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Larimer County reinstates mask mandate

graphic depicting a satellite beacon with the text "Breaking News" in all caps
(Graphic Illustration by Malia Berry | The Collegian)

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment announced Friday a new mask mandate for all public spaces. The mandate will begin Oct. 20 at noon, according to the press release.

The mandate requires face coverings in indoor public spaces for all people aged three years or older. The order does not list any requirements for outdoor settings and gives 10 exemptions, including for people who cannot medically tolerate a facial covering; are “hearing-impaired or otherwise disabled;” are seated at a restaurant; or are inside a Vaccine Verified Facility. 


“Larimer County hospitals are being overburdened and we cannot allow this to continue indefinitely,” said county Public Health Director Tom Gonzales in the press release. “Our hospitals need relief so they can swiftly and adequately treat all urgent medical needs in our community.”

Larimer County is issuing the mandate due to the rising levels of COVID-19 patients in area hospitals and the overcrowding of hopsital ICUs. The press release said hospitals have been operating at or above 100% of “the level of customary care” for the last four weeks, and the rate at which county residents are getting vaccinated has decreased. 

Masks will help slow virus transmission and provide relief to local hospitals, the press release said. 

The health order is to remain in effect until the county reaches four metrics outlines by LCDHE for 21 days or is “extended, rescinded, superseded or amended in writing by the Larimer County Public Health Director,” according to the press release. 

In order for the mask mandate to be removed, Larimer County needs to have a 7-day case rate per 100,000 residents of fewer than 300; a 7-day test positivity rate of less than 10%; fewer than 65 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the county; and ICU utilization under 90% of usual levels.

In the press release, Gonzales said vaccination is the best way out of the pandemic, however, 35% of the county population is not vaccinated. 40% of ICU patients in Larimer County have COVID-19 and 90% of those patients are not vaccinated.

“Universal mask-wearing is the next best prevention tool we have to reduce the strain on our hospitals,” Gonzales said.

Serena Bettis can be reached at or on Twitter @serenaroseb.

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About the Contributor
Serena Bettis, Editor in Chief
Serena Bettis is your 2022-23 editor in chief and is in her final year studying journalism and political science. In her three years at The Collegian, Bettis has also been a news reporter, copy editor, news editor and content managing editor, and she occasionally takes photos, too. When Bettis was 5, her family moved from Iowa to a tiny town northwest of Fort Collins called Livermore, Colorado, before eventually moving to Fort Collins proper. When she was 8 years old, her dad enrolled at Colorado State University as a nontraditional student veteran, where he found his life's passion in photojournalism. Although Bettis' own passion for journalism did not stem directly from her dad, his time at CSU and with The Collegian gave her the motivation to bite down on her fear of talking to strangers and find The Collegian newsroom on the second day of classes in 2019. She's never looked back since. Considering that aforementioned fear, Bettis is constantly surprised to be where she is today. However, thanks to the supportive learning environment at The Collegian and inspiring peers, Bettis has not stopped chasing her teenage dream of being a professional journalist. Between working with her section editors, coordinating news stories between Rocky Mountain Student Media departments and coaching new reporters, Bettis gets to live that dream every day. When she's not in the newsroom or almost falling asleep in class, you can find Bettis working in the Durrell Marketplace and Café or outside gazing at the beauty that is our campus (and running inside when bees are nearby). This year, Bettis' goals for The Collegian include continuing its trajectory as a unique alt-weekly newspaper, documenting the institutional memory of the paper to benefit students in years to come and fostering a sense of community and growth both inside the newsroom and through The Collegian's published work. Bettis would like to encourage anyone with story ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns or comments to reach out to her at

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