Glenwood Springs City Council extends mandatory mask order indefinitely
Glenwood Springs’ face-covering order is slated to remain in place indefinitely, but penalties for not wearing a mask have been reduced.
During the Glenwood City Council meeting Thursday, councilors voted — despite numerous public comments in opposition — to extend an order requiring people to wear face coverings at public locations indoors and public outdoors areas where social distancing is not possible.
“Having this conversation every 30 days — when nothing has changed — feels like a massive waste of time,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said.
The council first put the order in place April 7, then extended the order on April 30. It was set to expire Thursday.
If the Centers for Disease Control or Colorado Department for Public Health and Environment issue new guidance suggesting masks are harmful to the wearer’s health or no longer effective at slowing COVID-19 infection rates, Godes said the council would immediately call a special session to rescind the order.
Several members of the public called into the council meeting, which was hosted on Zoom and broadcast live on YouTube, to oppose extending the order.
“The council and mayor should rethink the masks,” Monica Wolny said. “This has gone on for way too long. I think there’s more research that needs to be done, and I think we need to make it optional.”
Wolny, Audrey Burgio, Jon Zalinski and a woman from New Castle questioned the science behind wearing masks as a measure to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Until the council can provide irrefutable, peer-reviewed research published in a reputable medical journal that conclusively shows masking healthy or asymptomatic individuals is safe, and prevents the spread of illness,” Burgio said, “I demand an immediate suspension of the mask order pending this information.”
Burgio said Godes provided an article summarizing the science behind wearing a mask, but slammed the article’s publisher for being “liberal” and not a medical journal.
The CDC recommends wearing a facial covering to slow the spread of COVID-19, cites medical sources supporting their recommendations and offers abundant information detailing how to use, clean and fabricate facial coverings at http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.
After hearing public comments, Councilor Rick Voorhees made a motion to extend the mask order until a COVID-19 vaccine is made widely available, herd immunity is achieved in Colorado or the council decides to revisit the order. Mayor Pro Tem Shelley Kaup seconded the motion.
“I can appreciate people not wanting to wear a mask,” Voorhees said. “But we’re still in a pandemic. One of the reasons I would say we have such a low case load is the face covering mandate.”
Councilor Tony Hershey said people should have the option to wear a mask, but it shouldn’t be mandated.
“I agree we can’t keep revisiting,” Hershey said. “I would support getting rid of this at this time.”
In addition to extending the order, Voorhees’ motion also lowered the penalty for not wearing a mask from $1,000 to $100 and removed the 364 days in jail that could accompany a non-compliance citation.
Prior to the meeting, Glenwood Springs Police Chief Joseph Deras said his officers issued several warnings since the order was issued, but all instances were met with immediate compliance, resulting in zero mask citations issued to date.
The council narrowly approved extending the mask order 4-3 with councilors Hershey, Steve Davis and Charlie Willman voting against.
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Colorado’s House of Representatives on Monday passed House Bill 1232, which aims to provide a lower-cost, higher-quality health insurance option for the individual and small group markets on the state’s health insurance exchange.