Polis says ‘full attention’ is on people 70+ as Biden promises more vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — President Joe Biden announced Tuesday afternoon the country’s vaccine program is in worse shape than his administration thought.

He said the government will increase weekly vaccine distribution by 1.4 million doses. How is the distribution impacting Colorado?

Gov. Jared Polis met with the administration shortly before the announcement. Colorado is outpacing many states. Even with our progress, Polis made it clear: masks are not going anywhere anytime soon. 

“Here in Colorado, vaccines are not sitting on shelves; they are used every day, every week. We need more,” Polis said in his press briefing Tuesday.

Before moving on to anyone else, including people with comorbidities, the governor said the state remains focused on protecting the aging population.

“We are turning our full attention now on our ambitious goal of vaccinating at least 70 percent of Coloradans 70 and up by the end of February. 530,000 Coloradans are in that category. People over age 70 represent 3/4 of the deaths in our state and just over 40 percent of the hospitalizations,” he said.

As everyone in Colorado outside of that age group waits, State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy praised Colorado for a steady decline in COVID cases and hospitalizations but warned that we have to keep our distancing up, even with part of the population getting vaccinated.

“We are 11th in states for the lowest rate of COVID-19 occurring in the country right now. So that’s certainly a position we are happy to be in,” Herlihy said. “If we are able to stay where we are right now at 78 percent (transmission control level), that’s really our best chance at minimizing the number of deaths that occur over time. This is really because as we go through the next couple of months, we are not really at a place where we’ll have herd immunity or population-level protection. So, while individuals that are vaccinated are being protected, we really don’t see the full effect or benefit of the vaccine for many months to come.”

With the U.K. variant believed to be more deadly, Herlihy said our best defense is to stay on track with masks and distancing until at least June.

“As we identify more and more cases of these cases in the state, it’s more and more likely — just as it is around the country — that these cases are individuals who have not left the country. The variant is going to increase, we believe, as time goes on. We just don’t know, at this point, how rapidly we might see that variant increase,” said Herlihy.

With overall cases falling, many people want to know when the state’s COVID-19 dial will change. The governor confirmed Tuesday that it will be modified soon now that more people are being vaccinated.

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