Polis Drops COVID-19 Mask Mandate Like a Hot Rock

Governor Jared Polis unmasked at a May 14 press conference.
Governor Jared Polis unmasked at a May 14 press conference.
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At a hastily scheduled May 14 press conference, Governor Jared Polis took obvious delight in announcing that Colorado will follow the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's lead and drop the state's mask mandate for anyone who's fully vaccinated against COVID-19, whether the setting is indoors or out.

Over the past year, for his appearances to discuss the pandemic, Polis has typically approached the microphone wearing a facial covering — but not today. His nose and mouth were exposed to the elements as he stated, as simply as possible, "If you're vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask."

This declaration followed around 24 hours of chaos prompted by the CDC's new guidelines, which contradicted many, if not most, of Colorado's mask-related rules — and officials are still scrambling to catch up. No official release on this latest edict has been issued yet by either Polis's office or the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Moreover, the CDPHE's mask guidance page still offers old advice regarding the use of facial coverings and links to the May 2 order that's suddenly obsolete.

As a result, the specifics of the new order are still a bit unclear. But officials have said that they'll align with the CDC's dictates, which contain a few caveats. Here's current information from the CDC that appears under the heading "What You Should Keep Doing:"

• You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses.
• If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested within 3 days of their flight (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.
• You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
• People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss their activities. They may need to keep taking all precautions to prevent COVID-19.

In Colorado, Polis notes, businesses, schools and the like can still require mask usage. But the state is stepping back from issuing such guidelines in order to focus on vaccinating as many people as possible as quickly as hypodermics can be filled. After all, according to the CDPHE, fewer than half of eligible Coloradans have been fully vaccinated thus far.

Continue to see Polis's press conference in its entirety:

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