Jefferson County Board of Health Votes to Rescind PHO 21-006 (mask order) on Feb. 18, 2022
The Jefferson County Board of Health met today, Feb. 3, 2022, to discuss the future of PHO 21-006, the public health order requiring the use of masks in all public, indoor settings, including school and childcare settings. After hearing updated data from Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH), as well as comments from the public, the Board voted to rescind PHO 21-006, effective Feb. 18, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. In addition, the Board voted to review updated data at the regularly scheduled Board of Health meeting on Feb. 15, 2022.
“The data in Jefferson County shows promising trends, with decreasing case rates, hospitalizations and deaths. We are getting closer every day to COVID-19 no longer being a pandemic, but being endemic (present, but controlled) within our community,” said Christine Billings, Head of the Office of Pandemic Response at JCPH. “It is important to note that while case rates still indicate that Jeffco is a high transmission area, nearly all cases of COVID-19 in the county are the omicron variant, which has been shown to have milder symptoms for most as compared to previous variants.”
Current data projections, as provided by CDPHE, indicate that by mid-February, 80 percent of the Colorado community will have a level of immunity against COVID-19 due to either vaccination, infection with the omicron variant or both. By allowing the mask order to stay in place until Feb. 18, the Board of Health believes we can reach a safer state within our community and allow different sectors within our community to ensure layered mitigation strategies and safer environments for the medically fragile. In addition, monitoring data throughout this period will allow a higher level of confidence within the Jeffco community as we move forward without mandatory face coverings.
“Today’s decision by the Jefferson County Board of Health shows a respectful commitment to compromise and truly considering all sides of an issue,” said Cheri Jahn, Board of Health President. “There are many things to consider when we look at these kinds of decisions. The Board takes very seriously the best interests of our schools, businesses, healthcare facilities and members of our public, as well as the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. By officially adding an expiration date to PHO 21-006, we are showing a commitment to moving forward through this pandemic, while renewing our promise to the community that we will always do what is in the best interest of public health.”
While the Jefferson County PHO is set to expire on Feb. 18, 2022 at 12:01 a.m., any state or federal mask requirements will remain in place in the county – such as the federal requirement for all individuals to wear a mask when using public transportation and CDPHE’s Public Health Order 20-38, which requires unvaccinated individuals to wear masks in specific settings, including medical facilities (including long term care facilities), homeless shelters, prisons and jails. Additionally, individuals will still need to follow current isolation and quarantine guidance, which includes wearing a mask for 5 days after the initial 5-day isolation period, when in indoor, public settings, including school settings. Lastly, any businesses or facilities that wish to require masks may continue to do so.
Based on real-world evidence, we have learned and are now armed with clear, simple ways to stay safer and help prevent COVID-19. Layering these strategies is the best way to get the most protection for yourself, your loved ones and your community:
- Get vaccinated. If you have not yet received your vaccine or your booster (if eligible), please do so as soon as possible. COVID-19 vaccines are free and no ID or insurance is required. For a complete list of COVID-19 vaccine locations across the county, including what ages they serve, visit www.jeffco.us/vaccinesignup.
- Mask up. Although masks will no longer be mandated upon the expiration of the PHO, JCPH still strongly recommends the use of masks in any indoor, public settings. Further, use of N95 or KN95 masks is strongly encouraged, as they have higher levels of protection, but wearing a well-fitting surgical mask is also effective.
- Get tested. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested as soon as possible, even if you are vaccinated. For a list of COVID-19 testing locations in and around Jeffco, visit www.jeffco.us/testing
- Keep your distance. Maintain at least 6-ft. distancing from those not in your household, especially if you aren’t sure about their vaccination status or if you yourself are unvaccinated.
- Take everyday prevention steps. The things you do every day — like regular handwashing, keeping high-touch surfaces clean and disinfected, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when you’re sick — will help stop the spread of germs and keep you and your loved ones healthy.
To join the Jefferson County Board of Health meeting on Feb. 15, 2022, and to find more important information, please visit https://www.jeffco.us/3413/Board-of-Health.