Garfield County won’t mandate face masks |

Garfield County won’t mandate face masks

Silt Police Chief Mike Kite, and Code Enforcement Officer Brown help drop of gift bags during the town of Silt’s Birthday Brigade last Thursday. With the COVID-19 pandemic first repsonders are staying safe wearing personal protective equipment including masks.

Garfield County will not require residents to wear facemasks to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the board of commissioners said Monday.

Commission chairman John Martin said at the regular commissioners meeting Monday that he had received dozens of calls urging him to make masks mandatory county-wide, like Glenwood Springs had done last week.

“Thank you for your phone calls,” Martin said. “We are attuned to what’s going on, we are not trying to kill people or infect people. We are doing the very best, and the most we can possibly do by urging you to take precautions. But at this time, facemasks are not mandatory throughout Garfield County,” Martin said.

The Glenwood Springs city council approved an ordinance April 6 mandating residents wear masks when going out for essential activities.

“Let’s work together. Let’s not get hysterical or political; let’s just do what we can do to help the pandemic to subside.” —Commissioner John Martin

The city went beyond Gov. Jared Polis’ April 3 order, which strongly encouraged all Coloradans don face coverings when going out.

“The governor’s order is only urging people to do so, (it is) not a mandatory order,” Martin noted Monday.

“It’s been our policy to follow the governor’s orders, and we should continue to do that,” said commissioner Tom Jankovsky.

Jankovsky agreed that introducing an ordinance requiring masks was unneccessary.

“This is a large county, going from east of Carbondale all the way to the Utah line, and the majority of cases right now are in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Jankovsky said, adding that there were certainly cases in other parts of the county.

Of the 54 cases in the county that had been reported as of Monday morning, only three were in the hospital, Jankovsky said.

At Valley View Hospital, a total of 14 people had been treated for COVID-19, and 11 had been discharged as of Thursday. Grand River Hospital had not treated any patients for the new coronavirus as of April 9.

Jankovsky said he was also encouraged by the slow growth of new confirmed cases.

“This is a deadly disease, I understand that. However, the fact that we didn’t double the cases last week is a very positive sign,” Jankovsky said.

Those who do wear a mask should use it properly, Martin said.

For instance, “putting it off and on is risky, as every time you do you potentially introduce more virus that may be present on the front of the mask,” Martin said.

He said people should follow the state and federal guidance for wearing masks, and wash each mask with soap and water after each use.

“If you feel that you need to wear one, please do it properly,” Martin said.

Jankovsky said that wearing a mask also helps to protect workers at grocery stores, post offices and other essential functions.

“Let’s work together,” Martin said. “Let’s not get hysterical or political; let’s just do what we can do to help the pandemic to subside.”

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