DENVER — Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases, the City of Denver on Tuesday extended its mask order for public indoor spaces through Feb. 3.
It's part of a regional effort with neighboring counties – including Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, Adams and Arapahoe counties – to keep or extend their public health orders requiring face coverings in indoor public settings.
The Denver public health order went into effect in November and was previously set to expire Jan. 3, but the city extended the order due to "rising cases of COVID-19 and the emergence of the omicron variant in Colorado," according to a news release.
"In November, Denver and much of the metro area took the necessary steps to curb the rising spread of COVID-19 and reduce the dangerous pressure on our hospital systems. Our efforts were not in vain," Mayor Michael Hancock said in the release. "As the Omicron variant continues to spread during this holiday season, and hospital capacity remains strained, we simply cannot afford to let up now."
The public health order requires face coverings in Denver for everyone age 2 and older in all public indoor spaces. Under the order, if a business or venue can verify that at least 95% of people in the facility are fully vaccinated, then face coverings aren't required.
The order's extension was done in cooperation with the Metro Denver Partnership for Health (MDPH), which includes all counties in the metro Denver area except for Douglas County.
"Last month's COVID-19 surge was reduced because people in our communities wore masks and got vaccinated, including booster doses," said Dawn Comstock, executive director of Jefferson County Public Health, in a release. "Continuing these strategies will save lives as we experience the rapid growth of the omicron variant as well as increasing influenza cases. We cannot become complacent."
As of Tuesday, there were 119 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Denver, according to the city Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE).
The state's seven-day positivity rate is 12.58%, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“We must continue to stay the course on science-based control measures like face coverings to ensure hospital beds are available for anyone in need,” said Bob McDonald, executive director of DDPHE in the release. “While face coverings are a tool to help manage this wave of the virus, vaccines are ultimately our way out of the pandemic. The emergence of a new variant underscores the importance of not only getting the COVID-19 vaccine but getting a booster dose as well.”
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