Denver Mayor Hancock announces face masks are here to stay for ‘forseeable future’

Denver resident Emmanuel Kamabela is tested for the coronavirus on June 11, 2020, in Denver. Alayna Alvarez, Colorado Politics

Denver Mayor Hancock held a press conference on Wednesday morning to provide an update on the city’s coronavirus response efforts.

The meeting marked the third month since Hancock issued stay-at-home orders on March 23, when the city and county’s confirmed coronavirus cases mark the highest of any county in the state.

“We now sit on the 20-yard line today,” Hancock announced. The positivity rate of COVID-19 cases is “stabilizing and staying low” at a level of 3%, and “hospitalizations continue to trend downward.”

Denver is continuing to ramp up its testing and contact tracing efforts and for the last two weeks has conducting a daily average of 1,133 tests, which he said is necessary for a population of Denver’s size.

“I can’t underscore enough how critical it is that we keep meeting this mark,” and he encouraged the community to get tested for free at the Pepsi Center, the largest COVID-19 testing site in the state.

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The city is only on the 20-yard line, he said, “because we’re all seeing what’s happening in other states, especially neighboring states to Colorado, with dramatic rises in their positivity or positive counts because they didn’t take the steps that our city and our state took at the start of this pandemic.”

That’s why the face mask requirement will be here to stay for the “foreseeable future,” he said.

Hancock stressed that it was not a political move, but “good common sense.”

Bob McDonald, the city’s public health director, said Denver has seen “a little bit of an uptick” in the last week, which could “perhaps” be result of less physical distancing as more restaurants and businesses continue to reopen.

Nevertheless, McDonald said, he’s not seeing anything out of the normal “ebb and flow” of cases that happen over time.

“I think really what we need to look at is what happens over the next seven days,” he said. “Does it continue to rise or does it level off?”

There have been at least 6,652 cases of COVID-19 and 305 related deaths in Denver, according to the latest data from Denver Public Health.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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