Rapid Response: Hickenlooper failed to prepare Colorado for a pandemic

October 6, 2020

In his eight years as governor, John Hickenlooper failed to take steps that would have better prepared Colorado for COVID-19 and mitigated the “chaos” and “crisis-level shortage” of supplies that the state faced. Despite signing a crisis preparedness plan, Hickenlooper ignored warning signs and failed to take actions that other governors and his own successor took that better prepared their states for a pandemic. 
The Facts

  • Unlike Governors in California, New York, Ohio, Alaska, and several other states, Governor Hickenlooper never led an effort to stockpile ventilators and PPE in the event of a pandemic.
  • As a result, Colorado faced a “Crisis-Level Shortage” of PPE and ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • In March, Governor Polis wrote that Colorado was experiencing a “dire shortage” of PPE and ventilators and “a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies.”  
  • Governor Hickenlooper signed a crisis plan that acknowledged there is “an ethical duty to maximize preparedness efforts” to “minimize the scarcity of resources” during an emergency, and his plan even cited the unavailability of critical resources like ventilators. 
  • But under Hickenlooper, the state “never before had bought these supplies in bulk” – meaning masks, gowns, gloves, and other hospital supplies. 
  • Additionally, the state’s educational system was left defenseless when switching to remote learning after Hickenlooper consistently cut education funding and left more than 60,000 students without access to reliable internet services.

Bottom line: Governor Hickenlooper’s failed leadership left Coloradans woefully unprepared for COVID-19.