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Keep those face coverings at the ready. They’ll be needed for at least another month to come.

The Boulder County Board of Health has approved an extension of the Boulder County Public Health order requiring face coverings for every person older than 12 years old, whenever in public anywhere in Boulder County that social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained.

It’s to remain the law of the land through June 30.

The masking extension comes as county health officials have documented two more deaths due to COVID-19, bringing the county’s tally to 58. Both of the newest deaths involved residents of long-term care facilities, described as being in their 80s and 90s, according to county health spokesperson Chana Goussetis. To date, just over 79% of the county’s coronavirus dead have been people who had lived in long-term care centers.

“Our team conducted informal observations in Boulder County communities and distributed a survey to businesses to get a sense of how well the order is being followed,” Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director, said in a statement.

“Although we saw many instances where social distancing of six feet or more was not being followed, we are seeing high rates of compliance with the face covering order, especially in municipalities that also have a masking order. Wearing face coverings in public is one way for our community to help stop the spread while allowing us to reopen our economy.”

Zayach emphasized that maintaining six feet or more distance between each other, in conjunction with masking and handwashing, is still the primary way to prevent the spread of this disease.

A news release stated that monitoring by health officials has showed “very high compliance” with mask wearing in small and large business environments in Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette and Louisville. But significant volumes of shoppers were also seen at a variety of large stores, sometimes making it harder conditions for shoppers to maintain six feet of distance from one another.

The county’s mask order provides increased protection for people in those situations.

Boulder County Public Health medical officer Christopher Urbina addressed concerns that some people have raised that perhaps wearing masks is somehow unsafe.

“There is no evidence that cloth masks lead to a buildup of carbon dioxide or impair a healthy person’s ability to inhale oxygen causing danger to the wearer,” Urbina said in a statement. “Both of these gases can easily pass thru or around the mask. Occasionally, a person with chronic lung disease or asthma may experience difficulty breathing and can usually tolerate a mask for only short period of time.”

The order issued Friday provides for some exceptions, including children 12 and younger, people working alone in an office, anyone whose health would be negatively impacted by wearing a face covering — including mental health impacts — and first responders under certain circumstances.

In cases where local municipalities also have face covering orders in place, the most restrictive order takes precedence. Boulder officials also noted that the current statewide safer-at-home protocol mandates face coverings for some personal services. Haircuts would be one example.

“I can’t stress enough that the responsibility to stop the spread of this disease is yours, mine, and everybody’s,” Zayach said. “…We want people to take responsibility. The examples we saw this week with the Boulder Creek gatherings are exactly what we don’t want to do — that is not taking personal responsibility. That is putting our community at risk; our businesses at risk.”

Boulder officials earlier this week closed down the park land and the creek bed north of the Boulder Creek Path from the eastern boundary of the park to the western end of the city, due to rampant flouting of current public health orders, which included a near-total absence of masks among hundreds of partying young people.

Also on Friday, the county’s number of confirmed or possible new cases of the coronavirus climbed by 22, to a total of 899. So far, 343 people have recovered from the illness, and 155 have required hospitalization. County epidemiologists have 171 disease investigations ongoing.

At the state level, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Friday reported that deaths across Colorado are up to 1,324 with 4,082 people hospitalized across 60 of the state’s 64 counties. There have been outbreaks reported at 260 of Colorado’s long-term care facilities. To date, 23,487 Coloradans have tested positive or probable for COVID-19.

The state’s statistics were compiled from data collected through Thursday.

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