Colorado governor extends statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Sunday extended the statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have climbed in recent weeks.

It’s the third time Polis has extended the order requiring facemasks in public places for another 30 days. 

The governor signed the initial mask order on July 16, and approved the first extension to the order on Aug. 14. Polis extended the order again on Sept. 30.

The extended order was also amended, allowing waivers for some indoor activities that will require approval by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

“CDPHE, in consultation with the appropriate Local Public Health Administration, may grant waivers for certain indoor activities that take place for a limited time period if such activities cannot practically or safely be performed while wearing a mask,” the amendment to the order says.

“We have learned that widespread mask use is a low cost and highly effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infections by as much as 65%,” the order states. “Broad adoption of mask wearing in Colorado may have significant economic benefits by allowing the State to prevent re-closures of businesses and schools and, ultimately, return to our normal lives more quickly.”

Polis said during a news briefing on Friday that he planned on extending the order, citing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increasing in recent weeks, something he attributed to “coronavirus fatigue.” 

“I’m the most worried that I have been since early July,” he added.

As of Sunday, 383 people are currently hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19. There were 263 total confirmed or suspected COVID-19 two weeks ago on Sept. 27, according to CDPHE data. 

The state has had over 78,000 total cases and over 2,100 deaths.

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