Tri-County Health amends mask order to apply to indoors only, adds expiration date

Mask order now to remain in place until June 30 rather than `for the duration of pandemic'


The local public health agency for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties amended its mask-wearing order to remove the requirement that masks be worn in outdoor public spaces, the agency announced in an April 5 news release.

The Tri-County Health Department also announced the order is expected to remain in place until June 30, adding what may be a definite end to the requirement. Previously, the agency had extended its order "for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to an Oct. 20 news release.

“Until every person has had the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine, many in our communities remain at risk for serious illness from this virus,” John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County Health, said in the April 5 news release. “By continuing to wear face coverings, we can protect our friends and loved ones and minimize the impact that outbreaks have on our schools and businesses.”

Gov. Jared Polis in early April extended the state's mask-wearing order for another 30 days, but Tri-County Health's order would apply for longer than that if Polis allows the state order to expire first.

According to an estimation by the Colorado School of Public Health in the last week of March, roughly 27% of Coloradans are currently immune to COVID-19 “due to vaccination and/or prior infection,” the news release said.

“While about 68% of Coloradans age 65 years and older are estimated to be immune and hospitalizations of older adults has declined, modeling suggests that continuing to maintain prevention behaviors such as wearing face coverings when in public spaces can prevent large numbers of deaths and hospitalizations,” the news release said. “Mask-wearing will be especially important as our businesses are allowed to more fully re-open over the next six weeks.”

Who is exempt?

Tri-County Health's order requires that people older than 10 must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth in any public indoor space. Now, the requirement for use of face coverings outdoors within 6 feet of another person has been removed.

To avoid confusion, Tri-County amended its mask order in July to mostly align with the statewide mask order.

View a list of exemptions to Tri-County's order on page 3 here.

Face coverings should be worn regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status except in situations exempted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the order says. Read about masks and vaccination on the CDC's website here.

“We are still learning more about the question of whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus to others,” Douglas, the health chief, said in the news release. “So, for now, it's important to wear a mask and keep a safe distance to stop further spread.”

The CDC has found that mask mandates may reduce communitywide COVID-19 transmission and hospitalizations due to COVID-19, the news release said.

Recent changes to state order

In July of last year, Polis signed Colorado's statewide mask order generally requiring masks to be worn in all public indoor spaces. The governor has extended the order every 30 days since then.

Effective April 3, the statewide order's requirements changed for counties in level green on the state's color-coded COVID-19 dial. Many of Colorado's rural areas were in level green as of early April.

The state's dial is the set of restrictions counties must follow based on the local spread of the virus. The system affects capacity at restaurants, other businesses, indoor and outdoor events, and other settings.

The updated state mask order established that the list of settings where masks are required in level green counties now only includes preschool through grade 12 schools, child care centers, health care settings, personal services such as hair and nail salons, and some others. In other words, many types of businesses — including grocery and retail stores, and others — are no longer included in the list of settings that require masks in level green. It remained to be seen how often businesses might decide to enforce their own mask requirements.

Tri-County Health's order requires masks in all public indoor spaces, regardless of the level of a county on the state's dial, according to the news release.

Tri County Health, mask order, extend, indoor, COVID-19, Colorado, Ellis Arnold


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