By Sienna Latham

The novel Coronavirus has changed our world in many ways, and more change is about to come. President Joe Biden has just announced that a new vaccine mandate for all federal workers, contractors, and large companies will be taken into effect shortly. This new mandate requires businesses to require either vaccines or regular testing for employees (CBS News,2021). So, what does President Bidens new announcement mean for the citizens of Colorado Springs? How will this change affect the people, and could it exacerbate the other issues coronavirus and its handling have already caused?

Many Coloradoans, like the rest of the country, have mixed emotions when it comes to the new mandate. However, a majority of those who were interviewed felt as though the mandate placed by President Biden was necessary and fair, due to the fact that our state hospitals arereaching such dangerous levels of capacity. The ICU hospital beds are currently reaching a 12% availability rate and are on track to continue filling up through the winter months (Shinn, 2021). Aliyah Latham is one such Colorado resident who does think it is fair, for business and Biden to implement. They are private entities. So, they get to decide what qualifies someone to work in the company, just like they have done with tattoo or piercing requirements at work (Latham,2021). Jane Balliol is another Colorado resident who has taken a different stance on the issue saying that “while it is unfortunate that ICU beds are so full, I personally don’t agree with businesses or the President mandating what people should or should not do for health. I think it should be up to the individual how they want to handle this virus (Balliol, 2021). While Balliol was in the minority opinion of those interviewed, these responses highlight just how different many residents feel on the issue.

Another issue that residents based a lot of saliency on, was how effective, or lack thereof,was The Cares Act on aiding the people of Colorado to stay as stable as possible during these times (US Treasury Data, 2021). This question was proposed to residents, did you find the aid given from the Cares Act, i.e., stimulus checks, enough to curve the effects of the COVID shut down in March 2020 on a household, or do you believe more should have been done? All of the residents interviewed had a similar outlook to the question, which was while they found the stimulus checks helpful, they were not enough to allow people to really stay home and care for themselves and their families during the mandatory shut down. Seventy-five percent of those interviewed felt as though the federal government or state government should have done more to help the people. This lack of aid is evident when looking at the fact that since the March 2020 lockdown an average of 1 in 3 Coloradoans are facing food insecurity while 1 in 5 have had to cut or skip meals due to lack of resources (Hunger Free Colorado, 2021).

Colorado residents have voiced their opinion and need for government intervention. Coloradoans want to try and get back to what shred of normalcy there is, but are in need of help to restabilize themselves after the devastation Coronavirus has caused; These firsthand accounts and statistics just reflect that need on a more personal level.

References

Balliol, Jane. Interviewed by author, Colorado Springs, November 5th, 2021

CBS News. “Biden Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates That Will Affect 100 Million Americans.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 10 Sept. 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/live-updates/biden-covid-19-vaccine-mandates-announcement/.

El Paso County Public Health. “Public Health Data and Analytics.” Public Health Data and Analytics | El Paso County Public Health,https://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/covid19data-dashboard.

Hunger Free Colorado. “Covid Food Insecurity Survey.” Hunger Free Colorado, 28 June 2021, https://hungerfreecolorado.org/partner-with-us/initiatives/covid-food-insecurity-survey/.

Latham, Aliyah. Interviewed by author, Colorado Springs, November 5th, 2021.

Mata, Larry. Interviewed by author, Colorado Springs, November 6th, 2021.

Shinn, Mary. “El Paso County Hospital Capacity Concerns Possible in the near Future.” Colorado Springs Gazette, 29 Sept. 2021, https://gazette.com/news/el-paso-county-hospital-capacity-concerns-possible-in-the-near-future/article_67dca042-0130-11ec-94fd-fbe70f16c6ae.html.

U.S Treasury Data Lab. “Federal Response to Covid-19: U.S. Treasury Data Lab.” Federal Response to COVID-19 | U.S. Treasury Data Lab, https://datalab.usaspending.gov/federal-covid-funding/.