Denver’s mask mandate, which was scheduled to expire on Monday, will be extended through Feb. 3.

New COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly, with about twice as many reported in Denver in the week ending Friday as were in the previous week. The percentage of tests coming back positive has also jumped, indicating that significant numbers of cases are likely going undetected.

A similar pattern is happening statewide as the omicron variant spreads. New COVID-19 hospital admissions have started to rise again, after falling for roughly four weeks.

Denver, Jefferson, Adams and Arapahoe counties announced in late November that they were instating mask mandates in indoor public spaces, while Broomfield said it would only require masks in school, child care facilities and county-run buildings. Boulder County has had a mandate since September.

All opted to extend their mandates, with some differences. Broomfield’s will expire Jan. 31, while Boulder and Jefferson counties pegged theirs to metrics like case counts rather than a date.

Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, said masks are a tool to limit the virus’ transmission, but vaccines are the ultimate solution.

“We must continue to stay the course on science-based control measures like face coverings to ensure hospital beds are available for anyone in need,” he said in a news release. “The emergence of a new variant underscores the importance of not only getting the COVID-19 vaccine but getting a booster dose as well.”

Businesses that don’t want to require masks can opt to only admit vaccinated people. More than 500 offices, gyms and other locations in Denver have attested that they have a plan to ensure 95% of staff and customers in their buildings at any time are fully vaccinated. (The city’s definition of fully vaccinated doesn’t require booster shots.)

Children younger than 2 are exempt from the Denver mandate.

Subscribe to bi-weekly newsletter to get health news sent straight to your inbox.

Source: Read Full Article