Masks in Colorado?
September 20, 2021 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Hello Hive Mind! To our beloved residents of the Centennial State... what is the deal with Covid related masking in Colorado right now?

Partner and I are starting 3rd full day of a vacation here and we can count on two hands the number of people we have seen masked. That probably includes counting us. This is not hyperbole.

Before we decided to come to Colorado, we noticed CoVid seems to be relatively well maintained compared to other parts of the country and the vaccination rate is 10% better than Texas, where we are coming from.

But... practically no masking at all? How is this even working out? Is it considered "safe" to be unmasked" (And, yes, we are still masking more for those we interact with then ourselves...)

For the record, so far we have been in Canon City, Cripple Creek, Salida and a couple of small places where the population is measured in double to triple digits. I have also not searched for previous questions about this, because vacation. Mods, delete if need be and I'll search later.

As always, thanks y'all!

(Oops. Forgot to mention, I lived in Colorado for about a decade and have traveled it extensively, so I have a general feeling about the population, albeit dated a quarter century.)
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd to Travel & Transportation around Colorado (17 answers total)
Could it be geographic political divides? The populations of the places you listed are all 16k people or less. In WI (which has an overall population similar to CO) things start leaning real conservative (and hence maskless) once you get under the 50k. Maybe the same is true for Colorado? It may not be Colorado specific but rather the size of the places you’re visiting.
posted by brook horse at 6:04 AM on September 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Not going to thread sit, but I should have been more explicit about that. Being Texans, we are aware of ridiculously horrible masking policies. For example, the governor has said no state funded institution (i.e. school districts) can impose masking. The state votes red (see: Gov. Abbot, Sen. Cruz and Cornyn), and all the urban areas (Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas [not so much Ft. Worth]) are blue.

But, even living in an area that is largely conservative, there is at least SOME masking... Like, I would say our area is around 70%? I am literally (true definition of literal) saying we have seen less than 10 people masked since we left the airport, where it was federally mandated.

And, one of the small places we went to was full on hippy. Granted, they are totally in the middle of nowhere and almost certainly know each other and almost certainly don't nearly have the CoVid risk of other areas, so I really exlcude them from the mix.

But, yeah, I'll be quiet now. Should have added the masking stuff from Texas in the original question.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 6:22 AM on September 20, 2021

I was in Boulder in mid-July for 5 days and did not wear a mask anywhere from the moment I left the airport until returning to the airport. I'm fully vaxxed and was mostly outdoors or among other people who I knew were also vaccinated. The only people I saw with masks were children, and even then it was very few.

Coming from NYC, it didn't feel that much different at all except for when going inside shops, where most people here wear masks, whether required or not. It was a nice return to something resembling normalcy. However, since then cases in Colorado have been spiking, so if I were to go back soon I'd definitely mask up inside again, and when I spoke to my mom yesterday (the reason for visiting in July) she mentioned that she's back to wearing masks inside as well.
posted by Fuego at 6:33 AM on September 20, 2021

Best answer: I can’t speak for Colorado specifically, but based on various places I’ve visited across the US and Canada over the past year, I’ve noticed that masking is heavily correlated with population density / town size, regardless of political affiliation. Smaller rural towns just don’t tend to feel as threatened by COVID and don’t mask as much, even in regions with otherwise high rates of masking.

I’ve noticed this even in Quebec, which officially has a mask mandate for all indoor public spaces, but I’ve seen plenty of people not following it in the small towns (whereas in Montreal, everyone masks up all the time).
posted by mekily at 6:33 AM on September 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

My partner and I were in CO (Estes Park) in late August - masking in shops felt like about 50%, outdoors, virtually no one (including us -- we're vaxxed). But there was a breeze and we literally spent 90% of our time outside.

LOTS of unmasked indoor dining though which is a bridge too far for me, personally.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:50 AM on September 20, 2021

In Denver, it's kind of all over the map as to masks. Where I work, we have a hard and fast masks at all times rule (Library at a large university campus). I see many people in masks all over town though the opposite is also true. As to the maskless dining, I have to wonder, how you do it with a mask on? I find the whole dining thing to be difficult tbf, and prefer to order take out. I think part of the problem is the Mayor, Governor, and state government are very business friendly dems and are loath to mandate mask rules for fear they'll get pushback from the business community. Honestly, we should be more concerned with the medical community and what they're telling us. Good luck on your vacation.
posted by evilDoug at 7:48 AM on September 20, 2021

Pitkin county just reinstated a mask mandate a few days ago. It’s only indoors though, and many restaurants here have lots of outside seating. Some restaurants don’t have enough and have a wait— I assume for outside tables since many inside ones are empty when walking by. Waitstaff are masked.

This time of year it is very pleasant to be outdoors. I haven’t seen much masking since I got here, but a lot of that is that I have barely been inside except when I am in my own room. Since the mandate reinstated, it does seem people are generally masked indoors.

I suppose if you’re spending lots of time indoors, then that’s different. I wonder if the counties on your path will reinstate mask mandates soon too, and if that will be followed.
posted by nat at 7:50 AM on September 20, 2021

In more rural areas of Colorado people are more conservative and so more anti-mask, and still tend to have the idea that COVID is a city thing and won't affect them. It's a thing.
posted by medusa at 7:54 AM on September 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hello from Colorado Springs! So yeah, masking varies widely here across the state. There's certainly alignment with political divides, and up there in Fremont and Teller counties it falls pretty conservative. You're also in lower population density areas where folks are more spread out in their day-to-day lives, so that plays into it as well. We are still getting gobs of tourist traffic so many of the folks you'll see are from other places and therefore following whatever risk profile and custom they use back home. (And people who are venturing out for recreational travel now tend to be more comfortable with risk, so there's a level of self-selection.)

Near my home, right down the hill from where you are, I do see more masking now than there was earlier this summer, especially now as covid rates are rising again dramatically. At my grocery store near the more progressive downtown area, everyone is masked. People are mostly masked going into the Target on the south side (although I haven't been inside myself). I'd say maybe 8 out of 10 customers/workers are masked at the pharmacy north of downtown, and the main pharmacist who went maskless throughout the pandemic is masking up, or does when the mask isn't dangling from his ear. But driving by the more crowded bars downtown at night, I've never seen anyone wearing a mask in the line to get indoors, and they're packed with younger folks.

Outdoors, people are always maskless.
posted by mochapickle at 7:59 AM on September 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

concur w mochapickle. also, howdy neighbor! we must live within a mile of each other.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:07 AM on September 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

We experienced something similar in July. We wore masks anyway while indoors, as we were traveling and it’s habit. From our extended group, several who went native (maskless) had a head cold a few days after we got back.
posted by childofTethys at 12:20 PM on September 20, 2021

I'm in Estes Park now. Have been inside one shop, where we were the only people masked. We're eating picnic style (the weather is amazing! why would you not!) but indoor restaurants seem to be doing thriving business.

Have spent almost all time hiking, where no one is masked (including ourselves) except for the RMNP shuttle buses where masks are required.
posted by basalganglia at 2:10 PM on September 20, 2021

The Colorado Dept of Public Health requires masks only for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people. But no place that I've been there requires proof of vaccination, so I think a lot of Colorado people are just feeling invulnerable and not wearing them.
posted by jasper411 at 5:01 PM on September 20, 2021

Following up on my comment, 70% masking in a conservative town in WI would never happen. I can also count on one hand the number of people masking when I go more anywhere s’more than 15 minutes from a big city. Masking IN the big liberal cities is still only around 70%. So I don’t know what’s going on that your red area in Texas is doing better than a blue area in Wisconsin, but there’s definitely some significant differences across states that aren’t tracking as we might expect. That’s probably throwing your calculations about Colorado off as well.
posted by brook horse at 8:55 PM on September 20, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you all for your answers! (And, keep them coming, if you want!) Yet another thing I forgot to mention is that I spent about a decade living in Colorado (part of why we are doing anniversary here) and traveled all over this beautiful state, so I do have a little sense of political leanings, etc. although they are definitely dated.

Admittedly, the majority of our activities on this trip have been outdoors and I factored that in to the question before I asked it. But, after days of being here, literally less than 10 people wearing a mask? I am not saying less than 10 PERCENT. I am saying actual number of people.

Add to that, after I asked this question, we went out to eat and our server said, "sorry, we hope you're not uncomfortable. We don't mask here in Colorado." as we masked since we walked inside a building. She was unique in her own right, but that still has been the impression.

I do appreciate all the answers and I do believe in the much smaller populations (I'll even throw Salida into that one) almost certainly have a tendency to feel that CoVid is not in their community because of size and isolation and outdoor activities, etc.

I'll also admit we have been (very slightly) more relaxed with our usual masking protocol seeing everyone else not even having one in hand, so I could see a certain herd mentality about the situation.

I wouldn't have even asked the question if I would have seen even 10 or 20% of people with masks.

(Vacation has been fantastic, by the way. Today is Pueblo and Westcliffe. Westcliffe to see the other side of the Sangre De Cristos and let the spouse see the Milky Way for the first time. Tomorrow is unknown, followed by Garden of the Gods/Pikes Peak Thursday unless mochapickle and j_curiouser have better ideas for colo springs. We will also be visiting Independent Records just because.)

eta: mentioned mochapickle and j_curiouser merely because they identified as colo springs ppl. always happy for other suggestions... esp. since we have a"free" day tmrw.

by the way, all y'all are the best!
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 5:54 AM on September 22, 2021

Denver-metro-area resident here, and our large workplace has had a mandatory masking requirement since the pandemic started (except for about a month-and-a-half in June/July after vaccinations were easily accessible and before Delta became a concern) so I and everyone I work with wear masks all day. Some coworkers have differing opinions about it, but the fact is we're still masked until further notice.

It's only a requirement for the employees -- we trust our guests to wear a mask if unvaccinated, but whether or not they do, well, who knows? This is the hospitality industry, so we get everyone from all over with various opinions on the pandemic and vaccinations. Maybe a quarter of our guests wear masks (very few kids wear a mask at all, it seems). Some of our large groups have required it of their attendees, so some weeks I'll see more people in masks than I would normally.

While I didn't wear a mask in public for a couple of glorious months this summer after being fully vaccinated, I personally have returned to masking up when I go into a store. I see usually a few folk also masked up -- not counting employees, which seem to be about 50/50. I've noticed that the masked numbers are trending upwards, since I no longer feel like the masked-minority. I assume it's less about unvaccinated people needing to wear a mask and more people like myself, already vaccinated but concerned about Delta.

I've only gone out to eat in-person twice this year. (We have done lots of take-out, though!)

Once was in Denver, during those aforementioned glorious summer months and the tables were distanced and our server wore a mask, and we wore masks entering/leaving even though we were vaccinated (but vax numbers were still a little low, so it was out of respect for everyone else). The other time was about a month ago in Colorado Springs, and it wasn't my first choice but it was a group family decision. Half of the wait staff wore masks, though few patrons did when entering/leaving.

These are all indoor situations in urban areas. Outdoors, I think the general consensus is a mask isn't necessary.
posted by paisley sheep at 4:08 PM on September 22, 2021

Another data point: I live in Boulder county where we have an indoor mask mandate currently. Even in the somewhat more conservative Longmont, almost everyone has followed it from what I've seen. I agree with the folks that say what you're seeing may be population density related. I'm curious to hear what masking rates you've seen in Colorado Springs proper.
posted by zsazsa at 11:39 AM on September 23, 2021

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