Colorado’s statewide mask mandate is expected to be altered this weekend.
Gov. Jared Polis indicated during a news briefing Monday that he would prefer within the next couple of weeks to largely hand over mask-wearing requirements to local authorities.
“Really the only types of events that will remain under state guidance will be large-scale events, thousands of people gathered together,” he said. “So what that means is we’re likely to have about a two-week extension of that mask order to get us to that point where we more formally devolve that authority.”
He added that a mask requirement would remain in place for students in school.
The statewide mask mandate, enacted by executive order, first went into effect July 17, and Polis has extended it ever since. It is due to expire after Saturday.
The executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Jill Hunsaker Ryan, told state lawmakers on Monday that the statewide mask mandate could be lifted after Saturday for counties in the green level of the state’s COVID “dial” set of restrictions, according to The Denver Post. Green is the least restrictive of the color-coded levels.
Contacted by Newsline on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the governor said, “The current mask order expires April 3rd. The Governor intends to sign a new 30 day mask order that will be modified to account for where we are in pandemic, the varied cases count by county and the feedback we have received through public comment.”
The state on March 24 enacted lighter COVID restrictions as part of an overhaul of the dial. The changes both made moving between levels on the state’s dial system of restrictions easier for counties and eased the restrictions, such as indoor capacity limits, called for in each level.
New infections in Colorado had been declining steadily since mid-January but leveled off around the first week of March. A similar pattern is seen in hospitalizations. The latest state data indicates 324 confirmed COVID-19 patients are being treated in Colorado hospitals.
On Monday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, responded to rising cases in the United States by warning of “impending doom” and pleading for Americans to continue mask-wearing and social distancing.
“I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, and not only as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer,” Walensky said, according to NBC News.