Fact check: Colorado executive order does not target unvaccinated

·3 min read

The claim: Colorado's governor signed an executive order to turn away unvaccinated people at hospitals

Nearly a year after the first American was vaccinated against COVID-19, about 30% of the country still hasn't received a shot. Posts on social media claim one state's governor is putting his foot down on emergency treatment for the unvaccinated.

"BREAKING REPORT: Colorado Governor Signs Executive Order to TURN AWAY UNVACCINATED FROM HOSPITALS and Prioritize Treatment to Vaccinated Patients," a Nov. 5 Facebook post reads.

The claim was also shared in a Nov. 4 article, which says the executive order "authorizes discrimination against those who are not vaccinated" against COVID-19.

The executive order is real, but it doesn't do what the posts claim it does.

The measure allows Colorado hospitals to deny admission or treatment to patients due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. It does not target unvaccinated people.

Fact check: Vaccines protect against contracting, spreading COVID-19

"The executive order doesn’t even mention or have anything to do with vaccination status," Conor Cahill, a spokesperson for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, told USA TODAY in an email.

USA TODAY reached out to Facebook users who shared the post for comment.

Executive order doesn't target unvaccinated

On Oct. 31, Polis signed an executive order aimed at combating overcrowding in hospitals due to COVID-19.

The order gives the state health department the ability to direct hospitals and freestanding emergency departments to "transfer or cease the admission of patients" in response to the state's rise in cases, regardless of vaccination status.

"The (executive order) authorizes the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment to determine whether a hospital or freestanding emergency department is at, or reasonably anticipated to reach, capacity," Cahill said. "CDPHE is authorized to direct those facilities to transfer patients to prevent overwhelming the capacity of a facility and its staff."

As of Nov. 26, about 70% of inpatient beds were in use in Colorado, based on 105 hospitals reporting data to the U.S. Department Health and Human Services. Nearly 80% of ICU beds – above the national average – were also in use.

Polis's executive order clarifies that all hospitals must still comply with the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. The law says medical facilities must provide stabilizing treatment before transferring patients to another hospital, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

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If the order is not extended, it will expire after 30 days.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Colorado's governor signed an executive order to turn away unvaccinated people at hospitals. The order authorizes the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment to give hospitals and other emergency centers the power to "transfer or cease the admission of patients" due to rising COVID-19 cases in the state. The order does not target unvaccinated people.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Colorado executive order does not target unvaccinated

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