Colorado reviewing new CDC mask guidance; updated state guidance could be coming soon

Shopping masks
Posted at 3:21 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 00:28:27-04

DENVER — A change to Colorado's mask mandate could be coming soon, a spokesperson for the governor said, as health officials are reviewing the Thursday announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask in any setting.

"We will be updating our mask order to follow CDC guidance shortly," Elizabeth Kosar, a spokesperson for Gov. Jared Polis, said late Thursday afternoon.

Earlier Thursday, neither Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, or Dr. Eric France, the chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said Colorado has plans to immediately adopt a mask mandate in line with the CDC's guidance. Masks are still mostly required in Colorado in public indoor settings, unless there are less than 10 people in the room or at least 80% are vaccinated.

The health officials on Thursday said Colorado could have modified guidance, based on the CDC's recommendations, in the coming days.

"I think being free to come in here without a mask just will make people feel comfortable being in public," said Doniece Derani, owner of the Gypsy House Cafe.

Derani's coffee shop located on South Broadway had to close down twice during the previous year's public health orders. She said the potential for Coloradans to soon live with fewer restrictions, gives her hope for the feeling of community to be restored.

"People can see each others faces and not have that shield," Derani said.

Colorado health officials emphasized that the CDC guidance applies to fully vaccinated Americans — meaning those who have received their second dose and waited two weeks, or waited two weeks after receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

France said every Coloradan "should assess their level of comfort vs. risk" when it comes to wearing mask, despite updated guidance on the state and national level.

"Those who are unvaccinated should consider ... where their risks potentially are," France said.

Aside from the CDC guidance, two other developments have marked encouraging news in Colorado. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have dipped in recent days, and vaccine eligibility has been expanded to children ages 12-15. In recent weeks, the highest case rates in Colorado have been among children ages 11-17.

Herlihy said Colorado's case numbers are "overall an improving picture."

Colorado's seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases has declined from around 1,600 in late April to around 1,000 cases by this week. Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate dipped below 5% this week. Hospital admissions for COVID-19 have also dropped sharply in May, from 753 the week of May 2 to 306 last week.