(CBS4) — The Tri-County Health Department voted Wednesday to require wearing masks in public. The mandate hasn’t been officially issued yet but it will cover Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties — and the City of Aurora. Once issued, it will be in place for 90 days. Any city or county can apply to opt out.
Board members spent much of the meeting discussing the effectiveness of masks — and some didn’t approve the mask mandate.
With the 5-4 vote, the health department directed Tri-County Health Executive Director John Douglas to draft an order requiring people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces such as businesses, as well as in outdoor public places, where six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained, according to the Denver Post. However, not every city within those counties may be required to follow the mask mandate.
All Adams County Board members: Rosanna Reyes, Julie Mullica and Richard Delaney, voted in favor of passing the mandate. Paulette Joswick of Douglas County and Jan Brainard of Arapahoe County also voted for the Tri-County Mask mandate.
Kaia Gallagher and Thomas Fawell of Arapahoe County voted against the mandate, along with Marsha Jaroch and Zachary Nannestad of Douglas County.
The Board spent much of the meeting discussing the effectiveness of masks, but not all agreed that it was the health department’s place to order such a mandate.
“I don’t think it’s in our purview to order mandated masks. I think whoever is the mandater has to be the policing person. [Elected officals] want somebody else to take that task at hand,” said Jaroch.
During the meeting, the board received a letter signed by several metro area mayors approving the mask mandate – including Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, who supports, but hasn’t called for mandatory face coverings in Aurora.
Jarroch, a Douglas County Board member for TCHD, wondered why some elected officials haven’t wanted to make this call on their own.
“I’ve heard from elected offices who say the order is more credible if it comes from a health authority and not a group of elected officials,” said Douglas.
“I support the Tri-County Health Department’s face mask mandate, although I disagree with their opt-out provision. Either it’s important enough from a public health standpoint, to have a mandate, or it isn’t. I believe it is.
“As the mayor of Aurora I will not be asking for a vote to opt out of the requirement, but any member of our city council will be able to ask for one.
“This order will create a patchwork of differing requirements within the Tri-County service area. There will be cities who have a mask requirement versus those who don’t while their respective residents will be moving back and forth across municipal boundaries on any given day. No doubt, the solution is for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment under Governor Polis to issue a mask requirement for the entire Denver Metro region.
“Our COVID hospitalization trend-line is no longer moving down, and a face mask mandate is the least invasive way to stem the spread of the virus so we can continue opening up our economy and getting back to work.”
“We’ve got people who know what theyre doing and keep up with the evidence. We don’t need to let people scare us off,” said Paulette Joswick, TCHD from Douglas County.
The mandate hasn’t been officially issued yet. Once officially issued, the mask order would be in effect for 90 days unless extended.