Douglas County exempt from extended Tri-County stay-at-home order

Commissioners have a timeline-specific plan to open the county

Elliott Wenzler
ewenzler@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 4/24/20

While the Tri-County Health Department voted April 24 to extend a stay-at-home order for an additional 10 days, until May 8, Douglas County will be exempt. The waiver comes as Douglas County …

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Douglas County exempt from extended Tri-County stay-at-home order

Commissioners have a timeline-specific plan to open the county

Posted

While the Tri-County Health Department voted April 24 to extend a stay-at-home order for an additional 10 days, until May 8, Douglas County will be exempt.

The waiver comes as Douglas County continues to have fewer cases, deaths and hospitalizations caused by COVID-19 compared to Arapahoe and Adams counties, according to Tri-County data.

Douglas County's plan to re-open, which still needs to be approved by Tri-County, will begin April 27, the same day that the state's stay-at-home order is lifted, according to a letter from county commissioners to Tri-County.

“With no sustained surge in the number of cases requiring hospitalization as a result of COVID-19, Douglas County believes as long as our communities continue to make responsible choices we can, and should, start taking steps to reopen,” according to the letter signed by all three commissioners.

As of April 24, Douglas County had 403 cases of the novel coronavirus, while Arapahoe had nearly 1,900 cases and Adams had more than 1,100. The county's hospitals also had not reached capacity, Commissioner Lora Thomas said. 

“Of course we don't want people dying from the virus but we also don't want people dying from suicide because they've lost their businesses and their homes,” Thomas said.

The county's “safer-at-home” plan, which allows for group meetings of up to 10 people, is set to begin April 27 with curbside retail allowed beginning May 1 and many businesses that previously had been deemed nonessential opening May 4, according to the plan acquired by Colorado Community Media.

Businesses that will be able to open under the plan include offices, retail, personal services — such as salons and pet grooming — and elective medical services. Each business that chooses to open will be required to develop protocols aligned with guidance from Tri-County and Douglas County. These business plans will be posted in stores and online, according to the document.

“This is very close to what the governor announced on April 20 as the `safer-at-home' plan,” Thomas said. “It mirrors that.”

The “operational plan” outlined in the document calls for all positive cases of COVID-19 to be investigated within 24 hours. It's unclear how close the county presently is to meeting the 24-hour standard, Thomas said. 

Residents with positive or presumed positive cases and their household members will be expected to remain home for 14 days and vulnerable populations will be encouraged to stay home whenever possible.

The commissioners' plan also recommends residents to continue to wear face masks in public.

The plan is still awaiting approval from Dr. John Douglas, the executive director of Tri-County.

While teleworking will still be highly encouraged, many Douglas County businesses will be allowed to have 50% of their staff on-site beginning May 4, according to the document.

Outdoor recreation centers like tennis courts, skate parks and dog parks will also be allowed to open with social distancing measures in place under the tentative plan. 

The document also includes a list of businesses that will not be able to re-open yet such as theaters, dine-in restaurants, bars, playgrounds and senior centers. 

“Eventually that section will be addressed,” Thomas said. “But right now, we have to show we can manage this first step.”

The commissioners have had a lot of discussion about whether opening the county's businesses could cause the community to be inundated with residents from other areas, Thomas said.

“We are responsible for our citizens and we felt this was good for our citizens,” she said. “Other citizens need to pay attention to orders in place by their officials.”

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