Colorado has announced plans to lift its statewide mask mandate once the current mandate expires April 4 and ease its coronavirus protocols.
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ administration released its plan Friday to begin dialing back COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for the past year. Polis’ proposal would grant local governments and “private entities” in the counties with the lowest COVID-19 infection rates the authority to determine whether or not masks must be worn. It would also end many restrictions on outdoor events and update the requirements for a county to be considered the lowest level of risk.
A county in Colorado must have no more than 15 cases per 100,000 people in order to be considered “Level Green.” The new guidelines would update that by allowing a rate of 35 cases per 100,000, making it easier for those counties to pull their mask requirements. The proposed changes would not affect schools. Students aged 11-18 will be required to wear masks indoors for the remainder of the year, regardless of their county’s color tier.
Polis’ proposal appears to go against President Joe Biden’s message of extreme caution pertaining to COVID-19. Biden recently called removing safety measures like mask orders a “big mistake” and “Neanderthal thinking,” following Republicans Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ decisions to lift statewide mandates. Despite being vaccinated, Biden is regularly seen wearing a mask both indoors and outdoors. (RELATED: ‘Neanderthal Thinking’: Biden, White House Bash State Governors For Ending Mask Mandates)
Biden’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky said in early March that “now is not the time” to ease restrictions, but the Polis administration stated that circumstances are changing due to increased vaccine distribution.
Colorado’s goal is “to slow the disease while attempting to limit the ramifications of closing down parts of the state and the impacts that come with that,” state public health director Jill Ryan said in a statement released Friday.
Over 115 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. since December, and over 41 million Americans are fully vaccinated, according to Politifact.