As counties across Colorado begin to lift their mask mandates due to fewer COVID-19 cases, two questions emerge: When and how will the UCCS community be affected?
El Paso County is currently in Level Yellow and will need to reach a Level Green in order for the mask mandate to be changed. As a result, it is challenging to predict exactly when El Paso County will lift its mask mandate.
According to Stephanie Hanenberg, the assistant vice chancellor for Health and Wellness at UCCS, the UCCS Cabinet is still discussing whether masks will be required on campus after the county mandate is lifted.
Hanenberg explained that UCCS has been in contact with individuals at the El Paso County Health Department to monitor COVID-19 cases throughout the county.
Hanenberg explained that UCCS will continue to be vigilant in tracking and tracing COVID-19 cases in the community after the mask mandate is lifted.
She also predicted that, moving into the summer, COVID-19 hotspots will likely remain the same because private parties and indoor gatherings are where the majority of the UCCS community’s COVID-19 cases originate.
Level Green counties no longer require masks in public places such as supermarkets and gyms. These counties have a seven day COVID-19 positivity rate of 0-35 cases for every 100,000 people.
According to the Colorado COVID-19 Dial Dashboard, some Level Green counties across Colorado include Moffat, Alamosa, San Juan and Rio Blanco.
Level Green is the lowest level of COVID-19 cases, with the next lowest levels being Level Blue and Level Yellow. Many of Colorado’s counties are still in Level Blue or Yellow, so masks are still required in public places for these areas.
Gov. Polis has several stipulations on the mask mandate being lifted in Level Green counties. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, once a county reaches Level Green, masks will still be required in “schools (including extracurricular activities), child care centers, indoor children’s camps, public-facing state government facilities, emergency medical and other healthcare settings, personal services and limited healthcare settings as defined by Public Health Order (PHO) 20-36, congregate care facilities, prisons, and jails.”
As seen throughout this pandemic, guidelines change as more advanced technology emerges and cases decrease.
Moving forward, Hanenberg provided advice for the UCCS community to stay safe and healthy.
“We encourage people that are eligible for the COVID vaccine to consider getting it for their protection and to help build herd immunity, to continue practicing good hand hygiene with washing hands and using hand sanitizer, continue practicing coughing and sneezing into their sleeves or a tissue and immediately cleaning hands, avoid coming to campus when exhibiting any COVID like symptoms, and continuing to monitor public health guidance for recommendations on social distancing, capacity limits, and following quarantine and isolation guidance for positive cases and exposures to minimize spread,” Hanenberg said.
It remains uncertain exactly when and how UCCS will be affected by lifted mask mandates, but faculty such as Hanenberg are putting plans in place to ensure the safety of the UCCS community.