DENVER — Mayor Michael Hancock (D-Denver) announced Monday all city and county employees, along with private-sector employees in high-risk settings, will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sep. 30.
The order applies to the city's municipal workforce of more than 10,000 employees including police officers, firefighters, and sheriff’s deputies. It also applies to the workers in congregate-care settings including the following:
- Nursing homes
- Shelters for people experiencing homelessness
- Correctional facilities
- Teachers and staff in schools and post-secondary institutions
“Denver is now experiencing the most infectious strain of the virus – the delta variant, which is responsible for 90% of new cases statewide,” Hancock said. “To achieve the highest level of protection and recovery from the pandemic, especially among high-risk and vulnerable groups, we need to maximize vaccinations as quickly as possible, and mandates will do just that.”
The rate of infection and positivity remain low in Denver, but Hancock said key metrics have increased recently:
- Average daily infection rate has increased from an average of 15 in mid-June to 70
- Average daily positivity rate increased from 1% in mid-June to above 3%.
- Hospitalizations and deaths are beginning to increase
“The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) has continuously monitored available data to ensure our guidance is based on science and sound public health principles,” said Executive Director Bob McDonald. “Given what we know today, I strongly believe that controlling the spread of the virus and its variants through timely and thoughtful mandated vaccinations, especially as we enter the colder fall and winter months, is necessary. By further increasing the number of vaccinated residents, we’re able to protect children and those who can’t get vaccinated, limit hospitalizations and ultimately save lives.”
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.
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.
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