For Immediate Release
August 23, 2021
As schools around the metro Denver region begin a new year, the Metro Denver Partnership for Health (MDPH) calls on all residents to work together to move the region forward, keep kids in school and businesses open, reduce unnecessary illness and deaths, protect our hospitals and health systems, and help communities thrive again.
All public health departments in the metro area issued orders this month requiring face coverings for youth in schools, recognizing many are at risk for COVID-19 infection because they are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise all children to wear masks in school. Children’s Hospital Colorado also advises all youth to wear masks indoors, noting that masks are not harmful to children’s mental health and that kids getting back to school safely – in masks – and connecting with other youth and adults will benefit children’s mental health. In-person learning benefits children, allows parents to get to work, and is a cornerstone of healthy communities.
“Vaccination is the primary strategy we must use to get through COVID-19 as a region,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department and co-chair of MDPH. “But we cannot rely on vaccines alone to move us forward, especially since not all residents are eligible to be vaccinated yet and some residents need a third dose to be better-protected. We must protect our most vulnerable residents. If we stay vigilant about face coverings while indoors, good ventilation, hand hygiene, and staying home when sick, we can keep our schools and businesses fully open and in person while we continue to get more residents vaccinated.”
Vaccines remain very effective in protecting against severe complications of the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19. Widespread vaccination is key to keeping health systems and hospitals from being overwhelmed and preventing unnecessary deaths and significant illness. Admissions at metro area hospitals are on the rise, impacting available health care resources and capacity needed to respond to COVID-19 as well as other respiratory illnesses and routine care needs.
Vaccines are the best way to get through the pandemic, allowing the region’s economic recovery to continue and preventing restrictions on businesses and gatherings. Vaccinations are free (no insurance coverage required), available to anyone 12 years of age or older, and can be obtained through community pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics (https://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine/where-you-can-get-vaccinated).
“Vaccines are working. Cases among vaccinated persons are uncommon, and the vaccines still provide high-level protection from hospitalization and death,” said Bill Burman, MD, Executive Director of Denver Public Health. “We want to work with our cities, employers, schools, and community organizations to get our region fully vaccinated.”
MDPH is taking steps as a region to advance health and reduce the spread of COVID-19 for all residents, including promoting vaccinations and strongly recommending universal face covering for ages 2 and up while indoors during this time of substantial transmission, since even the vaccinated can transmit the delta variant. Denver has adopted requirements for vaccines among county employees to promote health and safety. Tri-County Health Department is also requiring vaccines for employees and contractors. Many partner health systems in the metro region are also requiring their employees to be vaccinated.
“Let’s act together as a region,” said Dawn Comstock, Ph.D,, Executive Director of Jefferson County Public Health. “Each of us – as parents, educators, employers, faith leaders, community members – can play a role today in reducing the harms of COVID, helping kids stay in school, and keeping our economies thriving. Masking up, getting vaccinated and asking others to do the same – these steps will make a difference if we take them together.”
MDPH is led by six public health agencies serving the seven-county Denver metro area: Boulder County Public Health, Broomfield Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, Denver Public Health, Jefferson County Public Health, and Tri-County Health Department, serving Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties. MDPH’s work impacts nearly 3 million Coloradans — 60% of the state’s population — who live in this region. MDPH is supported and staffed by the Colorado Health Institute (CHI). More information can be found on CHI’s website at https://colo.health/MDPH.
Contact for the Colorado Health Institute: Kristi Arellano, Managing Director of Marketing and Communications | email@example.com | 720.382.7080