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Colorado's governor, who is Jewish, gives emotional response after Republican leader compares stay-at-home orders to Nazism

Colorado Governor Jared Polis had a powerful response when he was asked about a Republican leader's comparison of stay-at-home orders to Nazism. During a press briefing Wednesday, a reporter asked Polis, who is Jewish, about criticism toward the stay-at-home orders put in place to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"We're seeing a lot of rebellion out here against your orders, which have been called tyrannical against local health department orders, being equated to Nazism. How do you react to that, what do you say to those people who are clearly getting frustrated with this stay-at-home order?" the reporter asked.

"Well, first of all, as a Jewish American who lost family in the Holocaust, I'm offended by any comparison to Nazism," Polis said. He then became visibly choked up. "We act to save lives — 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."

Almost every state and many local communities have issued stay-at-home orders which limit people to only going out for essentials like groceries or medicine. 

"We know that these steps are difficult, and it's not a contest to see what you can get away with. It's a contest to see how well you can stay at home," Polis said. 

"By not staying at home, by having parties, by congregating, you're not sticking it to the government. You're not sticking it to Jared Polis. You're sticking it to yourself, because you're putting yourself and your loved ones in jeopardy, and you're prolonging the economic pain and difficulties that your fellow Coloradans face," the governor continued. 

"Now's a time for us to act with unity, to act together, to do the best we can to stay at home except when absolutely necessary, so that we can open up sooner rather than later, so that we can have more freedom quicker rather than later."

Polis' answer received widespread praise online, where the press briefing was streamed on many platforms, including Facebook. "Governor, you handled that ridiculous Nazi question beautifully. Thank you for your emotional response," one person commented. "Isolation is serving a purpose. That matters, because lives matter. Thank you Governor," another wrote."Governor Polis, Fantastic answer and I'm sorry you choked up over that racist questions," another comment read.

In March, Colorado's House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, a Republican, likened the stay-at-home order to Nazism during a radio interview, saying it was leading to "a Gestapo-like mentality," the Denver Post reports. At that time, a regional stay-at-home order was implemented by the Tri-County Health Department in the Denver area, and Neville was among several Republican state legislators who wanted to cut ties with the agency. 

Many Republicans also signed a letter denouncing Polis' statewide stay-at-home order, which went into effect on March 26. CBS News has reached out to Neville for comment and is awaiting response. 

The state's stay-at-home order is currently scheduled to be lifted on April 26, CBS Denver reports.

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