Jimmy’s Colorado Politics Column | End to COVID mandates was overdue

Written by on May 18, 2021

It happened.  It finally, actually happened.  On Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis and Denver-Metro counties abided by my March 23 column, restored local COVID control and eliminated the mask mandates.  Whoa!

Okay, so maybe I’m imagining that they actually listened to me, but they still did it.  While I concede I’m somewhat pleasantly surprised that Polis followed through on his pledge to let local communities take charge for the first time in over a year, and even more so that local counties and the Tri-County Health Department are loosening their grips, I’m not impressed. 

To put it bluntly, it’s about damn time.

As much as one might feel inclined to extend great gratitude and considerable credit for this renewed freedom just in time for summer, it’s important that we keep several things in perspective.  We didn’t need to do it this way, and it’s gone on for too long.

Yes, we are much better off now relative to other Democrat-run states because most restrictions have been lifted, enabling Coloradans to live our lives again with little government impediment.  I would rather live here than in Fauci-land or in Cuomo’s Empire State.  We are not forced to get vaccinations in order to live our daily lives; capacity limits are largely lifted; and most businesses finally can decide for themselves whether to ask customers to wear masks or not just as they were in the beginning.

Yet we must bear in mind that these benefits are all relative when compared to the more brutal regimes of New York, California and Washington, D.C.  (Although we should never forget that our state was forced to endure a second, cruel lockdown-lite in the fall and winter, tearing into the holidays with unjust abandon.  This set back our state’s economy and recovery potential dramatically and crushed an untold number of souls.)

One cannot help but wonder how much of this development has to do with the All-Star Game coming here in July, incentivizing a big push to “return to normal,” and how likely they are to switch back once the game is over?  How much is it a realization — finally — that Polis’s policies have inflicted painful, long-term, lasting damage?  Have they finally accepted that the jig is up and We the People wouldn’t stand for it any longer?

Indeed, while the death count of COVID-19 is heartbreaking, the toll inflicted by government is itself breathtaking.  Thanks to uncaring teachers unions and cost-cutting administrators, countless young students have been unnecessarily and unceremoniously left behind because of school closures.  Their educational achievement will be dramatically set back.  For some children, physical and emotional abuse at home wasn’t caught.

For many kids, teens and adults alike, their mental health has been shattered.  It will take some time to put back the pieces — especially for those who lost loved ones to suicide.  Take it from someone who sought treatment for clinical anxiety and depression — both therapy and medication — for seven years: These mental health crises don’t go away overnight.  They take time and careful attention.

How many families, after scrimping and saving every penny for years, lost their businesses because they were forced to shut down?  How many families are on the verge of eviction after the false sense of security offered by unconstitutional eviction moratorium?

Rightly or wrongly, how many Coloradans have irrevocably lost faith in their elected officials, public health bureaucrats, the scientific establishment, public schools and others we once looked to for guidance and reassurance?  Such trust is not easily rebuilt after the rules and goalposts kept changing for over a year, when our leaders seemed not to care about the real-world consequences of their actions?

Despite this widespread loss of confidence — a chasm which predated the pandemic but has grown evermore during it — the precedent may have been set.  Elected politicians and unelected bureaucrats now have a better idea of what they can get away and for how long.  Sure, they’ll point to The End that came to their COVID-19 pandemic policies: After more than a year, they released the boot.  “See?  Ye of little faith!  You doubted that we would relinquish our power — but we did.  You can trust us this time.  We’ll only take it so far.”

When the next crisis comes, will we endure another round of slow heat, like the proverbial boiling frog?  Will we thank them now and let them get away with it next time, or will we now proclaim the raven’s call — “Nevermore!” — and hold their feet to the fire? 

No, Jared Polis and the state legislature that refused to rein in his unilateral authority do not deserve our gratitude because they’re better than other Democrats.  County health departments such as Denver’s and Tri-County Health do not deserve our congratulations.  They deserve to hear the sounds of our exhausted and eager gasps for the air we are finally able to breath. 

Our leaders are merely doing — at long last — what they should have done many months ago.

Click here to read the rest of Jimmy’s May 18 column at Colorado Politics, a sister publication of The Washington Examiner.

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