COLORADO, USA — County health departments across the Denver area are recommending, but not requiring, people to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status in accordance with new COVID-19 guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the wake of a rise in cases brought on by the delta variant of the virus.
Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) said in a release that because Jefferson County is in the CDC's "substantial" category for transmission risk, it is strongly recommending that all residents ages 2 and older return to wearing masks in indoor public spaces to "minimize risk and maximize protection from COVID-19."
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“Because vaccine uptake has now stalled and cases of COVID-19 are once again increasing rapidly in Jeffco, and with the Delta variant circulating widely, we all must now take this additional step to protect ourselves and our loved ones, including our children who aren’t yet eligible to get vaccinated,” JCPH Executive Director Dr. Dawn Comstock said in the release. “We know this is discouraging news, especially after months of progress. We don’t want to give up the ground our communities worked so hard to take during this battle against COVID-19. By taking recommended precautions now, we can work to minimize viral transmission to prevent the Delta variant from spreading even further.”
Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties
Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) said in a release it recommends that everyone wear masks in public indoor settings as community transmission rates of COVID-19 rise.
“One thing that we have learned over and over again during the pandemic is to expect the unexpected," TCHD Executive Director Dr. John Douglas said in the release. "Although we think a resumption of wearing masks in schools and public indoor settings can be a useful measure to stem increases in transmission, it’s quite clear that getting vaccinated as soon as possible is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “We are in a race against time to get more people vaccinated before Delta spreads even further or new even more contagious variants emerge.”
The release said all three of the counties TCHD serves, Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas, fall in the "substantial" category as well, with 7-day incidence rates above the 50 per 100,000 residents threshold.
Broomfield Public Health and Environment (BPHE) is also recommending the use of masks in indoor public places, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases that puts Broomfield in the "substantial" category, as well.
“Broomfield has done an outstanding job of getting vaccinated and following public health protections but new data suggests fully vaccinated people who are infected with the delta variant can transmit the virus to other people” BPHE Public Health Director Jason Vahling said. “The single most important step you can take is to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect yourself and the most vulnerable among us.”
The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) said it has reviewed the CDC's new guidance and encourages people and businesses "to make the decision about wearing a face covering that is best for them."
A DDPHE release said Denver's hospitalization rate remains low despite a rise in COVID-19 cases, but its 7-day incidence rate is above the "substantial" threshold.
Despite the protection against severe illness provided by the COVID-19 vaccines, the delta variant has been found to be highly transmissible even among those who have been fully vaccinated. Health officials estimate the variant is more than twice as contagious as previous strains.
Clear Creek County
The Clear Creek County Health Department said on Friday that it was recommending everyone, vaccinated or not, wear a face covering until more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine and case numbers decline.
The health department was working with the county school district to "achieve optimal in-person learning."
“Getting vaccinated as soon as possible is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, said Timothy Ryan, director of the Clear Creek County Health Department, in a news release. “We are in a race against time to get more people vaccinated before new variants emerge.”
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