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Mask recon: Colorado health departments survey who's wearing masks and who's not

Posted at 6:40 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 07:32:45-04

DENVER — If it feels like someone is watching, you may be right. At a time when mask mandates "push" some people over the edge, some Colorado health officials are doing a type of face covering recon.

"This is not a sign that big brother is watching. We are observing to see if our policies are working," said Jennifer Ludwig, the deputy director of Tri-County Health Department. "We're not tracking individuals. We are not collecting personal info, and we are not following anyone. Just watching to see what is on people's faces and nothing more than that."

Since April, Tri-County Health has been sending volunteers out in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties to sit in their cars outside businesses and restaurants and count people going in, a non-scientific face covering survey.

In July, officials found only 56% of those counted in Adams County were wearing masks, but since the statewide order, the percentage of people covering their faces climbed quickly into the 90s -- even in Douglas County where commissioners opposed the mask mandate.

Boulder County Public Health is also using volunteers to survey mask usage.

"It's no different than looking to see if someone is wearing a seatbelt in a car. It's our job to make sure people are safe," said Chana Goussetis, a spokeswoman with Boulder County Public Health, which just released numbers from August. "Most people are wearing masks. Ninety-five percent of the folks that we see are wearing masks."

While public health officials say it's too soon to say if more masks have meant less coronavirus, "as we've seen case numbers decrease and the mask usage increase, we feel there may be a correlation between the two," Ludwig said.

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