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Jeffco Board of Health considering new indoor mask mandate

The COVID-19 surge is "creating serious challenges" for hospitals and could risk the state's economic recovery and in-person learning at schools, the board said.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The Jefferson County Public Health Department (JCPH) is considering a new county mask mandate and sent a letter to Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday asking for an executive order for face coverings statewide.

The Jeffco Board of Health will hold a public hearing at its meeting on Monday on the possibility of new "viral mitigation strategies, including a universal mask mandate," according to a JCPH spokesperson.

The draft for a mandate, which would apply to indoor public spaces, will be posted online before the meeting, which will be virtual and will start at 11 a.m. Monday, the spokesperson said.

The Board of Health also sent a letter to Polis on Thursday stressing the need for statewide action amid a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations. The letter asked the governor to implement a temporary executive order requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces and to discuss new ways to increase the state's vaccination rate.

Click here to read the letter from JCPH to Polis.

"Masking has been shown to be an effective measure to curb the spread of COVID-19/Delta Variant," according to the letter. "This is extremely important given the upcoming holiday seasons where both local and out of state families and friends will gather for indoor activities." 

The letter says the current COVID-19 surge could threaten the state's economic recovery and in-person learning in schools, puts vulnerable people at risk, and continues to stress "crippled health care systems."

In Jefferson County, 102 residents are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, and 16 county residents have died from COVID since Nov. 8, JCPH said in a news release Thursday.

"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 Board of Health, in the release.

"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," Deranleau said.

On Wednesday, the state's COVID-19 incident commander, Scott Bookman, said the trajectory of hospitalizations puts the state in a "precarious position."

RELATED: State in 'precarious position' as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue upward trend

In Colorado, more than 9,000 people have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according data released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

The state's seven-day positivity rate was 9.75% on Thursday, with 2,686 new cases and 186 new hospitalizations. Of those who are hospitalized, 82% are unvaccinated, according to CDPHE data.

RELATED: Federal team supporting Fort Collins hospital amid COVID-19 surge

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