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Dem Governor Signs Executive Order to Turn Away Unvaccinated from Hospitals and Prioritize Treatment to Vaccinated Patients

Update: Colorado Governor Jared Polis’s Deputy Press Secretary Elizabeth Kosar responded to the story. Her statement is provided in full below.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis has signed an executive order that constitutes a flagrant assault on medical ethics, as well as a human rights violation. The executive order would turn those who have decided to remain unvaccinated for Covid-19, whether for reasons of freedom of conscience or for natural immunity, and to prioritize medical treatment to the vaccinated.

“Hospitals in Colorado are being allowed to turn away patients as the state experiences its worst Covid surge in a year,” NBC reported.

“An order signed Sunday by Gov. Jared Polis gives health care professionals the authority to prioritize crisis care under the direction of the state health department,” the report continued.

“While the state has a nearly 80 percent partial vaccination rate, unvaccinated people with severe Covid-19 are overwhelming hospitals, many of which reported being over 90 percent capacity,” said Scott Bookman, Covid-19 incident commander for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The executive order’s language is clear: It authorizes discrimination against those who are not vaccinated for Covid-19.

“Pursuant to the authority vested in the Governor of the State of Colorado and, in particular, pursuant to Article IV, Section 2 of the Colorado Constitution and the relevant portions of the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act, C.R.S. § 24-33.5-701, et seq., including C.R.S. § 24-33.5-704.5(1)(e)(II), I, Jared Polis, Governor of the State of Colorado, hereby issue this Executive Order authorizing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to order hospitals and freestanding emergency departments to transfer or cease the admission of patients to respond to the current disaster emergency due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Colorado.”

“My administration, along with other State, local, and federal authorities, has taken a wide array of actions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, prevent further spread, and protect against overwhelming our health care resources,” the executive order adds. “Despite significant progress, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases, largely due to the highly contagious Delta variant and the 20% of Coloradans who have yet to get the highly effective, safe vaccine. As a result, the number of persons seeking medical treatment at hospitals may exceed the capacity of any given hospital. The State faced this same scenario in November 2020, when I first issued this Executive Order.”

Thus, there has not been “significant progress” despite mass vaccination for Covid-19. The vaccines did not stop the spread of the virus. A 70% vaccination rate with a shot that stops transmission is widely considered sufficient to slow or stop pandemics.

“If you are unvaccinated, a regular trip to the grocery store, a night out to dinner are more dangerous than they have been at any point during this pandemic,” Polis said in a Covid-19 update. “The delta variant is brutally effective at seeking out the unvaccinated, like a laser-guided missile.”

“A total of 1,358 Covid patients were hospitalized across Colorado on [the previous] Wednesday, almost a 50 percent increase from the 909 Covid patients hospitalized on Oct. 3, according to the state’s Covid-19 dashboard,” NBC noted.

“Covid hospitalization rates have been steadily growing since a summer low in Colorado, with 455 reported at the start of August. Polis said the state has the fifth-highest number of Covid cases in the country,” the report added.

Meanwhile, the State of Florida has the lowest Covid case rates in the United States with no state vaccine mandates, no mask mandates, no vaccine passports, and no discrimination against patients who have decided for personal reasons not to be vaccinated.

The Office of Governor Polis provides the following statement:

The Executive Order D 2021 135 authorizes the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) to determine whether a hospital or freestanding emergency department is at, or reasonably anticipated to reach, capacity. CDPHE is authorized to direct those facilities to transfer patients to prevent overwhelming the capacity of a facility and its staff. The Executive Order doesn’t even mention or have anything to do with vaccination status.

Federal law prohibits hospitals from refusing to provide emergency care to individuals based on their inability to pay. The Executive Order states:

A hospital must comply with the non-waived sections of the EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act), including the requirements to provide stabilizing treatment within the hospital’s capabilities and capacity prior to the initiation of a transfer to another hospital, and to provide a medical screening examination to any individual who comes to the emergency department and requests examination or treatment.”


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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.