To mask or not to mask?

Confusing new mandate has Elbert County folks shaking their heads

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 5/11/21

Gov. Jared Polis once again extended the executive order requiring Coloradans to wear facial coverings when in public places, adding another 30 days, extending the order to June 2. Polis’ new …

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To mask or not to mask?

Confusing new mandate has Elbert County folks shaking their heads

Posted

Gov. Jared Polis once again extended the executive order requiring Coloradans to wear facial coverings when in public places, adding another 30 days, extending the order to June 2. Polis’ new mandate includes some language that has Coloradans, including Elbert County residents, wondering what to do next.

The mandate still requires school students and personnel to wear masks, as well as people in nursing homes, prisons or in public areas of state government facilities. However, an exception has been created for mask rules in public indoor spaces, saying “individuals are permitted to remove their medical or non-medical cloth face covering in Public Indoor Spaces if 80% of the individuals in the Public Indoor Space have shown proof of vaccination,” in the words of the public health order.

Elbert County resident Dean Gerdan said he can’t imagine how that plan would be attainable.

“In theory it’s good, the more vaccinated people the better,” said Gerdan. “But how are we supposed to know if they’re vaccinated? Asking for their vaccination card seems like asking to see their “papers” to be able to go into restaurants and businesses. That’s a slippery slope that I don’t think anyone in Elbert County is going to go along with.”

Elbert County Commissioner Chris Richardson said the mandate could have some benefits in theory, but that there is no way to enforce the mandate, and neither the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment nor the governor’s office have given any guidelines for enforcing the mandate.

“It’s a reasonable hope, but there’s no way we can even consider enforcing it,” said Richardson. “There’s probably a valid scientific method to the 80% rule, but there is just no legal way to know if someone been vaccinated. We can’t legally enforce that.”

Elbert County commissioners have taken the stance throughout the pandemic that their residents will make good choices for themselves, and have preferred to inform residents and trust then to make right decisions.

“Our position has always been that residents of Elbert County are responsible adults and make sure they are aware of the mandate and exemptions,” said Richardson. “We trust they will make the right decisions for them and their families.”

Shelby Weiman, a spokesperson for Polis’ office, issued this statement in regard to how the mandate would be enforced.

“Per CDPHE guidance: “Businesses or facilities should err on the side of assuming that people entering their indoor site are unvaccinated, unless they show proof of vaccination. An individual can show proof by showing their vaccination card, a picture of the vaccination card on a cell phone, or a copy of their immunization records.”

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