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Colorado will update mask order to follow CDC guidance, governor's office says

Health officials said they did not have a chance to review the CDC revision earlier on Thursday removing most indoor mask requirements for fully-vaccinated people.

DENVER — A spokesperson with the office of Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) said the state will soon be updating its mask order to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. 

In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, the CDC eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and inside in most situations.

The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues — even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

It's not clear exactly when Colorado's statewide order will be updated.

RELATED: CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Health officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said during their weekly call on Thursday they had not yet taken time to go over the revision by the CDC.

"We haven't had a chance really to review it," CDPHE Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France said. "The state in general will be reviewing this and looking at how this impacts our own mask guidelines, but it's too early to say anything just yet."

France also said that the Pfizer vaccine should soon be widely available for children ages 12 through 15 following an amendment to the Federal Drug Administration's Emergency Use Authorization this week.

Denver health officials are also waiting for more information. A spokesperson for Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment shared this by email Thursday night

"Currently, Denver evaluating the CDC guidance and will consider whether adjustments should be made to Denver’s face covering order. We will wait for guidance and any changes that the State makes, as well as coordinate with our regional partners to ensure as much alignment as possible."

>> Watch the video below: 9NEWS health expert talks about the new CDC mask guidelines

Meanwhile, businesses are also waiting for more guidance.

Sonia Riggs, President and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association said looser mask restrictions bring good news, and a signal that the industry is getting closer to normalcy.

However, she said it's difficult for businesses, like restaurants, to be responsible for confirming a customer's vaccination status and then enforce whatever rules are currently tied to that status.

"I don’t think restaurant workers were ever equipped to be enforcement of the law," she said. "So it puts us in a really difficult situation, especially when you’ve got a young server trying to tell an angry customer when they can and can't wear a mask. When they must wear it and when they can take it off," 

She added,

"You [still] have significant portion of Colorado not vaccinated, that’s also going to cause strife between those that are and are not vaccinated. And that adds a whole other layer for restaurant employees that are getting stuck in the middle of this."

Riggs said restaurants want to make guests comfortable. She said asking for or proving vaccination status, especially when the customer cannot or will not get the vaccine, puts the industry in an awkward spot.

"It would be much better if [guidance] was consistent around us. What's happening is the CDC gives guidance, then it's up to cities and states to give us clear mandates as to how we should interpret that guidance," she said. "So coming up with clear guidance is a step in the right direction for us. That being said, it'd be much easier for people – if whatever we came up with – was uniform for everybody and that restaurants weren’t put into a situation where they're in conflict with those they’re trying to welcome, feels safe and comfortable in their own restaurant."

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, CDPHE state epidemiologist, said there has been a clear decline in cases in the state over the last two weeks, and that it appears to be declining in all age groups.

Children in the middle and high school age range continue to have the highest case rate per 100,000 residents, followed by adults and then younger children, Herlihy said.

She also said that hospitalizations appear to be trending down over the past few days, while noting that this trend lags behind cases by about a week or two.

RELATED: WATCH LIVE: Biden discusses CDC guidance easing indoor mask use for fully vaccinated

RELATED: Pfizer vaccine likely available for children ages 12 to 15 this weekend in Colorado

The Pfizer vaccine could be available to those as young as 12-years-old by this weekend, according to Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) who made that announcement during an update on the state's response to the pandemic Tuesday afternoon.

That news is welcome as state leaders said the highest growing case rates are among that age group.

"Youth are currently accounting for more new cases in the state as many older Coloradans have already taken the opportunity to receive the vaccine," said Herlihy. "In fact, our highest case rates are currently among middle school and high school students in the state."

She said they hope to slow that rate before the new school year in the fall.

>> Video below: CDC announces fully vaccinated do not need mask in most situations 

RELATED: CDC accepts US advisers' endorsement of Pfizer COVID shot for kids 12 and up

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