UPDATE: ‘It Clearly Sucks’: Tri-County Health Executive Director Explains School Mask Mandate

(CBS4) – Tri-County Health Department voted to replace a current public health order with a new one which mandates everyone 2 years and older to wear a mask inside a school or child care facility. The previous order covered staff and students 2-11 years old.

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The new order passed by a 5-3 vote.

The order covers Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties. The new order also comes after TCHD rescinded an option for those counties to opt out of public health orders.

The new order takes effect on Sept. 1. and is expected to stay in effect until Dec. 31, 2021.

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(credit: CBS)

“The most important thing we can do for children’s mental health and well-being is to assure in-person learning and limit interruptions to this in-person learning by keeping children and the classrooms safe,” Dr. John Douglas, TCHD executive director. “We have reached a point where transmission has increased significantly and is putting our communities at risk. We must now take the statutory responsibility and authority given to us by the Colorado Legislature to reduce the spread of communicable diseases and keep our communities safe. The new mask order will help to protect those who cannot get vaccinated and allow children to continue in-person learning.”

TCHD says the order is in alignment with federal guidance which recommends mask wearing in public spaces with high rates of community transmission. The health department encompasses Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

“Mask-wearing is one aspect of a comprehensive mix of mitigation strategies. Masks have been shown to be 50-70% effective in reducing transmission of infection. However, like vaccination, protection from masking is most effective with higher levels of use; mask-wearing compliance is highest when it is mandated,” TCHD official said.

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Arapahoe County commissioners met on Monday afternoon to talk about whether to opt out of the previous public health order, but as of Monday at 6 p.m. that option is no longer available.

Danielle Chavira