Colorado governor issues statewide mask order

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide mask mandate Thursday afternoon, after days of pressure from his fellow Democrats to make the move.

Polis announced at a news conference that he has issued an executive order requiring everyone age 10 and older to wear a mask or other facial covering while in public indoor spaces. The order is effective at midnight.

“Look, in Colorado, there’s no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service,” Polis said. “Very simple.”

The order is effective for at least 30 days. Violators “may be subject to civil or criminal penalties,” Polis said.

The governor’s order follows four straight weeks of rising COVID-19 cases in Colorado, including a 40% increase last week, according to state health officials. Hospitalizations for the coronavirus also are increasing, and state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said that current trends could mean Colorado’s ICU bed capacity will be exceeded in September.

“The data is beginning to be alarming,” Polis said.

Polis was joined by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who issued his own mask order on May 1, and Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, who called face coverings the “least invasive and least costly public health option” to combat the coronavirus.

The governor said it’s not enforcement, but rather “the mere clarity of message” of mask ordinances, that he believes will be more effective in improving compliance.

“We need a coordinated, unambiguous state message with moral clarity and scientific clarity, and we’re providing that today,” Polis said.

Several sources with knowledge of his decision-making, but who were not authorized to speak publicly about the governor’s plans, told The Denver Post that his office informed legislative leadership Wednesday that the order was coming.

Polis previously had said he can’t enforce a statewide mask order.

Nearly 40 cities and counties in Colorado already have issued mask orders as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations climb in the state.

The mask order was first reported by Colorado Politics.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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