Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Masks in public indoor spaces once more

By: Amber McIver-Traywick | The Surveyor | October 21, 2021 | Health & Fitness

Friday, Oct. 15 the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) announced they would be issuing a public health order requiring that face coverings be worn in all public indoor spaces in Larimer County. The mandate comes in response to county hospital intensive care units remaining close to or exceeding their care capacity over the past few weeks.

The order, which went into effect Wed. Oct. 20 at 12 p.m., 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.

At the beginning of August, Larimer County Public Health Director Tom Gonzales 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.

According to county health officials, local hospital ICUs have been operating at or above 100% of the level of customary care. Additionally, fewer residents have been getting vaccinated. In a statement released by LCDHE it was stated that 40% of patients in Larimer County ICUs have COVID-19 and 90% of those individuals are unvaccinated. Health officials say 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, ” said Gonzales.  “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%.

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 program can be found at https://bit.ly/larimervaxverified.

For more information and to read the full order, visit https://bit.ly/larimermaskorder.

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