ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colorado — For weeks now the message has been clear: wear a mask.
It turns out Coloradans are listening and health officials are watching to make sure.
If you’ve noticed more people wearing masks at stores and businesses, you’re not alone. Health departments across the state are beginning to keep track of how many people are wearing masks while going out, and the results are encouraging.
Standing outside popular businesses around the state, health officials have an eye on who’s wearing a mask and who isn’t.
Since April the Tri-County Health Department has been keeping track of how many people have been covering their faces.
Back in May and June the number hovered around 60 to 80 percent. Now the health department is reporting more than 90 percent of people in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties are wearing masks.
"I think the numbers looks fantastic," said Tri-County Public Health's Environmental Health Division Director at Brian Hlavacek. "It’s pretty simple, but I think it’s pretty powerful."
The department is the first in the state to have volunteers and employees tally up how many people they see wearing masks. From there, the data helps them make more informed decisions on how to proceed in battling the pandemic.
"To really get a good understanding of the landscape out there of who is wearing masks going in and out of stores," said Hlavaeck. "It’s really going to a variety of stores in the community. It could be big box stores like King Soopers or Safeway or Home Depot or even some smaller stores and spending 30 minutes just making observations of people going in and out."
Gunnison County also started doing the masks surveys. The health department there found between 83 and 93 percent of people were wearing masks.
"I think folks are doing a terrific job here. I’m really impressed," said Gunnison County Public Health Director Joni Reynolds. "If we know that folks are wearing a mask, we know that folks are taking measures to protest themselves and protect other people."
If people want to ski and keep businesses open, Reynolds says wearing a mask is a good first step.
"We want folks to come here," said Reynolds. "We want folks to be able to visit our community safely. We want to be able to keep our communities safe and everyone who lives here safe."
Right now the health departments are focused on keeping track of how many people are wearing masks inside businesses. They hope to eventually be able to track how many people wear masks at public events and even out on trails.
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