Most Coloradans agree with government leaders who are imposing vaccine mandates and mask mandates to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its Delta variant, according to a survey commissioned by Colorado Politics, the Denver Gazette and 9News.
The SurveyUSA assessment indicated 55% support the public health orders such as those imposed by Gov. Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and other local governments across the state.
Forty percent disagreed, including 78% of those who said they were unvaccinated.
The most commonly cited reason (24%) for being unvaccinated was concern over the safety of the vaccine, while 16% thought the virus was a hoax.
Fifteen percent saw it as a government intrusion into their life, and 11% doubted the scientists.
Those who identified as Democrats overwhelmingly supported mask requirements at 81%, compared to 48% of unaffiliated voters and 26% of Republicans.
The poll suggested 72% of vaccinated Coloradans are concerned their health will be affected by those who are unvaccinated, including 35% who said they were "very concerned."
Those polled this month also shared broad approval of vaccine requirements for health care workers and teachers.
Seventy percent of survey participants said doctors, nurses and other hospital employees should be vaccinated, the same margin who said mandates should apply to those working in nursing homes, while just 22% said vaccinations should not be required in health care settings.
As for private businesses, 50% of those surveyed said employees should be required to be vaccinated, compared to 39% who disagreed.
As for masks in schools, 57% said K-12 teachers should be required to wear masks, while 33% disagreed. Similarly, Coloradans supported a requirement for K-12 students to wear masks, 55% to 37%.
Respondents were split on whether businesses should have the legal right to deny service to those who are unvaccinated — 45% said they should and 44% said they should not.
On Aug. 2, Hancock set a Sept. 30 deadline for all city employees and private-sector workers in high-risk settings to be fully vaccinated.
The mandate applies to more than 10,000 municipal employees, including police officers, firefighters, and sheriff’s deputies. The order also extends to public and private schools, higher education campuses, nursing homes, homeless shelters, hospitals and correctional facilities.
The same week, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced that state employees who cannot show proof of vaccination will have to get tested twice a week and wear masks at work.
Last Friday, Polis went a step farther, backing President Joe Biden’s vaccine-or-testing mandate for large businesses, similar to what he imposed on state workers.
“Some hospitals are reaching very close to their capacity limits and that wouldn't be happening if people were vaccinated,” Polis said. “You have 25% of the population that is 80% of the hospitalizations, and they have worse outcomes, higher death rates, longer hospitals stays.
“I'm strongly encouraging you, if you haven't yet, get vaccinated.”
Boulder County reinstated its indoor mask mandate on Sept. 3, and last Saturday the town of Erie joined an increasing list of municipalities.
“Only second to vaccination, adoption of a universal mask order is an extremely effective tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and minimize disruptive cycles of reactionary orders, and is particularly important for seeing a rapid shift,” Camille Rodriguez, executive director of Boulder County Pubic Health, said in a statement.
Businesses and public venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheater and the Colorado Convention Center require proof of vaccination to enter, following guidance from the state and city health departments.
Republicans see vaccine mandates as an energizing issue for the GOP base heading into next year's mid-terms, when Polis is on the ballot for reelection.
The Colorado survey is in step with the national mood.
A poll last month for the Associated Press and NORC at the University of Chicago.indicated 55% of adults support requiring face masks around other people outside their homes, while just 26% opposed it.
Survey USA contacted a representative sample of 500 Coloradans between Sept. 9 and Sept 13. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.4%.
Read the full survey by clicking here.