Tri-County seeks to clear up confusion over mask mandate and timing as numbers of COVID-19 positive cases increase in recent weeks
On July 8, 2020, the Tri-County Health Department’s Board of Health approved a public health order to require face coverings when out in public where social distancing cannot be maintained. The order does not take effect until July 24, 2020, and cities and counties within the TCHD jurisdiction have until July 23, 2020, to opt-out of the order if they do not wish to comply with the mandate.
“The purpose of the two-week time table was to give cities and counties the opportunity to prepare for the implementation of the mandate or opt-out,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department (TCHD). “It was never intended to be a break in the health department’s advisement to wear a mask out in public. We strongly advise with or without a mandate that everyone that can, wear a mask every time they are outside of their home where six feet distance between themselves and others cannot be maintained.”
Additionally, there has been some confusion over the past week about what the TCHD Executive Director John Douglas recommended to the Board of Health. Based on data from states which saw reductions in COVID-19 rates after implementation of mandates, TCHD recommended that all of our counties could benefit from a mandate. However, because local support by elected officials of such a mandate is critical, based on data available last week, we asked that our Board consider the following approach:
- a full mandate in our highest incidence areas (Adams County and Aurora),
- either an “opt-out” or “opt-in” mandate in Arapahoe County which had an intermediate incidence level, and
- an opt-in mandate in Douglas County, which had the lowest level.
Following discussion, the Board voted to allow elected officials and jurisdictions in all three counties to determine the use of the mandate requiring face coverings through a similar process in each jurisdiction, through an opt-out process.
Very importantly, the opt-out of the mandate option does not mean do not wear a mask! Masks continue to be a critical piece of prevention when trying to open our economy and get kids back to school in the coming weeks.
“COVID-19 is not diminishing as we had hoped with warmer weather and case numbers and incidence rates are beginning to increase in all three of our counties as we go back to the parts of our lives before COVID,” Douglas said. “Every individual is responsible for containing the spread of COVID, by social distancing, wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings, washing their hands frequently, staying home when ill, and cooperating with public health investigations if diagnosed with COVID-19.”
Visit www.tchd.org/coronavirus for data on number of cases, incidence rate, hospitalizations, and deaths and mask usage in your community.
Tri-County Health Department serves over 1.5 million people in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. It provides over 60 programs and services including birth certificates, immunizations, WIC, restaurant inspections, family planning, STI/HIV Testing, and infectious disease investigations. For more information, visit www.tchd.org Twitter @TCHDHealth or Facebook @cotchd.