Larimer County, CO – The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) has issued a public health order requiring that face coverings be worn in all public indoor spaces in Larimer County. The order requires that all persons aged 3 years and older wear face coverings and outlines limited exceptions, including for individuals who cannot medically tolerate a face covering. The order goes into effect Wednesday, October 20, 2021, at 12:00 pm.
On August 11, 2021, the Larimer County Public Health Director strongly recommended that all community members wear masks in public indoor spaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19 due to the rapidly increasing threat of the Delta variant. In addition, the Public Health Director called on unvaccinated eligible residents to make the decisions to get vaccinated without delay.
However, for the past four weeks, local hospital ICUs have been operating at or above 100% of the level of customary care, while fewer residents have been getting vaccinated. Currently, 40% of patients in the ICU have COVID-19 and 90% are unvaccinated. Universal mask wearing can help slow transmission of the virus and relieve local hospitals while more people get vaccinated.
“Larimer County hospitals are being overburdened and we cannot allow this to continue indefinitely. Our hospitals need relief so they can swiftly and adequately treat all urgent medical needs in our community, ” says Tom Gonzales, Larimer County Public Health Director. “Vaccination is the best way out of this pandemic, but 35% of Larimer County’s population remains unvaccinated against COVID-19. Universal mask-wearing is the next best prevention tool we have to reduce the strain on our hospitals.”
“Our hospitals and emergency rooms continue to operate with a high volume of patients both COVID and non-COVID. Last year when we all masked and practiced social distancing, there were far fewer flu and RSV cases, which lessened the burden on hospitals and allowed us to get a handle on the pandemic. To put us back in a good position to provide the care everyone needs, we support steps to have community members adopt good health practices and reduce the spread of these respiratory illnesses,” says Margo Karsten, president Banner Health Western Region.
“Our heroic skilled hospital staff are working tirelessly to provide care for all people with an urgent medical condition, but our hospitals have been overburdened too long with COVID-19 patients, and need relief. Universal masking has proven to work by reducing the spread of the virus, says Kevin Unger,” says President /CEO UCHealth North Region.
The Public Health Order will remain in place until Larimer County has met the four metrics below for 21 consecutive days, or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Larimer County Public Health Director;
- < 65 COVID-19 patients in the Larimer County hospitals;
- Intensive Care Unit utilization at less than 90% of usual and customary levels;
- A Larimer County 7-Day Case Rate per 100k of < 300;
- A Larimer County 7-Day Test Positivity Rate of < 10%.
“We are in a battle with a virus and the sooner we again collectively fight this virus the sooner masks will be a thing of our past,” says Gonzales.
Larimer County facilities that wish to implement mandatory vaccination policies for staff, patrons, and guests have the opportunity to apply to become an Approved Vaccine Verified Facility and be exempted from the mask requirements with approval from LCDHE. More information about this opportunity can be found at https://bit.ly/larimervaxverified.
For more information and to read the full order, visit https://bit.ly/larimermaskorder.
The Larimer County Department of Health & Environment has a webpage dedicated to helping residents find information about COVID-19 vaccination and for registering for an appointment at www.larimer.org/covidvaccine. The direct link to schedule an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine is: https://larimerhealth.secure.force.com/Vaccine/. Individuals may also call LCDHE at 970-498-5500 for assistance scheduling an appointment. Phone assistance is available in English and Spanish.
LCDHE is encouraging Larimer County residents to view the latest credible information on COVID-19 at www.larimer.org/covid19 or www.CDC.gov/coronavirus. Additionally, residents are encouraged to follow LCDHE’s Facebook and Twitter accounts at @LarimerHealth.