Denver’s mask mandate to remain in place through early May

Denver’s mask mandate will stay in place until at least early May, regardless of what the state of Colorado does, Mayor Michael Hancock said Thursday.

After early May, he said Denver will “evaluate when and where masks will still be required on a month to month basis.”

COVID-19 cases and positivity rates in Denver are slowly ticking up, Hancock said, depicting the city’s condition, at best, as plateauing “at a stubbornly high rate.” He encouraged Denver residents to seek out a vaccine — all Coloradans are eligible as of Friday — and said the city and its partners across the region must work together to slowly and safely transition away from mask mandates and limits on large groups.

Hancock’s announcement comes as the COVID-19 cases across the state were relatively stable through last month and the number of overall outbreaks dropped (though that number did rise in the state’s prisons).

With that stability comes loosened restrictions: Colorado’s health department eliminated most public health restrictions for 26 of the state’s lesser-populated counties. While Denver, Adams, Boulder, Douglas and El Paso counties still have more strict restrictions, restaurants and gyms in those areas with 5-Star state certification can have 100% capacity so long as 6-foot social distancing can be maintained.

COVID-19 cases are spiking again in several other states across the country, Denver’s Public Health Director Bob McDonald said, and the local vaccine rate is “just barely keeping pace” with new cases.

“We are not out of this, we do not want Colorado, and certainly not in Denver, for numbers to start peaking again,” McDonald said.

Warming weather might offer a bit of a break from the virus, which does better in the cold, McDonald said.

State officials have not yet changed the statewide mask mandate, which expires Saturday. As of last week, officials were reviewing public input on a plan to lift nearly all face covering requirements in counties faring the best.

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