Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) - Denver is implementing a new indoor mask mandate as COVID-19 cases continue to put a strain on the city's hospital system, Mayor Michael Hancock announced Tuesday.
The order will go into place Wednesday and will be effective until January 3, 2022. It follows a similar order that was issued by the Tri-County Health Department Monday which impacts Arapahoe and Adams Counties.
Anyone over the age of two will be required to wear a mask indoors, according to Denver's order. Exceptions can be granted for individuals under the age of two, or for those who show proof of their vaccination status before entering a business.
The order can be reinstated after January 3 if Denver's ICU bed capacity reaches 10% or greater for two consecutive weeks. Other counties like Jefferson, Boulder, Larimer, and Pitkin have issued similar orders.
"I know it's disappointing that the decisions of some are impacting the lives of Denver's vaccinated residents, and I share in that frustration," Hancock said. "I know a lot of work has gone into where we are. But this is the situation: either wear a mask or get vaccinated. It's that simple."
According to the latest data from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, the city's hospitalization rate has increased significantly since the middle of October. At the time, Denver reported a daily hospitalization rate of 67 individuals. As of November 15, that total has grown to more than 129.
Meanwhile, the number of people getting vaccinated in Denver has steadily declined. As of November 20, the city's seven-day moving average for vaccinations stood at 1,229, down from its high of 10,319 in April.
Mayor Hancock said this trend is putting a "dangerous strain" on the city's hospital system which could cause a "collapse" if it is not contained.