By Jamie Leary

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Jefferson County is one of six counties to take Colorado’s mask mandate further, requiring masks outside, when social distancing isn’t possible.

“We have been seeing an in increase in cases over the last couple weeks, pretty much ever since Memorial Day we have been watching a trend that’s going up so we were concerned about that. We don’t have a lot of tools with which to fight this disease but one of those was the mask order,” said Dr. Mark Johnson, Executive Director for Jefferson County Public Health.

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Johnson said when looking in the state mandate further, he realized it focused primarily on the use of masks indoors, so Friday, along with Denver, Arapahoe, Adams, Broomfield and Boulder Counties, Jefferson County made masks outside, law.

“This basically says that anytime you are unable to keep physical distancing from anyone else, if you’re indoors or outdoors, you need to be wearing a mask,” said Johnson.

Johnson emphasized this would not mandate people to wear a mask 24/7, and used his own personal experiences as an example,

“My wife and I love to hike on North Table Mountain and so what we do is we carry our mask with us, and as long as we are away from anybody else, we don’t wear it. If we see somebody coming where we’re going to pass on the trail, we put our mask on.”

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Many people have thanked Johnson. Others have told him to watch his back, have even threatened to throw him out of office. He said he has had to remind people, he is not an elected official.

He says it’s all about minimizing the spread of aerosols, a primary way the CDC says the virus is transferred.

With the spike in cases in Jefferson county specifically, wearing masks in crowded outdoor spaces may help prevent further spread.

“We believe it’s not nearly as onerous as having to move back towards a closing businesses and stay at home which is something that might have to happen if the spike increases.”

Tuesday, the city of Golden was buzzing with life. Many people unaware of the new mandate, but still wearing masks.

One canoer, even had one ready to go in her life jacket.

“It hangs out in my life jacket so as soon as we get out we pull them on,” said Alyse Oxenford.

She found took a break studying for the MCATs the day to train alongside her father and a coach for a national canoe competition in three weeks.

“I’m an EMT basic and wilderness first responder. It tells me that people should not wear these on the river if you do what I did, go for a nice swim, this can block your airway and kind of waterboard yourself and if you can’t get it off fast enough it’s not safe,” she said.

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She has a home in Golden and says outside of Clear Creek, it’s tough around town to social distance. The mask? It’s easy to wear.

There have been no known citations given in Jefferson County. Johnson says while there are people from the county who occasionally observe and law enforcement are aware, the county will largely rely on public reports.

There are small differences between the counties regarding the new mandate, the main one is age. In Jefferson County, those who are 10 years old or younger, are exempt.

For more information: https://www.jeffco.us/

Jamie Leary

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