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January 20, 2022 10:10 PM

Public Health Extends Mask Requirement in Public Indoor Spaces

(January 20, 2021) – San Miguel County Public Health has extended the county-wide public health order requiring masks in public indoor places. The requirement will be renewed before expiration Monday, January 31 at 11:59 pm MST.

The order is now set to expire on Monday, February 28 at 11:59 pm MST with an option for early termination if decision-making metrics improve. All individuals 2 years of age and older, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask while indoors in public spaces.

“The omicron wave has hit our community quickly and continues to spread rapidly,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “We know that consistent and proper mask use works to prevent the spread of COVID in places like our schools, offices, and grocery stores. With the alarming case trend throughout the county, masking remains critical to preventing the spread of COVID.”

Colorado is experiencing record-high rates of COVID hospitalizations, cases, and transmission. According to global trends surrounding the omicron variant, these rates are expected to slow in the coming weeks though the decline has not yet been observed throughout the state. Moreover, half of the state’s hospitals anticipate staffing shortages and ICU bed shortages as rapid rates of infection have historically led to an increase in hospitalizations.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance last week clarifying that cloth masks do not offer as much protection against transmission as surgical masks or N95 and KN95 respirators. Amid the rapid omicron surge, the agency urged Americans to “wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.” For school settings, CDC continues to recommend universal indoor masking by all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.

“The benefits of wearing a mask outweigh the inconveniences,” said Director Franklin. “While we will continue to evaluate, this extension will protect in-person learning, essential services, our economy and our at-risk family, friends and neighbors.”

“Public indoor places” continues to be defined broadly to include any enclosed indoor area, which is publicly or privately owned, to which the public has access by right or invitation. It includes enclosed indoor space serving as a place of employment, indoor stores, businesses, schools, common areas, offices, lobbies, and elevators. Consequently, employers should continue implementation of this requirement amongst employees, contractors, customers, and anyone else within their indoor space.

The federal government continues to require masks on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. This federal mandate includes the gondola servicing Telluride and Mountain Village and all public buses throughout the county.

Businesses and entities may impose more strict requirements, but not less restrictive.

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