Health and Science

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis orders statewide mask mandate

Key Points
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced a statewide mask mandate Thursday, requiring face coverings be worn in public spaces indoors to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The executive order comes after the state reported a total of 38,155 confirmed cases as of Tuesday.
  • Polis' announcement follows a similar order from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey Wednesday.
Johanna Ramirez works in her grocery store in Fort Lupton, Colorado, where she is concerned that not enough customers are taking precautions, like wearing masks, to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), April 23, 2020.
Keith Coffman | Reuters

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis joined a growing list of state leaders to order people to wear masks in public spaces indoors to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"This is a responsible, bipartisan, common sense step to take," Polis said during a news conference at the Boettcher Mansion in Jefferson County, Colorado, on Thursday. "We have a choice in Colorado, either more mask wearing and more attention to social distancing or more damage to our economy and loss of life."

The mask order takes effect at midnight for at least 30 days and requires people to cover their faces while at public places indoors where they cannot maintain a distance of at least 6 feet. There are exceptions to the guideline such as children who are 9 years old or under and people with certain medical conditions and disabilities. This mandate also doesn't apply in situations where people are eating, drinking, exercising, partaking in religious worship or speaking to a televised audience.

The executive order comes after the state reported a total of 38,155 confirmed cases as of Tuesday. The seven-day average of daily new cases in Colorado has surged nearly 46% as of Wednesday compared with the prior week, according to CNBC's analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The number of hospitalizations has also steadily increased in Colorado over the past months and the rate of infection has accelerated, according to Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist. 

"We need to take this very seriously. Our lives depend on it. Our economy depends on it," said Polis during the conference. "It's clear that at this point in time, this is the least bad of the options that we have at our disposal."

Colorado is among several states that recently issued a mask mandate as governors continue to grapple with coronavirus outbreaks. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced a statewide mask order on Wednesday to contain the spread of the virus.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also issued an executive order earlier this month requiring residents across the state to wear a face covering in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive Covid-19 cases. Abbott also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.