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Boulder city councilwoman calls on governor to reinstate statewide mask mandate

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Posted at 4:40 PM, Oct 29, 2021

BOULDER, Colo. — A Boulder city councilwoman is asking Gov. Jared Polis to reinstate a statewide mask mandate as Colorado hospitals continue to struggle with intensive care bed space.

"I would just kindly asked Gov. Polis to remember our frontline health care workers," Councilwoman Rachel Friend said. "Instituting a statewide mask mandate really will help to safekeep all of us, so please, Gov. Polis, consider doing that."

On Thursday, Polis laid out several measure the state is planning to take should intensive care unit capacity continue to be an issue across the state. Currently, about 93% of Colorado's ICU beds are occupied. Asking the federal government for medical surge teams, halting elective surgeries and reactivating crisis standards of care are among the steps Polis said he's ready to take.

"You should probably expect some of these to be implemented within the next few days or weeks if we retain these high levels of hospitalizations," Polis said.

He did not indicate any possibility of reinstating mask mandates.

In the meantime, five counties, including Boulder, have reinstated masking indoors, despite vaccination status.

While opinions have varied about going back in time to mask mandates, Friend says health care workers are under the gun, once again caring for mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. According to data from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, 78% of the people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

"They're pretty worn out, and they're working extra hours, and it's hard to fill shifts in the emergency room," Friend said.

Even harder, perhaps when the state starts looking like a patchwork of counties, with and without the mandates, that could bring COVID-19 numbers back down.

"COVID doesn't cleanly stop at county or city borders, which is why it's helpful to have a statewide mask mandate," Friend said.

Denver7 has reached out to the governor's office regarding whether any consideration is being given to reinstating a mask mandate should hospital capacity remain an issue. Polis' office has not responded yet.

Though Boulder reinstated its mask mandate on Sept. 3, Boulder County Public Health says the county has seen a "recent substantial increase in COVID-19 cases" as well as a high transmission rate throughout the past month. In three days, Boulder County has seen their case rate jump from 127.5 to 177 cases per 100,000.