Boulder County Extends Face Covering Order

Amber Fisher

BOULDER COUNTY, CO — The Boulder County Board of Health has approved the extension of the face covering order through June 30, officials announced Friday. The order requires everyone over age 12 to wear a mask anywhere that they can't ensure social distancing guidelines are met.

Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health's executive director, said his team "conducted informal observations in Boulder County communities and distributed a survey to businesses to get a sense of how well the order is being followed."

“Although we saw many instances where social distancing of six feet or more was not being followed, we are seeing high rates of compliance with the face covering order, especially in municipalities that also have a masking order.

"Wearing face coverings in public is one way for our community to help stop the spread while allowing us to reopen our economy; I want to thank our community for taking this seriously. It’s important to remember that maintaining six feet or more distance between each other, in conjunction with masking and handwashing, is still the primary way to prevent the spread of this disease.”

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Monitoring showed very high compliance with mask wearing in small and large business environments in Boulder, Longmont, Louisville and Lafayette, health officials said. Many shoppers were also seen at a variety of large stores in the cities, creating conditions that limit a person’s ability to maintain six feet of distance from other shoppers. The county’s mask order provides increased protection for people in those situations.

Christopher Urbina, a family physician and Boulder County Public Health medical officer, said "there is no evidence that cloth masks lead to a buildup of carbon dioxide or impair a healthy person’s ability to inhale oxygen causing danger to the wearer."

“Both of these gases can easily pass through or around the mask. Occasionally, a person with chronic lung disease or asthma may experience difficulty breathing and can usually tolerate a mask for only short period of time.”

A cloth mask prevents large droplets of respiratory particles from being expelled into the air, which may contain virus particles if that person is infected, health officials said. Once the virus is exhaled, it cannot be re-inhaled or worsen the person’s infection. Facial coverings can reduce the spread of droplets from the wearer to others; they do not necessarily protect the wearer from others.

The order does include exceptions, including people working alone in an office, anyone whose health would be negatively impacted by wearing a face covering (including mental health impacts), children aged 12 years and younger, and first responders under certain circumstances (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Order 20-26 requires first responders to wear face coverings).

While the Order does not require children under age 12 to wear a mask, it is expected that parents will encourage and supervise their use for their children older than three years old, health officials said. Colorado has statutes that indicate that children under age 12 cannot form the requisite intent to violate the law in the same way that an adult can; therefore, masks are only recommended - rather than required - for children ages 3 through 12. Children younger than three years should not wear a face covering due to their risk of suffocation.

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This article originally appeared on the Boulder Patch