Jefferson County, Colo. – Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) today issued an Emergency Public Health Order effective July 14 at 5 p.m. that requires Jefferson County residents and visitors to wear a mask or cloth face covering when in public settings when unable to maintain 6 foot social distancing. The Order does not require face coverings when in private residences, or in a personal vehicle when traveling alone or with members of your household. A hearing will be held during the scheduled Jefferson County Board of Health meeting on July 21 with a discussion on whether to amend or extend the order.
In Jefferson County, there has been a large increase in COVID-19 cases since mid-June. During the week of June 14, we saw 76 new cases, our lowest number of cases per week since the beginning of March. For comparison, last week (week of July 5) we saw 230 new cases, a three-fold increase. Hospitalizations have also begun to rise again, both in Jefferson County and across the Denver Metro area.
“As cases have started to increase sharply across the Denver Metro Area and in Jefferson County, we are looking at the tools we have to prevent the surges that are happening in other parts of our country, including bordering states, from happening here,” said Dr. Mark B. Johnson, Executive Director at JCPH. “While we have always strongly encouraged our residents to wear face coverings, we are joining others in the Denver Metro Area to take it a step further and make them mandatory.”
There is a growing body of scientific research that shows the use of cloth face coverings helps prevent the transmission of COVID-19, especially from people who are contagious but do not have symptoms. Additionally, face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in a community when they are widely used by people in public settings.
COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
In recent days, Governor Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) have called on local communities to take action to increase mask wearing among their residents, noting significant benefits to public health and economic activity.
“We applaud JCPH for taking steps to increase mask wearing in Jefferson County,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, MPH, Executive Director at CDPHE. “Evidence shows that when more people wear a mask, transmission of COVID-19 can be reduced, which means fewer people become ill with the virus and we can continue to rebuild our economy.”
Many residents and community partners have urged the department to issue a mask order, and this move is also supported by many local businesses who believe this action will help to avoid a retreat in the county’s economic opening.
“Wearing a mask, along with social distancing, is one of the best things we can do to look out for one another right now,” Johnson said. “To me, when it means I’m helping keep my loved ones from getting very ill, and that we can all get back to normal a little sooner, it makes a great deal of sense.”
The Order provides exceptions for health conditions, certain work conditions, first responder unforeseen emergencies, children under 5 years of age and for situations in which CDPHE has explicitly permitted the removal of a face covering. Face coverings should not be worn by young children under age 3, anyone who has medical conditions that prevent them from wearing it, or anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance.
Click here to read the full Emergency Public Health Order. For more information about face coverings, including tips for how to wear them and frequently asked questions, visit https://www.jeffco.us/4056/Mask-Guidance or https://covid19.colorado.gov/mask-guidance.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is a nationally accredited health department committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan for all people through prevention, education and partnerships. To learn more about JCPH visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.