Health chief responds to lawmaker's push to lift Arapahoe County stay-at-home order sooner

Extension spurred by higher infection rates, health department tells Champion

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The Tri-County Health Department has responded to a state lawmaker's call to immediately lift Arapahoe County's extended stay-at-home order, saying the order was extended because of Arapahoe County's higher rates of COVID-19 infection relative to neighboring Douglas County, which the department has exempted from the order.

As Colorado Community Media reported, state Rep. Richard Champion wrote to Tri-County Health's executive director Dr. John Douglas on Monday, April 27, calling the department's decision to extend the order until May 8 “playing Big Brother.” Gov. Polis lifted a statewide stay-at-home order on April 27, and Champion wanted the order lifted as of that date.

Champion represents the 38th House District, which encompasses parts of west Centennial, Littleton, Columbine Valley and Bow Mar.

In an email sent late Tuesday, April 28, Douglas said Champion's letter was in keeping with emails from others in Tri-County Health's coverage area, which also includes Adams County, but added “we hear from just as many who share that they and others they know are afraid to go back to work because they don't want to get exposed to the virus and are thus urging us to continue these orders for an even longer period of time.”

Douglas said the department decided to extend the order in Arapahoe and Adams counties because they had a higher rate of infection relative to Douglas County.

As of April 28, Arapahoe County had 2,166 known cases of COVID-19 and 100 deaths, according to Tri-County Health data — the second-highest number of cases in Colorado, behind only Denver County. Arapahoe County has the seventh-highest per capita case rate in Colorado, according to the state health department.

Douglas County as of April 28 had 465 cases and 21 deaths, according to Tri-County Health, the 25th-highest per capita rate in the state. Adams County had seen 1,332 cases and 44 deaths.

Douglas said the Board of Health's decision to extend Arapahoe and Adams counties' stay-at-home was “to provide a slightly longer period of stricter social distancing to help reduce ongoing transmission and to increase levels of testing and contact notification.”

“You are correct that relying on our residents to make smart choices over the duration of the pandemic will be key to our getting through it with as little loss of life and economic impact as possible,” Douglas wrote to Champion, “and I am hopeful that with better public health tools more available, our community will be in a place to make their choices even more effective.”

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