DENVER (KDVR) — Gov. Jared Polis amended an executive order Friday, to extend the statewide mask mandate, which was set to expire this weekend.
The governor first announced the mask mandate on July 16 in response to a rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state. It was set to last for 30 days unless extended.
Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show the number of hospitalizations has decreased from 275 on July 20 to 170 on August 14. Plus, the testing positivity rate had dropped to 2.88 percent Friday, well below the five percent, that represents a significant spread of the virus.
“It was pretty scary in mid-July,” said Dr. Beth Carlton, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Colorado School of Public Health, who is on the state’s COVID-19 modeling team. “Things were trending upward at a level that surprised many of us. It’s encouraging that we arere not headed in that direction right now.”
Public health experts cannot say for sure how much the mandate, along with social distancing, has helped slow the spread of the virus.
“I think what is really clear from the evidence right now, is that masks help control the spread of COVID-19,” Carlton said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth face coverings are not intended to protect the person wearing the mask, but rather those around them.
“Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when masks are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.,” the CDC says on its website.
Polis’ order requires face coverings to be worn in indoor public places. It applies to people 10 years old and older.
People who cannot medically tolerate a face covering are not required to wear one.
Polis issued the following statement about the extension:
“Our data has shown that mask wearing has contributed to our great success thus far in reducing the spread of the virus and helping more and more of our economy re-open rapidly including our schools. Therefore we expect the mask order to stay in place and support localized efforts to continue mask wearing and raise awareness about the importance of avoiding large groups. Masks and social distancing continue protecting the lives of Coloradans during this pandemic.”