City finds mask use declines along Clear Creek, steady downtown

Concern public may be losing commitment to mask wearing

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/1/20

An observational study of face mask usage in Golden found that mask usage remains relatively high in downtown Golden but is declining significantly along Clear Creek. The study, which was presented …

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City finds mask use declines along Clear Creek, steady downtown

Concern public may be losing commitment to mask wearing

Posted

An observational study of face mask usage in Golden found that mask usage remains relatively high in downtown Golden but is declining significantly along Clear Creek.

The study, which was presented to the city council on Aug. 27, was conducted by city staff members who observed every person who walked through designated areas downtown and along the creek to determine whether they were wearing a face mask correctly.

Counting was conducted for 30 minutes between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day at both the intersection of 12th Street and Washington Avenue downtown and along the north side of the Clear Creek trail adjacent to the Golden History Museum and Park (counting was conducted only once a day at each site for the first two weeks before switching to twice a day at east site) from July 6-Aug. 16.

Alex Mansfield, an administrative assistant with the city who designed the study and presented its findings to city city council, said the study found that mask compliance was better downtown than by the creek and better on weekdays than on weekends.

For the duration of the study, the number of people observed not correctly wearing a mask over their nose and mouth was relatively steady and hovered between 18% and 34%. The worst weeks of compliance were also the first two weeks of the study with correct mask usage increasing after both the implementation of the city’s mask order and the state one a week later.

But the trend was different along the creek.

“There was general increase in amount of people wearing mask compliantly as soon as the ordinance and emergency orders were enacted which declined steadily over the counting period until week six in which we have this cross in which more people were not wearing a mask than were when observed along the creek,” said Mansfield.

The percentage of people observed correctly wearing a mask along the creek peaked during the week of July 13-18 when 75% of people were doing so. However, on the weekend 0f Aug. 16 only 45% of people were doing so.

Golden City Manager Jason Slowinski said the decline in mask use along the creek played a role in the city’s decision to close the creek to recreational activities after leaving it open for them for much of the summer.

“As we were seeing mask use go down and crowds get larger those were certainly factors as we contemplated how to manage that resource in our city,” said Slowinski.

“As you got a half block away from downtown it said now you are wearing a mask zone and a mask is required at all times,” said Brown. “I thought that was interesting because I think it might solve some of the issues you’ve identified here where when you get to a more highly-trafficked area some of the mask usage goes down.”

Brown also asked Mansfield for his suggestions. In response, he also suggested the city could improve messaging to remind people they need to wear masks in high traffic situations outdoors as well as indoors.

Mansfield also expressed concern that people were losing interest in mask wearing and that was evident in the decline along the creek versus downtown, where people need to wear a mask to enter any business.

“The other one I would say is how long can we pay attention and follow the rules?” he said. “By week six the ordinances had been in effect for over a month and compliance, especially along the creek, started to go down.”

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