Coronavirus

CDC: 62 of 64 Colorado Counties Should Have COVID Mask Mandates

A stroll through downtown Aspen, where masks are required at indoor spaces again under a new Pitkin County Public Health order.
A stroll through downtown Aspen, where masks are required at indoor spaces again under a new Pitkin County Public Health order. YouTube
On September 16, Pitkin County, anchored by Aspen, became the third county in Colorado to reinstate a COVID-19 mask mandate for indoor public spaces, following San Miguel County and Boulder County, whose orders went into effect on September 1 and September 3, respectively. A mask mandate for San Juan County expired on September 10.

That means that 61 of Colorado's 64 counties currently have no indoor masking requirement. But according to recommendations put forward by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those numbers should be almost completely reversed. As of September 17, only two Colorado counties have a COVID-19 incidence rate below the CDC-recommended threshold for an indoor face-covering requirement: San Juan, in the southwestern part of the state, and Crowley, in the southeastern. According to the center's advisories, the other 62 should all be masking up.

The current version of the COVID-19 dial dashboard maintained by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment uses five color codes to designate disease levels. Level Green denotes a cumulative incidence rate of 0-35 cases per 100,000 people, with a 35-100 rate at Level Blue, 100-300 at Level Yellow, 300-500 at Level Orange, and above 500 at Level Red. In contrast, the CDC has just four color-coded rankings for COVID-19 transmission. Blue, or low transmission, includes a one-week cumulative incidence rate per 100,000 people of 0-9.99; the rate is 10-49.99 for Yellow, or moderate transmission; 50-99.99 for Orange, or substantial transmission; and 100 or more for Red, or high transmission.

Federal officials now recommend that facial coverings be worn by everyone "in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission," even if they've been immunized, as tracked over a seven-day period. Right now, San Juan is Colorado's only county at Level Green, with a one-week cumulative incidence rate of 0 per 100,000 people. And while four other counties are at Level Blue (Bent, Conejos, Lake and Sedgwick), Crowley is the only blue county below the 50 cases per 100,000 people point that the CDC uses to mark substantial transmission — barely. As of September 17, Crowley's one-week cumulative incident rate is 49.7.


Most of the other Colorado counties are at levels yellow or orange; only two, Moffat and Lincoln, are at Level Red. Both Pitkin and Boulder are at Level Yellow.

Below are the September 17 CDPHE levels and one-week cumulative incidence rates of all 64 Colorado counties, ranked from lowest to highest. Boulder, Pitkin and San Miguel are in bold, to help you see which counties have higher incidence rates than theirs — 53 in Boulder's case, twenty in Pitkin's, and twelve in San Miguel's.

1. San Juan
Level Green
0

2. Crowley
Level Blue
49.7

3. Conejos
Level Blue
73.5

4. Bent
Level Blue
86.2

5. Sedgwick
Level Blue
89.7

6. Lake
Level Blue
99

7. Ouray
Level Yellow
121.6

8. Chaffee
Level Yellow
142.4

9. Archuleta
Level Yellow
142.8

10. Kiowa
Level Yellow
143.4

11. Boulder
Level Yellow
143.7

12. Jackson
Level Yellow
144.6

13. Dolores
Level Yellow
147.3

14. Yuma
Level Yellow
149.1

15. Montrose
Level Yellow
149.7

16. Montezuma
Level Yellow
149.9

17. Denver
Level Yellow
155.5

18. Cheyenne
Level Yellow
164.4

19. Park
Level Yellow
164.5

20. Jefferson
Level Yellow
167.7

21. Arapahoe
Level Yellow
172.3

22. Delta
Level Yellow
176.4

23. Custer
Level Yellow
177.9

24. Summit
Level Yellow
184

25. La Plata
Level Yellow
190.1

26. Adams
Level Yellow
194.3

27. Otero
Level Yellow
196.9

28. Broomfield
Level Yellow
197.8

29. Prowers
Level Yellow
198

30. Douglas
Level Yellow
201.1

31. Larimer
Level Yellow
226.1

32. Garfield
Level Yellow
227.7

33. Alamosa
Level Yellow
241

34. Hinsdale
Level Yellow
244.2

35. Clear Creek
Level Yellow
256.7

36. Mineral
Level Yellow
261.8

37. Logan
Level Yellow
264.7

38. Morgan
Level Yellow
265.7

39. Pueblo
Level Yellow
266.5

40. Eagle
Level Yellow
274.2

41. Las Animas
Level Yellow
276

42. Elbert
Level Yellow
277.3

43. Phillips
Level Yellow
280.5

44. Pitkin
Level Yellow
281.6

45. Washington
Level Yellow
295.2

46. Teller
Level Yellow
295.8

47. El Paso
Level Orange
303

48. Costilla
Level Orange
309.9

49. Fremont
Level Orange
310.6

50. Mesa
Level Orange
314.3

51. Weld
Level Orange
323.1

52. San Miguel
Level Orange
330.3

53. Gunnison
Level Orange
331.5

54. Grand
Level Orange
343.6

55. Rio Grande
Level Orange
347

56. Huerfano
Level Orange
350.2

57. Kit Carson
Level Orange
378.8

58. Saguache
Level Orange
381

59. Gilpin
Level Orange
386.2

60. Rio Blanco
Level Orange
444

61. Routt
Level Orange
475.6

62. Baca
Level Orange
478.1

63. Lincoln
Level Red
509.5

64. Moffat
Level Red
1,018.7

This post has been updated to include information about mask mandates in San Miguel and San Juan counties.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts