Colorado Governor Jared Polis has put state employees on notice - get vaccinated or else.

After more than a year and a half of encouraging and pleading with Coloradans to wear a mask- and more recently to get vaccinated, the governor's tone is suddenly less friendly.

On Sunday, Governor Polis issued an executive order which speeds up the process by which state workers can be terminated for not complying with the vaccine mandate. In the order, Polis wrote, "The existing process would prevent, hinder, or delay the State in addressing non-compliance by state employees."

What the Executive Order Means

A state rule has been suspended that required written notice be given ahead of a pre-disciplinary meeting for those state employees who are not in compliance with vaccination requirements. Under the new executive order, no meeting is required, and state workers can be terminated immediately if they do not respond to a written notice of disciplinary action within 10 days.

The executive order states:

“the State’s COVID- 19 vaccination requirement” means the requirement that agency staff members and other state employees that interact with vulnerable populations and populations living in congregate living settings are
required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 pursuant to the State policy announced on August 17, 2021."

 

More than 7,000 Colorado residents have died from COVID-19, and the governor says the state has made "tremendous progress in terms of containing and treating infection and distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. So, far, about 76% of Colorado's eligible population have received at least one vaccine dose.

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Governor Has Authority to Take Any Action

The executive order says the governor is responsible for meeting the dangers to the state presented by disasters and called the threat of COVID -19  "a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person, constitutes a disaster for the purposes of this act." It goes on to say, the governor "has authority to take any action in the prevention of, preparation for, response to, and recovery from disasters."

To what extent Governor Polis uses that authority remains to be seen, but, for now, state workers are on the receiving end of Polis' flexing of that authoritative muscle. Will there be mass firings? Based upon the well-documented resistance to the vaccine mandate we've seen in the general population, there may very well be some state-level job openings in the coming weeks.

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