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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When it comes to COVID-19 in Colorado, the state says you're essentially on your own.

Federal, state and local governments across the country are embracing mask requirements or mandatory coronavirus vaccinations.

  • But so far Colorado leaders are not following suit.

The big picture: Under new guidance released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, masks should be worn indoors by everyone — vaccinated or not — in areas with "substantial" to "high" COVID-19 transmission.

  • In addition, increasing case numbers and breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, linked to the Delta variant, led the CDC to recommend that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks when they return to school this fall.

By the numbers: CDC data shows the majority of Colorado counties have reached "substantial" or "high" transmission levels, and more could qualify soon.

  • The 42 counties include Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, El Paso, Larimer, Weld, Summit and Mesa counties.

What's happening: Gov. Jared Polis recently dismissed the need for a mask mandate and his office told Axios yesterday that he wouldn't require COVID-19 vaccines for the state's roughly 30,000 employees.

  • The state also won't pursue vaccine mandates for health care workers, the Colorado Sun reports.

With no statewide guidance, confusion about the best public health practices reigns and pressure builds on local officials.

  • In Denver, the Hancock administration currently does not support mandating vaccines for municipal workers or elected officials but is "watching the Delta variant closely," the mayor's spokesperson Mike Strott told Axios.
  • Across the state, many Colorado parents are still waiting to find out whether their kids will be required to wear masks in the upcoming school year, our reporting partners at Chalkbeat write.
  • At Denver Health, the city's public hospital, leadership is having "a lot of conversations and considerations about requiring vaccines," but a final decision hasn't been reached yet, spokesperson April Valdez Villa told Axios.

Between the lines: The inaction from Polis is not surprising. From the start, the Democratic governor resisted statewide mandates such as a lockdown and masks and downplayed both before being pressured to do adopt them.

  • But state health officials did recently require nursing home staff to get vaccinated or complete daily testing to limit the spread in those facilities.

The bottom line: Don't expect statewide mandates from Polis, but if rates get more serious, local officials may be forced to act on their own.

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Go deeper

Sep 17, 2021 - Health

CDC: Moderna vaccine most effective against hospitalization in U.S.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Overall healthy adults with the Moderna COVID vaccine had 93% vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization over five months compared to those with 88% protection with Pfizer and 71% from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a new report out Friday from the CDC shows.

Why it matters: The report comes as the Food and Drug Administrations meets Friday to consider whether to endorse a contentious plan for booster shots among the fully vaccinated.

UN chief urges U.S. and China to fix "dysfunctional relationship"

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a Sept. 13 press conference in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / Coffini/AFP via Getty Images

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres raised concerns in an interview with AP, published Monday, of another Cold War between the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Guterres made the comments ahead of this week's UN General Assembly in New York. Guterres told AP the U.S.-U.K. deal to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia "is just one small piece of a more complex puzzle ... this completely dysfunctional relationship between China and the United States."