Governor Jared Polis said he believes imprisoned people who have been exposed to the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Colorado should not have access to upcoming vaccines in front of people.
This position was expressed twice last week, and it appears to run counter to the vaccination plan of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, published weeks ago. This framework puts incarcerated people at the top of Section 2 (out of three) – under “critical workforce” and “highest risk individuals”, but precedes the general public and people who are considered high risk but not “highest risk”. such as adults 65 years of age and older and adults with diabetes and other COVID-19 comorbidities.
At a joint press conference with Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday, a Fox News reporter asked Polis, “why can inmates be given access before the age of 65 or older, or at high risk?” The journalist also asked Democrat Polis to respond to a Denver Post column given by Republican lawyer George Brauchler from the 18th Judicial District. In this column, Brauchler challenged the plan to distribute state inmates and wrote, “What the hell is Governor Polis doing?
– It will not happen. There is no way for prisoners to get it in front of members of the vulnerable population, ”Polis told the reporter. “Now that we (vaccinate people) are over 65, I would think prisoners in this category would be included, but the vast majority of people 65 and older are free. He first goes to a nursing home, to veterans, to cutting-edge workers.
“So by no means will he go to prisoners,” he chuckled as he uttered the word “prisoners,” before he got to people who hadn’t committed a crime. This is obvious, so they are just fake. Obviously, the actual proposal will change. It will show up next week, somehow the way we’re going to look at this. I think we are waiting for a few words from the CDC.
At a separate press conference last week, Polis was asked a Spanish question about vaccination priorities, to which he replied in part: “Personas libres deben recibirlo antes de personas en carceles”. The statement means that free people must be vaccinated before inmates.
Detainees continue to be among the most vulnerable in the state in terms of the risk of catching the virus. The number of outbreaks in prisons and prisons has mostly dwarfed those living in other settings – this is nationally true, not just in Colorado – and the worst of these have occurred in recent weeks. In mid-November, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office reported that nearly 1,000 positive COVID-19 cases were detected at the Colorado Springs Prison, which has a capacity of about 1,200, at one time.
The vast majority were among detainees, many were not convicted of a crime, and 73 were among employees. One of the biggest concerns for health officials about the epidemics among inmates is that staff members, unlike longer-term inmates, can easily transmit diseases to their communities.
Polis said earlier that prisons and prisons alone do not address the issue of COVID-19, although church life is generally a concern. But state data show that prisons and prisons are in a uniquely dangerous place, largely because they have a much larger population than, say, dormitories or nursing homes. According to state data, thirteen of the 14 environments with at least 100 inhabitants confirmed that they were positive for the virus, and by November 25, they had prisons and prisons. (The 14th is a homeless shelter in Denver.) Poor and colorful people are significantly overrepresented in Colorado prisons and prisons.
On Tuesday, the State Department of Corrections reported that there are currently a total of 11 COVID-19 fatalities among Colorado prisoners. Four of the 11 were only reported last week.
In light of the data, The Denver Post contacted the governor’s office to ask if there was an epidemiological reason for the governor’s position on vaccinations for incarcerated people and where those people would be on the revised priority list.
Polor spokesman Conor Cahill did not answer any of the questions directly in his statement.
“The governor believes that no man, not one in custody, should be denied vaccination. So no prisoner should be placed in front of others just because they are prisoners, ”Cahill wrote.
The governor’s position appears to be at odds with the stated mission of Dean Williams, Polis’s appointee and Colorado DOC director. Williams has often said he thinks the state should work to make prison less punitive – that is, although the prison itself is a punishment, he believes no more punishment should be imposed behind prisoners.
A Williams spokesman declined to give an interview on Tuesday.
The governor’s remarks strongly condemn supporters of criminal justice reform. Rachel Barkow, a professor at New York University, tweeted: “Polis campaigned for a‘ progressive ’vision. But this rhetoric is regressing as much as it can be. People in prisons are people, and prisons and prisons are COVID hot spots. No one pronounces COVID, and vaccinations are not given based on the governor’s (faulty) moral compass. “
Rebecca Wallace, an ACLU attorney in Colorado, told The Post that she senses that “except for the corrections, Governor Polis is preparing COVID-19 policy on the basis of expert public health guidance in all areas”. He said he was disappointed to see that Polis threw his hat in the ring with punishment-oriented George Brauchler rather than in his own health department.
Wallace said, “Governor Polis has promised to vaccinate free colorants in front of prisoners and put politics above public health. In prisons and prisons, the biggest outbreak of the state is taking place, and not only the inmates but also the staff and surrounding communities are at serious risk.