The governor of Colorado teared up briefly on Wednesday when asked about comparisons between his social distancing orders to combat the spread of COVID-19 and Nazi Germany.
“As a Jewish-American who lost family in the Holocaust, I’m offended by any comparison to Nazism,” Polis said, choking up slightly, after a reporter asked about health orders “being equated to Nazism.”
The Denver Post, which reported on Polis’ press conference, noted that late last month the Republican minority leader in the Colorado House of Representatives, Patrick Neville, said Polis’ stay-home order reflected a “Gestapo-like mentality.”
Neville later said, “I should have said authoritarian, not Gestapo.”
Jared Polis is Colorado’s first Jewish governor and the first openly gay man elected governor in U.S. history. Polis lost family members in the Holocaust, which he noted on Thursday.
“We act to save lives,” he said, “the exact opposite of the slaughter of 6 million Jews, and many Gypsies, and Catholics, and gays and lesbians, and Russians and so many others.”
Polis added that Coloradans who ignored the state’s health orders weren’t “sticking it” to him, but rather to themselves and loved ones.
Gov. Polis responds to accusations that his stay-at-home order is akin to Nazism: "As a Jewish-American who lost family in the Holocaust, I'm offended by any comparison to Nazism. We act to save lives; the exact opposite of the slaughter of 6 million …" (Video: @denverchannel) pic.twitter.com/nlUwrYVmJI
— The Denver Post (@denverpost) April 15, 2020
Colorado was home to a number of early COVID-19 outbreaks, particularly among areas in the state’s west where jet-setting skiers from around the world enjoy the Rocky Mountains.
The state has now recorded 8,280 cases of COVID-19, and 1,636 hospitalizations and 357 deaths as a result of the disease.
The sickest area in the state per capita, Eagle County, is home to legendary ski slopes like those at Vail and Beaver Creek. The county currently has 874.9 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, according to the state — more per person than Manhattan.