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'You only live once': Governor says fully-vaccinated people can live their lives normally

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Governor Polis describes the steps forward the state will take to live with the COVID-19.
Gov. Polis Facebook Page

DENVER “If you’re fully vaccinated, especially if you’re up to date with all of your vaccines, you can feel comfortable living your life as normal," said Governor Jared Polis nearly two years since Colorado saw its first case of COVID-19. 

On Friday, Feb. 26, Polis and members of the state's public health team held a press conference addressing the difference in our fight against the virus now compared to two years ago. They also announced a "roadmap" for moving forward with COVID-19. 

“The virus is here and will likely be the rest of our lives," said Polis, but continued to say we are more equipped to handle the virus. "It’s time to turn the page and start a new chapter."

He and Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Scott Bookman, the COVID-19 incident commander, addressed the current levels of vaccinations, testing and healthcare staff. 

Polis said more than 90% of Coloradans have some degree of immunity against COVID-19 whether that be through vaccinations or from getting the virus. 

Watch the governor's full press conference below. 

The provided roadmap for moving forward includes four main tenants:

  1. Hospital readiness
  2. Public Health readiness and surge planning
  3. Healthcare workforce expansion
  4. Engaging in federal government reform


"We need to normalize COVID-19 in our healthcare system," said Bookman. He continued to further explain that means putting COVID-19 treatment and prevention back into traditional healthcare settings. And yet he said this also means preparing the larger system for a surge of the virus if and when that happens. 

One of the other main challenges will be building back up that healthcare workforce. A USA Today-Ipsos survey of healthcare workers published on Feb. 22 2022 found one in three thinks the system is on the verge of collapse. It also found 23% say they are likely to leave the field in the near future.

Looking at Colorado data, the state's COVID-19 tracker website said on Friday, Feb. 25 that 39% of facilities were expecting staff shortages within the next week. Some of that could be attributed to sick staff; however, many fear burnout from the last two years is leading to many leaving the workforce. 

"We now need to put efforts to building the workforce back up over the course of this next phase to ensure our healthcare systems are robust and intact to have the ability to provide care for those with COVID and all other illnesses and injuries that occur day-to-day," said Bookman.

In the coming days, Polis and state public health officials will urge the federal government to implement a national strategy for long-term COVID planning. Polis also expressed his immense frustration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He urged the organization to soon approve the COVID-19 vaccine for all ages. Right now, it hasn't been approved for children under the age of five. 

In the end, the governor emphasized the importance of the vaccine and how those who have two doses and the booster and are healthy individuals shouldn't feel guilty living life normally, resembling something prior to the pandemic. He also said the plan moving forward allows the state to adjust if more pressing health care needs come up. 

“Throughout this pandemic we’ve relied on data and science to guide us and that’s exactly what we’re doing today," said Polis. 

Amanda Horvath is a multimedia producer with Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at

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