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Fact Check-The Governor of Colorado didn’t order hospitals to turn away unvaccinated patients

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Social media users are sharing claims that the Governor of Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis, signed an executive order that allows hospitals to refuse treatment to people who haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to a state spokesperson, however, the executive order on hospital admissions signed by the governor is unrelated to the vaccination status of patients.

The text in one of the tweets reads, “The dem governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, signed an executive order for hospitals & ER’s to prioritize care to the vaccinated and turn away the Un-vaxed!! This cannot be lawful!”(here)

Another post says, “Just in: Colorado Governor mandates that hospitals do NOT have to treat the unvaccinated.” (here)

Social media users are also sharing an article by Becker News (here) which says, “The executive order’s language is clear: It authorizes discrimination against those who are not vaccinated for Covid-19.”

On Oct. 31, 2021, Polis signed executive order D 2021 135 which allows Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to determine when a hospital or emergency department is about to reach capacity. In such cases, the CDPHE can order hospitals or emergency departments to stop admitting patients and transfer them to other facilities. The order, however, does not include an authorization to turn away or refuse to treat unvaccinated patients ( here) .

Elizabeth Kosar, Deputy Press Secretary for the Governor of Colorado, told Reuters via email: “The Executive Order doesn’t even mention or have anything to do with vaccination status.”

Kosar added that the executive order mandates hospitals to comply with the non-waived sections of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, “including the requirements to provide stabilizing treatment within the hospital’s capabilities and capacity prior to the initiation of a transfer to another hospital, and to provide a medical screening examination to any individual who comes to the emergency department and requests examination or treatment.”

The executive order document says that the order is urgent “because statewide hospital capacity is less that 10%” due to an increase of persons seeking medical treatment at hospitals due to COVID-19-related complications.

According to the Reuters’ COVID-19 tracker, for the week ending Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, a rate of 22 per 100k people were hospitalized for COVID-19-related complications, the sixth highest such rate in the country (here).

VERDICT

False. The Governor of Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis, didn’t sign an executive order that allows hospitals to refuse treatment to people who haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine. The executive order authorizes hospitals about to reach capacity to stop admitting patients and transfer them to other facilities. It makes no mention of vaccination status.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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