Government & Policy

Governor Jared Polis on his leadership style, the future of politics, governing a purple state, and more

June 15, 2022

Governor Jared Polis on his leadership style, the future of politics, governing a purple state, and more

Jared Polis

Colorado Governor

On the latest Walker Webcast, we were joined by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who discussed some of the nation's top issues.

On another episode of the Walker Webcast, we were joined by Colorado Governor Jared Polis. He and Willy touched upon some of the nation’s top issues, including gun control and climate change. They also discussed pride, governing a purple state, where we stand today with the pandemic, melting pot politics, and so much more! 

Willy welcomes Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Governor Polis was born in Boulder, Colorado, and moved to southern California at the age of 5. At 16 years old, he decided he wanted to go to college. He then applied to Princeton, where he was accepted as a junior thanks to his many AP credits. While at Princeton, he was a member of the juggling club and model congress. After losing in the election for student body president at 19 years old, he helped build and sell three companies which were a major financial success. Turning back to politics, he returned to Colorado and was elected to the school board. In 2008, he was elected for his first term in U.S. Congress and was re-elected four more times. 

As the conversation begins, Governor Polis walks us through March 2020, when states had just begun initiating a stay-at-home order in light of the pandemic. Thankfully, they acted early enough in Colorado to prevent a catastrophic loss compared to other areas that acted too late. The government stayed up to speed, monitoring reports of how quickly cases spread via asymptomatic people. He saw shutting down the state as the only way to get through the virus on the other side. He also saw the need to rebuild what public spaces look like to reestablish customer confidence and minimize the chances of an outbreak. 

The death rates peaked about a month after the decision to shut down the government was made, but cases didn’t peak until later. The state took extra measures to ensure employers were administering testing to ensure asymptomatic employees were not bringing the virus into the workplace. Similarly, they were going the extra mile to protect those who were most at risk. Social distancing concepts were implemented in a sustainable way. 

The supply chain disruptions were a major problem in obtaining the necessary amount of Covid tests. As a result of social distancing, Coloradans are healthier than ever and free from colds, the flu, and other illnesses. The state was able to work together alongside hospitals to increase the number of beds by over 20%. About 90% of that are filled by patients without Covid on a daily basis, leaving 10% of beds for Covid patients. Hospitals were trying very hard to meet the demands placed on them. Also, people grew more and more hesitant to go to the hospital for other needs out of fear of contracting Covid. However, the state encouraged people to go to the hospital for serious matters they wouldn’t hesitate about under other circumstances. The risk of a heart attack, say, is much more severe than the risk of getting Covid. Unfortunately, the increased death rate also includes those who would have sought medical attention but didn’t. 

Looking at the numbers of deaths and Colorado’s financial loss, as a result, Governor Polis shares that the economic consequences of a pandemic are inescapable. You can either minimize them by acting early and shutting down or have a much more severe economic event by ignoring the issue, amounting to mass casualties and alarming people into staying home anyway. Thus, a shorter intervention also meant less economic disruption. To put it into perspective, more Americans died from Covid than from the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. 

Prior to the crisis, the state unemployment trust fund contained $1.1 billion. In the month of April alone, they paid out $315 million and were projected to run out of money by July at that rate. At that point, nobody knew what to expect for the coming months. Governor Polis passed an anti-eviction executive order in the state. The Chancellor at the University of Colorado Boulder announced that the school would plan to reopen on August 24. The question wasn’t if the schools would reopen, but more so if the residential dorms would reopen too. Reduced capacity of dorms would mean less risk of spreading the virus. 

As the episode wraps up, Governor Polis shares the measures we can take individually to ensure that we are moving forward out of the virus rather than backward. First, we need to be wearing masks out in public and take social distancing seriously. We can still see people, but it would be best to reduce the frequency of social interactions.

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