DENVER – Denver is joining other nearby counties in imposing a mask mandate in public places, a move which officials said Tuesday was needed to prevent the region’s hospital system from collapsing amid a surge in cases.
Starting Wednesday, everyone age 2 and older will have to wear a mask in indoor public places in Denver. However, echoing the approach taken by surrounding counties, businesses that can show that at least 95% of its customers and staff members are fully vaccinated will not have to require people to wear masks, Mayor Michael Hancock said.
The health boards covering Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties in suburban Denver passed similar mandates Monday, which will also take effect Wednesday. Boulder and Larimer counties have also issued mask mandates in the absence of a statewide mask order.
The executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, Bob McDonald, blamed the unvaccinated for the move, pointing out that 83% of those hospitalized for COVID-19 have not gotten vaccinated.
“Hospitals are filling up by those of you who have chosen not to get vaccinated,” he said.
Capacity is so limited at the city’s public hospital, Denver Health its emergency room has been routinely diverting patients to other hospitals, CEO Robin Wittenstein said.