DENVER (KDVR) – Across Colorado different cities and counties have been requiring masks to be worn in public for several months, but for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began Gov. Jared Polis announced an executive order for a statewide requirement.
The mandate, which is for people 10 years old and older, goes into effect at midnight on July 16. The order, as it currently stands, will expire in 30 days but could be extended.
“We have a choice in Colorado: either more mask wearing and more attention to social distancing or more damage to our economy and loss of life. That’s an easy decision to make,” Polis said.
Polis said the the executive order makes not wearing a mask inside a business a trespassing violation, similar to not wearing clothes.
Polis also announced other actions being taken to help get control and prevent rapid spread including a pause in issuing variances for the next two weeks and asking this with approved variances to consider taking a step back.
A question was asked to Polis, as well as Denver Mayor Michael Hancock who was in attendance at the news conference with Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, about closing businesses again.
“It would have to get tragically bad for us to have to reinstate stay-at-home orders,” Hancock said.
This afternoon, the Colorado Hospital Association issued a statement supporting a statewide mandate.
“Colorado Hospital Association and our member hospitals and health systems across the state are supportive of a statewide mask mandate,” said Chris Tholen, CHA president and CEO. “Our hospitals have worked closely with their local governments, Gov. Polis and his administration throughout our state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we know this step will be important to ensure that we are doing everything possible to set Colorado on the right trajectory.
“We have learned many things about this virus during the course of this pandemic,” said Darlene Tad-y, MD, CHA vice president of clinical affairs. “We know that wearing a facial covering when in public – along with social distancing, proper hand hygiene and staying home when you have symptoms – is necessary. Our health care employees across the state are working around the clock to provide care for our COVID-19 patients and ensure that our health care system is ready for whatever may still be coming with this virus as we move into the fall. We are grateful to Coloradans for everything they have already done to slow the spread of this dangerous virus, and we know that a mask mandate will make a positive difference.”
As recently as Tuesday, Polis had said that he wasn’t making masks a statewide requirement because it wasn’t possible for state police to or other agencies to enforce it.
More than half of the states in the U.S. require residents to wear masks in public including, California, Nevada, Kansas and New Mexico.
During the same news conference, Gov. Polis announced that the state has enough medical-grade masks to help meet the needs of school districts. This includes providing one mask per student-facing school employee per week.