San Juan Basin Public Health extended its mask ordinance Friday to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rather than an order issued by Gov. Jared Polis.
Polis’ mask requirement order for the state expires every 30 days, which requires him to extend it. Polis extended the order Friday but had some unclear and confusing issues in it, said SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon.
Namely, it appears Polis’ order says people in groups of fewer than 10 people can gather in public indoor spaces without masks, regardless of vaccination status.
The CDC, however, says it is not yet safe for groups of fewer than 10 people to gather in public spaces without masks.
“We’ve seen these types of outbreaks in our community in the last few weeks,” Jollon said. “These types of outbreaks can interfere with important community services like in-person learning in schools or other essential services.”
As a result, Jollon said SJBPH, which covers Archuleta and La Plata counties, is sticking with the CDC guidance.
“It is best that we follow the CDC until more of us are protected with vaccinations,” she said.
A request for comment from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was not immediately returned late Friday.
SJBPH issued a public health order continuing to require masks in all public indoor settings unless all individuals present are fully vaccinated. A person is considered fully vaccinated if two weeks have passed after receiving the one-dose vaccine or their second dose of a two-dose vaccine series.
The order takes effect Saturday and will remain in effect until May 3, or until either Archuleta or La Plata counties achieves and maintains a seven-day incidence rate less than 35 cases per 100,000 people.
This week, nearly 100 people tested positive for COVID-19 in La Plata County, and 16 people tested positive in Archuleta County, according to SJBPH.