AURORA | The Tri-County Health Department board of directors will hold a special meeting Monday to discuss potentially ending the mask mandate for schools, childcare facilities and indoor spaces in the near future.
The health order was initially passed in November, and requires all residents over the age of two to wear a mask in indoor settings. A separate health order passed at the beginning of the school year requiring face masks to be worn in all schools and childcare facilities.
Tri-County’s pandemic public health orders are currently only operational in Adams and Arapahoe counties, now that Douglas County is in charge of providing its own COVID-19 services and is in process of forming a new health department.
The board extended the orders through Friday, Feb. 4 but they may not be continued after that, according to a Friday news release from Tri-County. The release cited a decline in COVID-19 case numbers following the surge from omicron as reason for reconsideration.
“Recently released estimates from the State’s modeling team indicate that over 40% of Colorado residents have been infected by omicron and that 80% of the state’s population will be immune to omicron by mid-February, with cases and hospitalizations predicted to continue to decline,” the release said. “Given these trends and the growing availability to an array of prevention tools, particularly more effective medical grade masks and rapid tests, in addition to access to free vaccines, TCHD believes it is an appropriate time to consider ending the mask orders.”
Adams and Arapahoe counties are both in the “high transmission” category for COVID-19 based on Tri-County’s online data dashboard, although case rates have declined significantly from earlier in January when a surge in the omicron variant brought case counts to the highest level on record in the two counties.
According to the most recent data, Adams County has a 7-day incidence rate of 136.1 cases per 100,000 residents, and Arapahoe County a rate of 126.2
The original indoor masking public health order said that the order would remain in place until staffed ICU availability was above 10% in the region. In the past two weeks, it has reached that target on just one day.
Local school districts have largely followed Tri-County’s lead during the pandemic, but they have their own authority to require masks or other safety measures regardless of whether a mandate is in place.
The health board meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 and will be held remotely. Information on how to attend is available at tchd.org/485/Meeting-Information.