Clear Creek County continues mask order, maintains Level Blue status

Corinne Westeman
cwesteman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 4/13/21

Regardless of what Colorado does in the next few weeks, Clear Creek County will maintain a mask mandate and Level Blue restrictions until May 31. The county commissioners, sitting as the County Board …

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Clear Creek County continues mask order, maintains Level Blue status

Posted

Regardless of what Colorado does in the next few weeks, Clear Creek County will maintain a mask mandate and Level Blue restrictions until May 31.

The county commissioners, sitting as the County Board of Health, approved the public health order unanimously during their regular meeting Tuesday.

The board can revisit this public health order on a weekly basis, and can extend or rescind it depending on COVID-19 data, County Attorney Peter Lichtman clarified.

State officials have indicated the statewide COVID-19 dial will no longer be a requirement but merely guidance starting sometime this week and that the statewide mask mandate could end in early May.

However, given Colorado's ongoing fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, County Public Health Director Tim Ryan said it's possible state officials could continue the statewide dial requirements and mask mandate.

Either way, with Tuesday's public health order, Clear Creek is still covered during this “limbo period,” as Lichtman described it, and will maintain the status quo.

“The businesses will continue to operate as they have been under Level Blue,” Lichtman said. “ … (This order) gives us a six-week breathing period.”

Commissioner Sean Wood commented that, given how fast the situation is changing, he would've preferred this new public health order not last until May 31. However, he acknowledged that he and his colleagues will be fine-tuning it as needed.

Lichtman and Ryan clarified the order could be modified if, for instance, the number of local COVID-19 cases drastically increases or decreases, which would warrant moving out of Level Blue.

The Dial 3.0 language provides the clearest instruction for both individuals and businesses, Lichtman and Ryan said, and county staff wanted to keep that expectation and not have to reinvent the wheel on providing guidance to the community.

Regarding the mask mandate, face coverings will still be required in any spaces open to the public, the commissioners clarified.

Several counties in the Denver metro area and the greater mountain community are continuing their own mask mandates in case the statewide one isn't renewed, and it's important that Clear Creek be consistent with its neighbors, Lichtman and Ryan said.

19% of county residents fully vaccinated

Based on the latest data from state officials, Ryan estimated that about 27% of Clear Creek's eligible residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine anywhere in Colorado.

About 19% are fully vaccinated.

All Coloradans 16 and older are eligible for the vaccine, and these numbers do not include those 15 and younger who are ineligible, he clarified.

Before state health officials advised pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution, Ryan said the county offered walk-up clinics for local frontline workers around the county April 9-11.

Of the 1,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines it received, it distributed about 400 during the weekend's walk-up clinics. The remaining 600 will be distributed once the state recommends resuming those operations.

Along with its vaccination clinics every Wednesday, Clear Creek also hosts a community testing site in Idaho Springs on Tuesdays with about 40 participants every week. Regular voluntary testing also continues in the schools and county jail, Ryan said.

Commissioner George Marlin described Clear Creek's percentage of vaccinated as relatively low rate compared to other counties; and Ryan said one reason is that some recent clinics had a high volume of out-of-county patients, and clinic sites aren't supposed to discriminate based on where patients live.

However, Ryan said, other counties didn't follow that policy and favored their own residents, and his department is now taking steps to ensure Clear Creek residents have better access to appointments locally.

Through these efforts, he hoped to see the percentage of fully vaccinated residents jump within the next month.

To make a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, please call the county public health department at 303-670-7528.

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