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Democratic governor says party should push masks and vaccines ‘as a matter of personal responsibility’


Colorado’s Democratic governor said Sunday his party could better handle the divisive issues of masking and vaccines by talking about it “as a matter of personal responsibility.”

“I think talking about masks and vaccines as a matter of personal responsibility, as a data-driven way to reduce your own personal risk, is the right way to talk about it,” Gov. Jared Polis told Dana Bash. from CNN on “State of the Union” when asked what his advice was to National Democrats looking to win over swing voters in areas where Covid-19 mandates have become divisive issues.

“As long as we’re stuck in this mandate vs. no mandate dichotomy, there are plenty of Americans of all persuasions who rightly react very negatively to being told or coerced into doing something,” he added. “So I think it’s about winning hearts and minds, about taking practical steps to protect ourselves.”

Polis has been praised for its approach to the coronavirus pandemic, with Colorado having a low death rate and high vaccination rate months after dropping the state’s indoor mask mandate. It also resisted reinstatement of Covid-19 restrictions as the Omicron variant wreaked havoc in the US this winter.

The governor’s remarks come as the nation’s Democratic leaders grapple with how to craft policy and messaging around the pandemic as it approaches its third year. As the Omicron wave recedes, some Democratic-led states are preparing to roll back their mask mandates, including Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon. California last week unveiled a rampant strategy to deal with the virus, a phase that would see many of the state’s strict public health measures eased.

Polis, when asked if he thinks the United States has finally reached the endemic phase of Covid-19, stressed that preparing “for an uncertain future” is what is essential right now.

“I think a lot of states are undertaking this. I hope the federal government is too. What does it mean? This means we don’t know which variant will occur, we don’t know when the current resistance we have due to previous infection or vaccine wears off. We have to be ready in six months or a year – if we need it – to be able to quickly administer a large number of doses of a new vaccine or perhaps the same one, “he said, adding that hospitals should also be prepared for possible power surges.

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