Expert says Coloradans shouldn’t ditch masks entirely


Dr. Ricardo González-Fisher of Servicios de la Raza talked to 9NEWS about whether or not it’s safe to get rid of masks altogether on airplanes and public spaces.

COLORADO, USA — Despite warnings from some Colorado medical experts about possible increases in COVID-19 cases, Denver International Airport and the Regional Transportation District recently announced they would be eliminating the requirement for masks at the airport and on RTD vehicles and properties. The announcement followed a judge’s ruling that struck down the federal mask mandate covering air travel.

> Video above: Dr. Ricardo González-Fisher of Servicios de la Raza joined 9NEWS Watch host Chris Bianchi to tell us if it’s safe to get rid of masks altogether on airplanes and public spaces.

According to Vanessa Bernal with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the state is seeing a slight increase in the seven-day moving average positivity rate. It’s sitting currently at 4.63%. That percentage is higher than in previous weeks. 

The numbers for the past week in Colorado, according to Bernal, are as follows: 

  • 307 new cases reported 
  • 28 new deaths among reported cases 
  • 77 people hospitalized, of which 60% are not vaccinated 
  • 11 new hospitalizations 

Bernal said among the Hispanic community, the vaccination rate continues to rise slowly, increasing to 39.83%. That’s the percentage for people who report their race and ethnicity.

“We know that there are some people that don’t report their race and ethnicity, so there is a model that we follow, in order to see, to estimate, how many people from the Hispanic community are vaccinated, and that number is 47.95%,” she said.

The model percentage that is used by the state “is based on the zip code where people were vaccinated, because ethnicity is often left blank,” Bernal previously said.

Dr. Ricardo González-Fisher of Servicios de la Raza agreed with Bernal and said that as cases are increasing in Colorado, people must use common sense when it comes to the wearing of masks on planes or public spaces.

“Wherever we go, half of the people are not going to be vaccinated,” he said.

Coloradans should still keep in mind that one out of two people have not been fully vaccinated, Gonzalez-Fisher said. 

Gonzalez-Fisher said that from the point of view of personal protection or the protection of loved ones, “it is very important to continue wearing the mask,” on planes or when in an enclosed space with many people. 

If Coloradans are sitting in closed areas where they have to wait for long periods and are surrounded by a lot of people, like at the DMV or the consulate, Gonzalez-Fisher said they should wear masks. The same would apply in shopping centers, he said.

“The problem with just following mandates instead of following common sense, is more political than real, so I would urge people to continue using their common sense in this,” he said.

“I think it’s better to be protected now that the cases are rising,” he said. 

Servicios De La Raza, the state’s largest nonprofit serving Latinos, will continue to offer their vaccination clinic every Tuesday from 4-8 p.m. at the organization, which is located at 3131 W. 14th Ave. 

On Thursday and Friday mornings, they will also hold mobile clinics at the Mexican consulate located at 5350 Leetsdale Dr. #100. from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

No appointments are necessary and no form of identification is required. 

CDPHE released the following statement about masks: 

Like in other public settings, Coloradans should assess their individual risk factors and make decisions accordingly. If you or your family member are at high risk for severe illness, wearing a mask can offer greater protection in public indoor spaces. The CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels can be a helpful tool, especially for individuals who are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, including older adults and people of any age with underlying medical conditions. The CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time. In some states and countries, wearing masks is still required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep others safe, so traveling with a mask is always a good idea.

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