Larimer County’s Department of Health & Environment will eliminate the COVID-19 mask requirements effective Feb. 12.
The county will join a few other Front Range counties that also are lowering masks in coming days. Broomfield will drop its requirement Thursday as noted in the original health order issued in January. Denver also will drop its requirement Thursday this week; Adams and Arapahoe counties will eliminate the requirement on Friday.
Boulder County continues its requirements. Weld County did not have a mask requirement.
“Due to improving COVID-19 conditions, Larimer County health officials have announced that the Ninth Amended Public Health Order requiring masks in public indoor spaces will expire Saturday, Feb. 12,” the health department wrote on its website. “This timeline will allow for the Omicron wave to further retreat and gives families, local businesses, and schools time to prepare for the transition.”
The county said that declining case counts and hospitalizations, high levels of community immunity and access to rapid home tests and high quality masks fed into the rationale for the end of the mask mandate.
“What we’ve learned from Alpha, Delta, and Omicron is that each variant is very different,” Tom Gonzales, Larimer County public health director, said in a written statement. “While the use of face masks in crowded indoor settings has been an important mitigation measure over the past two years, I believe it is the right time to end the requirements based on the positive trends we’re seeing with the Omicron variant.”
The county still recommends use of masks in crowded indoor areas to limit spread of the disease.
The department reported that “only 20% of those in the ICUs in Larimer County are COVID positive. During the Delta wave, more than 50% of the ICU was often made up of COVID patients. … Vaccinated and boosted individuals continue to experience the greatest reduction in the risk of hospitalization and death.”
About 78% of the county population has Omicron-specific immunity, the health department wrote on its website. Those who gained immunity from experience with the disease are less likely than vaccinated residents to have long-term immunity, but “it will likely last at least three months, providing a bridge to the warmer months of the year when COVID transmission is less of a risk,” the report said.
Businesses are not required to remove mask mandates and the county said that some businesses, schools and other entities may choose to continue to require them. Also, masks still will be required in:
- Shelters for people experiencing homelessness.
- Prisons, jails and community corrections programs and facilities.
- Emergency medical and other health care settings (including hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, urgent care centers, clinics, doctors’ offices, and non-urgent care medical structures).
- Public transit services.