turn off Fox. Start thinking for yourself instead of parroting these ridiculous falsehoods. Think above your brainstem!

          1. I know that you’re not so hot on science, so let’s test your math skills: Covid-19 deaths in USA, 770,000+, cases 47,000,000+; Colorado deaths, 8600+, cases 750,000+.. As of Monday, we average 96 deaths a day. All the trends are heading the wrong way, and you ReTrumplicants are crying because you don’t want to wear a mask or get a shot that’s been proven safe?

            Here’s a quick fun and easy quiz for you to give you some knowledge so you all won’t seem so ignorant about the problem:

    2. didn’t trump start the whole vaccine thing??
      who or what country is responsible for starting Covid??
      shouldn’t they be held responsible?

  3. Please don’t take this the wrong way but Covid has no cure and is 99% survivable if you have antibodies, if I watched the right tv doctor. Some people have it and don’t know it or show symptoms and others got boosters already. Fully vaccinated, we can still carry it. Since our vaccination record is still our own and should be covered under confidentiality , we don’t know who got vaccinated. How do we close public buildings down to visitors when you can catch it anywhere, anytime, & from anyone? Recently, the municipal building was closed due to Covid but the library was not. I’m not sure if it’s still that way.

  4. My approach in discussing this with those who have been hesitant, even truculent, has been to appreciate the facts of the matter. The first fact is that 99.9% of us do not undersgtand the science of vaccine production even if we appreciate the history of vaccine success, generally. We lay folks don’t really understand how they are produced nor how advancing technology has reduced the production time. It is not wholly unfreasonable to wonder about efficacy and testing when this vaccine came on line in an unprecedentedly short time. The next fact is that information of the efficacy of this vaccine has fluctauted as have recommended treeatment protocols. It is not wholly unreasonable to aqppreciate that this might give those with hesitancy, with caution, some pause.

    Given the forgoing perhaps we can address those hesitancies rather than excoriating some for having them. In my experience excoriating folks hardens their stance. Appreciating and reasoning with folks after listening to their concerns allows thinking to evolve. I, therefore, believe that your editorial is counterproductive to moving the converstation. All this editorial accomplished is whatever cartharsis it provided the writer. Maybe that is well as it seems cartharsis was sorely needed.

    BTW, I actively sought the vaccine for myself at the first opportunity and will be getting the booster this week. While there are still unknowns I find it prudent. I also got my flu vaccinations this fall and my shingles vaccination as well. If it is not inconvenient I will also get the pnemonia vaccine in the next few weeks.

    Have a happy and healthy holiday season.

  5. Demonstrating tribal membership by refusing a free, safe vaccine is the dumbest thing Americans have done in my lifetime, and I’ve lived through 33 years of climate science denial. Truly, propagating virus variants to own the libs is QAnon level delusion, and they richly deserve their Herman Cain Awards.

  6. All hospital costs for unvaccinated people being treated for COVID should be paid by the individual. Health insurance, and the feds, should refuse to cover the cost for the unvaccinated. And let’s make the hospital debt like student loan debt – immune from bankruptcy. It needs to be *VERY* painful to refuse to get vaccinated and subsequently get sick.

    1. Like I said above, all the Branch Covidians have at this point is their vindictive, rejection-obsessed rage as a coping mechanism for the fact that this virus isn’t going away. Ever.

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