Colorado Governor Polis Provides Update on COVID-19, Veterans Receive Vaccine
AURORA – Today, Governor Jared Polis provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 at the Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons as residents became some of the first seniors in Colorado to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Colorado has a proud military history and with that history comes a responsibility to care for our Veterans, many of whom are older — especially in the face of a pandemic that has put many at highest-risk of becoming several ill, or sadly, losing the battle to COVID-19,” said Governor Polis. “We are now able to vaccinate those whose legacy has been risking their own lives in the line of duty to save ours, and I was honored to be in Aurora today as our residents and staff of the Fitzsimons facility start to receive the vaccine. Together, we can start climbing out of this public health crisis.”
The Governor held a moment of silence to honor the memories of friends and family members who are no longer with us today due to COVID-19.
The first two residents of Fitzsimons to receive the vaccine today were Melvin Menard, a Marine veteran, and Phil Ross, an Army veteran.
Melvin Menard is an 88-year-old Marine veteran and Purple Heart recipient who served in the Korean war. When he was presented the opportunity after the Korean War to go home he stated, “I decided to stay in the Marines until they officially signed the peace treaty.”
Melvin said that he was looking forward to receiving his vaccine and interested in obtaining an effective vaccine so that all the residents, who have not been able to see their relatives, except virtually, outdoors or through windows for months now, can come and go on their own.
Phil Ross is a 73-year-old army veteran, who served in Vietnam. When Phil was asked what getting the vaccine means to him, he said, “I would do anything to help anyone during this pandemic. I am passionate about making things better for everyone.”
Both Phil and Melvin have been able to take advantage of seeing family through glass windows. Last week, when it was below freezing temperatures, Phil was thrilled to have an outdoor visit with his wife, Maria, even six feet apart. Both of these Veterans have been able to occasionally have outdoor visits with family members and both individuals were diagnosed and have recovered from COVID-19.
Today’s event took place outside while the residents received the vaccine inside the facility. The Governor and family members of the residents provided remarks and greeted their loved ones via video.
Fitzsimons serves Veterans, Veterans spouses and Gold Star parents. Their residents include our brave Veterans that have served in military engagements from World War II to the modern conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In an effort to be as transparent as possible through this process, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched the vaccine data dashboard last week as a tool for Coloradans to track information on the current phase Colorado is in and how many vaccines providers have administered.
Last week Governor Polis announced that the Back-to-School Working Group made recommendations that will guide a return to in-person learning for Colorado’s kids. Many school districts will be welcoming students back in person in January, including Denver Public Schools, Adams 12, Aurora Public Schools, Cherry Creek Public Schools, and Boulder Valley Public Schools.
With the holiday season upon us, Governor Polis reminded Coloradans to continue following the public health direction by wearing masks, avoiding social gatherings with people outside your homes, and staying at least six feet away from others.
Being socially distanced in the great Colorado outdoors is an excellent way to follow COVID safety protocols and still get some much needed fresh air and exercise, but it’s important that Coloradans continue to recreate responsibly. The State is also sharing information for those partaking in backcountry activities; there have been 132 avalanches since Friday, 49 of which were triggered by people using Colorado’s backcountry. Tragically, this past weekend there were three fatalities and nine people caught in slides. Visit http://colorado.com/winterbackcountrysafety for tips, a directory of backcountry guides & trainings and to take the backcountry winter safety pledge.
View a video of the event here.