Tri-County Health issues mandatory mask order
The Tri-County Health Department has formally issued a coronavirus mask order for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties that will go into effect July 24.
Individual communities can opt out of the mandate, as Douglas County says it plans to do after an uproar over the order.
The Tri-County Health Department directive will require people to wear facial coverings when they’re in public outdoors and can’t maintain 6 feet of distancing as well as indoors in places where members of the public can enter. That would also apply when using public transportation, receiving health care services, in restaurants (when not eating) and businesses, and when working and interacting with others.
If a person refuses to wear a mask, a business can deny that person entry. There are exceptions to the mask-wearing, including for people with medical conditions or for other physical limitations.
“The goal of this Order shall be to control and reduce the spread of COVID-19, to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, and to maintain consistent healthcare capacity in TCHD’s jurisdiction,” the mandate states.
There have been 11,665 recorded positive cases in Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties with 557 deaths, as of Thursday.
Although Tri-County Health Director John Douglas had recommended that Douglas County and its municipalities be able to opt-in to the Tri-County mask order if they chose to, the board decided to include Douglas County in the order.
In addition to opting out, the county’s commissioners also plan to withdraw from the public health department and create their own.
This is not the first time Douglas County has sparred with the health department over its public health orders amid the pandemic. In March, state lawmakers representing Douglas County urged commissioners to leave the health department over its decision to issue a stay-at-home order, which the governor later issued for the entire state.
Individual jurisdictions have been implementing mask orders across the state as confirmed cases of the coronavirus remain elevated and hospitalizations increase.
Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday said about half of Colorado has a mask order in place. Though he said not enough people are wearing the masks to protect against the spread of COVID-19, he was reluctant to pass a statewide order.
Some public health departments have said they prefer a statewide order to remove confusion across various parts of the state and to eliminate issues such as those that played out in Douglas County where elected officials questioned decisions made by an unelected body.
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