DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis said on Tuesday that he is not considering a statewide order related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as several counties in the Denver metro area are enacting mask mandates ahead of the holiday season.
The governor said that during a news conference in which he also encouraged Coloradans to get vaccinated and to celebrate Thanksgiving in a way that minimizes risk to people who aren't vaccinated.
When asked about mask mandates, Polis said he supports cities and counties in whatever actions they take that are appropriate for their communities.
"We’ve taken a line here where we are supportive of our local communities in recognition that we have a very diverse state," Polis said.
In the Denver metro area, Denver, Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties will require masks in most indoor public spaces starting Wednesday as part of a regional effort. Boulder and Larimer counties already have mask mandates in place. Douglas and Broomfield counties are not requiring masks in indoor public spaces.
"What’s important here is that it’s an opportunity for people to reflect their values in their local leadership," Polis said. "I have great respect for the decisions local leadership make."
As of Monday, 95% of the state's ICU beds were in use, and more than 1,500 patients were hospitalized for COVID, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Of those who were hospitalized, 83% were unvaccinated, CDPHE data show.
In Colorado, 73.12% of eligible people are fully vaccinated against the virus, according to CDPHE. Last week, CDPHE officials said the state was in a "precarious position" and that COVID hospitalizations could exceed hospital bed capacity by the end of December.
Polis encouraged those who haven't yet gotten a COVID-19 vaccine or booster to do so, saying "If everyone was vaccinated, no one would be wearing masks. We would be out of this pandemic."
Two days before Thanksgiving, he asked that people who are sick or have COVID symptoms to get tested or opt out of gatherings to protect family and friends who aren't vaccinated.
"COVID is not a gift you want to give your loved ones this holiday season," he said.
Those who are vaccinated are less at risk of death from COVID than those who aren't, which reduces COVID to the risk level of other viruses like the flu, he said.
He still encouraged mask wearing in public settings to help protect people who are unvaccinated.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced an indoor mask mandate that will go into effect on Wednesday at a news conference Tuesday morning.
The Tri-County Health Department, which covers Adams and Arapahoe counties, and the Jefferson County Board of Health have voted to re-enact mask mandates for public indoor spaces. Both public health orders go into effect on Wednesday.
Boulder and Larimer counties already have mask mandates, while Broomfield Public Health was considering a mask order in city and county facilities with an opt-out for those who are fully vaccinated.
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