Demand Governor Polis Vaccinate Vulnerable Coloradoans

Please sign and share this petition! by March 1st, and demand that Governor Polis offer vaccines to people in prisons and jails and to people experiencing homelessness.

Undeniably, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed massive inequities in our healthcare system and throughout society. With his vaccine schedule, Governor Polis is reinforcing these inequities in Colorado. This is disturbingly evident when we look at prisons and homeless shelters.
According to the COVID-19 Racial Data Tracker ,the county with the highest COVID-19 cases per capita in the entire United States is Crowley County, Colorado. The 5th highest is Bent County, Colorado. What these two communities have in common is that they house private, medium-security prisons. Statewide, Colorado prisons have seen 7,842 COVID cases with a rate of 4,459 per 10,000 prisoners. Compare that to the overall COVID state rate of 676 per 10,000.
Bringing this closer to home, Larimer County Jail has 23 active cases of COVID-19 among inmates and 19 active cases among staff, in an ongoing outbreak that has failed to be contained after nearly two months.

Acknowledging the high risk of contracting COVID-19 in prisons, Polis has prioritized correctional workers to Phase 1B in the vaccination schedule; they can now obtain a vaccine. However, the vaccination schedule does not acknowledge people who live in prisons as having any vulnerability criteria. So someone who is 55 years old and in prison without any documented health issues will not get vaccinated until the summer, when we are in Phase 3. This is unconscionable.
Similarly, Polis has prioritized “direct care providers for Coloradans experiencing homelessness” to be vaccinated in Phase 1B. Yet, there is no category for people who are experiencing homelessness. Larimer County recently provided a sobering example of the high transmission rate of COVID-19 to people staying in homeless shelters: it was reported on December 3, 2020, that 54 people tested positive from the Blue Spruce Warehouse Shelter (50 who were staying at the shelter and 4 staff). This represented over half of the people staying in the shelter. Ten days later, 56 people at Harvest Farm, a facility for people experiencing homelessness in Wellington, tested positive for COVID-19. This represented 90% of all of the residents staying there.
People who live in prisons or homeless shelters bear the same rate of exposure as the people who work there. They are likely more vulnerable to serious illness, given the harsh conditions imposed upon them. There is no rational reason to withhold vaccines from one group while making them available to staff. Compare this practice to Phase 1A, when long-term care facility staff and residents were both appropriately eligible for vaccines. Why should this be different?

The Colorado COVID-19 website reads: “By vaccinating people who are most likely to get COVID-19 first, we can keep more Coloradans safe.”

Apparently, the state does not recognize people who are living in prisons and people who are without housing as even being people. This blatant dehumanization must stop. Let’s demand that it does.

Please sign and share this petition! by March 1st, and demand that Governor Polis offer vaccines to people in prisons and jails and to people experiencing homelessness.

Cheryl Distaso Serves on the Spokes Council for the Fort Collins Community Action Network (


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