An expert panel advises Colorado’s governor on coronavirus. But the group often appears left out of big decisions. |

An expert panel advises Colorado’s governor on coronavirus. But the group often appears left out of big decisions.

The Polis administration says the Governor’s Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee is not geared for rapid decision-making

Late last week, a group of some of the state’s foremost experts on how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic settled in behind their computer screens for another virtual meeting.

The Governor’s Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee, known by the acronym GEEERC, is made up of people from the worlds of medicine, public health, government and emergency management. Its task during a pandemic, dictated by a state law dating back to 2000, is to “convene as rapidly and as often as necessary to advise the governor … regarding reasonable and appropriate measures to reduce or prevent spread of the disease.”

But this was the GEEERC’s first meeting in a month, and the agenda was rather sparse — a presentation on the latest epidemiological data, an update on vaccine distribution, some standard training. At a time when Gov. Jared Polis is loosening restrictions across the state, changing the state’s COVID-19 “dial” framework, working rapidly to get vaccines into arms and closely monitoring the spread of potentially worrisome new coronavirus variants, there were no major items for the committee to vote or provide counsel on.

And, to some observers, that’s troubling.

“I just don’t understand it,” state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, a Republican from Weld County, said in an interview. “It’s there. It’s not that difficult to do. These people are experts. This is what they live to do.”

When Kirkmeyer served in former Gov. Bill Owens’ administration, she used to sit on the GEEERC. (The acronym’s pronunciation rhymes with “perk.”) Now a state lawmaker, Kirkmeyer last month peppered Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment executive director Jill Hunsaker Ryan with questions during a legislative hearing about why the GEEERC was not meeting more frequently or giving guidance on higher-profile issues.

To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.

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