Face Covering/Mask Update for May 15, 2021
What did the CDC announce and what does it mean for Summit County?
On Thursday, May 13, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) made an announcement stating that fully vaccinated people could resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, or local rules and regulations. This was just guidance from the CDC so state and local face covering/mask mandates still remained in effect after the CDC announcement, and state and local public health professionals have been working since then to provide guidance and/or regulations based on the CDC guidance and their own local public health conditions, including hospital load, amount of COVID cases, and vaccination numbers.
What are the face covering/mask mandates in Summit County going forward?
Under the former local public health order, Summit County required masks to be worn inside all public spaces. The new Summit Public Health order, which took effect at 9:30am on Saturday, May 15, now aligns with the State of Colorado orders issued on May 14, 2021.
- This means that all vaccinated individuals are now no longer required to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors in public spaces.
- It is recommended that unvaccinated individuals still wear face coverings when in indoor public spaces and that everyone wear a face covering in very crowded indoor spaces where the vaccination status of attendees is unknown.
- Yes, the face covering mandate has now in effect become a recommendation and not a requirement for everyone, but there are still some exceptions where face coverings will be required.
Where will face coverings still be required?
- Preschool through grade 12 schools (including extracurricular activities) and child care centers and services; however, fully vaccinated individuals, including vaccinated children ages 16-18, in a classroom, cohort, or other group of children may remove masks where the teacher(s), caregiver(s), or other staff whose primary responsibility is education or childcare have provided proof of fully completed vaccination to their employer;
- Unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated staff of Colorado Division of Motor Vehicle offices;
- Unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated residents, staff, and visitors to congregate care facilities, including nursing facilities, assisted living residences, intermediate care facilities, and group homes; except in situations where removal is authorized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services;
- Unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated residents, staff, and visitors to prisons and jails;
- Unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated personnel in emergency medical and other healthcare settings (including hospitals, ambulance service centers, urgent care centers, non-ambulatory surgical structures, clinics, doctors’ offices, and non-urgent care medical structures).
- Summit County is requiring that individuals ages 2 and older wear masks in schools and child care centers, as well as in indoor camps and rec leagues. In addition, schools and child care centers may choose to maintain stricter mask wearing requirements than those outlined in the state or local health order.
- Owners, operators, and managers of any business or service may, at their discretion, continue to require individuals entering or within their locations to wear face coverings or show proof of full vaccination.
What are the challenges?
- The use of face coverings remains one of the most effective and least impactful ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yes, face coverings can be uncomfortable, but they don’t inhibit commerce or shut down businesses.
- Making face coverings just a recommendation for those who are unvaccinated will most certainly result in some or many unvaccinated individuals failing to wear face coverings.
- Currently, 61.4% of eligible Summit County residents are fully vaccinated and 12.3% are partially vaccinated (awaiting second dose); strong work Summit. This is literally exceptional, as only 36.2% of the eligible US population are vaccinated and 46.8% are partially vaccinated, and in a community with a foundational tourism economy, we understand that we will certainly have not only residents, but also visitors who will not be vaccinated.
- The risk to vaccinated folks is minimal due to vaccine efficacy, but the risk can be significant for folks who have not been vaccinated due to health issues, choice, and age (11 and under still not eligible and 12+ just became eligible).
- The more folks who contract COVID, the more chances there are for more variants of COVID-19 to develop, and this opens up the possibility that a variant will develop for which current vaccines are not as effective.
- There are businesses which will still decide to require face coverings or require proof of vaccination in order to protect their employees and customers, and they will likely face angry customers who disagree with the choices that they make for their businesses.
What can you do?
- Vaccination is a personal choice with significant personal and community impacts and has been shown to be the best way not to get sick with COVID-19, and subsequently, keep businesses open and continue the activities that we have missed for the last year. Seek out reputable sources of information like the CDC and do your research before making this decision; there is a lot of misinformation out there, and it has the potential to very negatively impact your health.
- Vaccines are now readily available for free to everyone 12 and older, and appointments are no longer required here in Summit County, but can be made to reduce your wait time. Check out where vaccines are available on the Summit County vaccine page.
- Take care of yourself. Reach to Building Hope Summit County to connect with the mental health resources that you need. Also, 24-hour support is available through the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-8255 or by texting “TALK” to 38255. Contact the Summit Community Care Clinic if you need affordable and quality healthcare to support your physical wellbeing.
- Stay home if you are sick and get a free COVID test so you have peace of mind, and you don’t get the people around you sick.
- Keep washing your hands a lot and wear a face covering where required or when you believe it is important to your health for you to do so.
- A little kindness and empathy goes a long way right now. People and businesses will be making choices about what is right for them, and that may include continuing to wear face coverings or asking for proof of vaccination. Be a force for good and make the choice not to comment, complain, or harass folks who aren’t making the same choices that you are. It won’t change their minds or business policies, but it will make everyone’s day a little worse.
- At the end of the day, celebrate how far we have come since March 2020 and do the things that feed your soul and make you happy. Trails are dry and beckoning at the Frisco Peninsula, the disc golf course and skate park are open, and soon the Concert in the Park schedule will be announced.