Jefferson, Adams and Arapahoe counties are reinstating their indoor mask orders as high rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue in Colorado.
The Jefferson County Board of Health voted 4-1 Monday to adopt the order, which requires everyone ages 3 and older to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. The new order is set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
Everyone ages 2 and older is required to wear a mask indoors in Adams and Arapahoe counties — also beginning Wednesday — after the Tri-County Health Department voted 5-1 for the indoor mask order.
Denver is expected to announce an indoor mask order Tuesday, according to multiple reports.
Boulder County already requires masks to be worn indoors.
Jeffco public health officials took many public comments Monday before the vote was held. The majority of comments were from residents and local business owners who oppose the indoor mask mandate, and an anti-mask mandate demonstration was held outside the Jeffco Public Health offices.
But in the end, public health officials were more concerned with COVID-19 deaths and hospitals reaching capacity. More than 92 percent of ICU hospital beds are in use in the Denver metro area, public health officials said.
The mask mandates will include some exemptions, including those who have medical conditions or religious rites that prevent them from wearing masks.
The Jefferson County Board of Health is called for a statewide indoor mask mandate last week to combat Colorado’s sustained COVID-19 surge in cases and hospitalizations. The agency sent a letter Thursday to Gov. Jared Polis urging the statewide action.
“The continuing rapid proliferation of COVID-19 and Delta variant cases within our state and county continues to be of grave concern,” said Greg Deranleau, president of the Jefferson County Board of Health, in a news release Thursday.
“Despite extraordinary work from local public health organizations, impressive vaccination uptake and provision of boosters to any adult in the state, Colorado’s hospital capacity has been compromised to the point of medical care rationing. Our number one priority as the Board of Health is to promote and protect the health of our residents, and we will continue to take action to address this surge in Jeffco, but we strongly believe a consistent statewide approach is the best way to reduce the spread of this virus in a meaningful way.”
The Jeffco mask mandate will remain in effect until the county reports fewer than 50 COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 people for three weeks straight, and fewer than 8 percent of tests come out positive.
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