ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– There have been 363 complaints so far involving the Tri-County Health Department mask mandate which covers Adams and Arapahoe counties. Most involve businesses not enforcing the rules.

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The mandate is clear: you must wear a mask for indoor public spaces. Ninety of the complaints involve gyms.

One member complained about the lack of masks and was told by a gym employee, “We don’t have to go through all the crap we did before.”

Tri-County Environmental Health Director Brian Hlavacek says there is a right way to do it, “Please put on a mask if you are going to enter and if you are not going to do that we are going to ask you to leave.”

Some other gym users complained about the mandate itself.

One writing, “Sometimes I just have to breathe.”

While another argued, “Absolutely ridiculous that you would require me to wear a mask while working out.”

Grocery stores were high on the list with 52 complaints.

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One person asked a security guard to make people wear masks and claimed was told, “It would get him killed.”

At one discount store, a person said they were informed “People did not need to wear masks if they were vaccinated,” which is not true. Another store falsely insisted the mandates are not valid unless by state law or edict by the governor.

“So the businesses have a responsibility to tell people without masks to put them on?” asked CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.

The response, “Yes… yeah.”

At a pharmacy with patrons not wearing masks, a woman angrily wrote that she “spent a year and a half to keep her son safe.”

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Dr. John Douglas, the Executive Director of Tri-County Health was asked by CBS4 via email if the mask mandate has been effective. Here is the reply: Really too early to say that the mandate has driven down numbers. We know that data on testing, case rates, and hospitalization rates can be impacted by a long holiday like Thanksgiving (eg, delayed testing, treatment and reporting) as well as weekends in general, so I think it’s prudent to wait another few days before we begin to draw tentative conclusions. We do know, based on a national county-specific survey through Facebook and analyzed by Carnegie-Mellon University, that since 11/24 mask-wearing rates have increased by 24% in Adams County and 23% in Arapahoe County which increases our ability to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when combined with other prevention actions. It’s also important to understand that using all the prevention measures we have available including wearing masks in indoor public spaces and getting vaccinated are especially important with the emerging new omicron variant.

Rick Sallinger