In milestone, Polis ends health emergency executive orders, issues new one

By: - July 9, 2021 2:09 pm

Gov. Jared Polis gestures a sign of approval before he signs for delivery for the state’s first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, early Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in east Denver. The state received 975 frozen vials of the vaccine, which will be distributed immediately. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, pool)

Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday, citing the success of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, announced that he had ended health emergency executive orders related to COVID-19.

Polis first declared a disaster emergency, a power granted to the governor by the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act, on March 10, 2020, and he has since issued more than 400 executive orders. A large portion of the executive orders, which typically expire after 30 days, renewed previous orders, and many had already permanently expired as COVID conditions have improved. The orders covered such areas as health care, economic relief, unemployment, evictions, the criminal justice system, and face masks and other direct coronavirus action.

“This has been a challenging year for our state and country. We’ve experienced pain and loss but through it all, Coloradans did their part, made good choices by wearing masks, socially distancing, and sacrificing moments with loved ones, and we succeeded in having one of the lowest COVID fatality rates in the nation,” Polis said in a statement announcing the end of the executive orders. “And while we have reached a milestone with over 70% of our state receiving the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, we must remain vigilant.”

While the governor announced he was ending the state’s “health emergency declaration,” Colorado remains under the disaster emergency that Polis initiated last year. Though he rescinded many executive orders on Thursday he also issued a new, extensive one. The Recovery Executive Order is part of the governor’s effort to now prioritize vaccine administrations and economic recovery.

The executive order expands the pool of health care professionals who can administer vaccines and treat COVID patients, creates incentives for unemployed Coloradans to return to work, retains certain provisions in previous executive orders that provide assistance and relief to rent-payers and those at risk of eviction, and eases access to Medicaid, among other actions.

“My North Star has always been avoiding overwhelming our hospital system, and I’m proud to say that we’ve succeeded in Colorado where others have failed,” Polis said during a video statement on Thursday. “And now, tragically, the vast majority of COVID-19-related deaths are among the unvaccinated.”

The governor’s office reported Thursday that 70.32% of Colorado adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

There have been 560,860 cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. The number of people in the state who have died due to COVID-19 is 7,064.

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