By Raetta Holdman

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado State Epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy took a firm stance on masks for children during a COVID-19 update on Tuesday morning.

“Masks in school are incredibly important, but masks outside of schools are also incredibly important and something that we need to be keeping in mind as our kids are out and about,” she told members of the media during a Colorado Department of Health and Environment briefing.

“Those of us who are vaccinated may be more comfortable being out and about, but we need to remember that our children who are too young to be vaccinated continue to be incredibly vulnerable. More vulnerable than they’ve been in the past, unfortunately.”

RELATED: ‘Get Vaccinated, Don’t Screw Around’: Colorado Man Who Got COVID Twice Describes Months Spent Recovering In Hospital

There continues to be high levels of COVID-19 transmission across Colorado as well as across the nation. Most of the United States is in the high level of transmission, according to the CDC mapping. Only 5 counties in Colorado have low levels.

The number of people hospitalized in the state continues to increase. It jumped to 796 on Monday. That’s more than twice the number of just a month ago.

(credit: CDPHE)

Children between ages 6 and 11 are at their highest levels of illness since the pandemic began, and more kids are ending up in the hospital — even though that number is still low.

Herlihy says those rates among children started going up in July before kids went back to school, but she did said schools are a location for transmission.

The state is also moving forward its plan to get more tests into schools.

MORE NEWS: 'It Clearly Sucks': Tri-County Health Executive Director Explains School Mask Mandate

The better news with regards to COVID in Colorado is that 75% of adults are now vaccinated with at least one dose of vaccine and 73% of all eligible people — meaning those 12 and older — have received at least one dose.

Raetta Holdman