COVID-19

Stay-at-home orders issued for Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Jefferson and Boulder counties

Residents can still go for walks, shop at grocery stores and liquor stores

Ellis Arnold
earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/25/20

Three Denver metro area public health departments issued stay-at-home orders, covering Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Jefferson and Boulder counties — effectively putting most of the metro area under …

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COVID-19

Stay-at-home orders issued for Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Jefferson and Boulder counties

Residents can still go for walks, shop at grocery stores and liquor stores

Posted

Three Denver metro area public health departments issued stay-at-home orders, covering Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Jefferson and Boulder counties — effectively putting most of the metro area under such restrictions as Denver's order continues and the state government leaves the decision to localities.

The orders allow people to leave home for "essential activities," such as to shop for groceries, obtain medical supplies or medication, go to the doctor, or walk or exercise outdoors. The orders go into effect March 26 at 8 a.m. and last through April 17, but they may be lifted earlier than that, the departments said in a news release.

Tri-County's full order can be read here. The orders for Boulder and Jefferson counties closely resemble Tri-County’s.

“There is widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the metro Denver area, and we must take bold actions to stop the spread of this virus,” John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County Health, said in a news release. “With each passing day, we run a growing risk of greater transmission and illness and quickly overwhelming our hospitals, which are really a resource for our entire region and state.”

MORE: Tri-County officials say "rapid rise" led to order

As of March 24, Colorado's tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 912, including 27 in Adams, 69 in Arapahoe, 53 in Douglas, 73 in Jefferson and 49 in Boulder.

The orders are an effort to “flatten the pandemic curve,” Mark Johnson, Jefferson County Public Health’s executive director, said in the release. That’s a term that means smoothing COVID-19’s spread out over a longer period of time, as opposed to seeing a spike in infections that exceeds the health care system’s ability to prevent deaths.

What do the orders say?

The Tri-County Health Department, which oversees Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas, along with Jefferson County's and Boulder County's health departments, announced the orders for the counties' more than 2 million residents on March 25.

The orders last a week longer than the one the City and County of Denver adopted March 23, which requires everyone in that city to stay at home except to leave for “essential activities," generally the same as the five counties' new orders. They all allow for collecting supplies to work from home. Getting food by delivery, take-out or drive-thru, or from food banks and pantries, is also allowed by the five counties' new order.

Tri-County's order allows for workers in various industries considered “essential businesses” — a long list including health care, infrastructure, utilities, grocery stores, liquor stores, agriculture, restaurants, banks, news media and many more — to leave home to work. Individuals can also leave home to obtain services at those businesses.

Leaving to care for a family member, friend or pet in another household, or to relocate a household from one residence to another, are also allowed under Tri-County’s order. That includes caring for their physical or mental health, or making sure they're fed, according to Gary Sky, Tri-County spokesman.

Also allowed is leaving home to go to educational institutions to collect materials for online class or other remote learning, or to receive meals.

The Tri-County order added an exemption for gun stores. That change was made to make sure the rule does not interfere with constitutional rights.

The order says parks should remain open, but it closes all playgrounds, golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, picnic areas and “similar areas conducive to public gathering.”

The order urges people who are sick and those with high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 — older adults and those with serious underlying medical conditions — to stay home except to seek medical care.

Tri-County’s and Jefferson County's orders also could be extended past April 17 if the department finds it necessary.

State opting for local choice

After nearly two weeks of slowly escalating urgings and orders to curtail the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Jared Polis has stopped short of ordering residents to stay home the way many other states have.

He has praised Denver and San Miguel County for issuing orders for residents to stay at home, but he said the state wants to articulate its guidance in a way that gets the most buy-in, or voluntary compliance, from the public.

San Miguel was the first county in the state to announce a shelter-in-place order, which lasts through at least April 3.

Similar to a part of Denver’s March 23 stay-at-home order, Polis announced an executive order March 22 that required “noncritical” workplaces to reduce their in-person workforce by 50% — by working from home or staggering shifts — by March 24.

The order generally excludes government and health care; agriculture; manufacturing of food, medical supplies and other essentials; groceries, gas and hardware retailers; and services such as trash removal and shipping, among many others.

Polis’ executive order doesn't apply if employers can show that their workers are never within 6 feet of each other. It remains in effect until April 10 unless modified by another order.

In a statement March 23 about Denver's action, Polis said:

“Last week, San Miguel (County) issued a stay at home order for non-critical functions and additional isolation measures were also taken in Gunnison, Eagle, and Summit counties. Today the city and county of Denver issued a similar order.

"I’m strongly in support of these local efforts, and it’s extremely important that just as our state is acting boldly and urgently, that our county health departments are also taking strong actions ... taking into account local factors like population density and concentration of coronavirus cases, to best contain the spread of the virus.”

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