Tri-County Health Department is drafting a stay-at-home directive for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties that would be similar to ones that the cities of Denver and Boulder have instituted this week in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Littleton Independent reported that on Tuesday the board of directors for the health agency, which covers the 1.5 million people living in the three counties, gave its executive director authority to approve such an order. It could take effect as soon as Thursday and last through April 17. San Miguel County issued a similar order last week, which runs through April 3, and Boulder County announced its own on Wednesday morning.
Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman tweeted on Tuesday evening that the lockdown order would be similar, “but not identical,” to Denver’s directive, which took effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock instructed residents to shelter at home except for essential activities.
“Details of final order still being drafted,” said Coffman of the TCHD directive. “Expected to go into effect at 8 am on Thursday.”
Reaction to the news was mixed. The Independent reported that Arapahoe County commissioners were divided, as were Douglas County’s three commissioners. Adams County’s commissioners were “all on board.”
Expressing skepticism on Twitter, Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon advised constituents that he will be “actively working to restore our economy and our essential liberties any way I can and will be watching the numbers closely to ensure the cure is not worse than the crisis.”
Lora Thomas, another commissioner from Douglas County, said that only one of the three-member board supported a stay-at home directive. “County attorney says there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Ugh. Suicides will be up. (Domestic violence incidents) are already up.”
Nationwide and in Colorado, crisis response groups have reported increased risk to victims of sheltering at home with their abusers. Gun sales have also surged, and the presence of a firearm in domestic incidents increases the chances of homicide by approximately 500%.
Colorado law gives county health agencies the ability to establish and enforce isolations or quarantines. In cases where public health is at risk, agencies may also “exercise physical control over property and over the persons of the people”. The authority extends to closing schools and canceling public gatherings, measures which have already taken effect in Colorado as varies governmental bodies and Gov. Jared Polis have given increasingly strict directions.
Jordan Sauers, a council member from Northglenn and a director of regional affairs for Hancock, praised the mayor on Tuesday night and appeared to welcome the impending order.