Douglas County Commissioners Pass Resolution Urging Polis To ‘Fully Reopen’

The resolution came to a vote after more than an hour of public comment at the Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday afternoon. Dozens of people attended in-person and shared their support for the move.

“Get the restaurants open, get people back to work,” said Craig Barber, a Douglas County resident.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to pass a resolution petitioning the Gov. Jared Polis to immediately lift all COVID-19 restrictions and adopt a plan to fully reopen the county.

In the resolution, commissioners cite a decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations around the county. They also state more than 57,000 residents have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

“We’re really just trying to balance lives and livelihoods and we’re asking the state to give us an opportunity to reopen safely,” said Commissioner Abe Laydon.

Laydon tells CBS4 he believes the push to reopen is about saving lives and livelihoods. With COVID-19 numbers decreasing, one of his biggest concerns remains unemployment in the county and around the state.

“It seems like now is the appropriate time to say look, let’s give our citizens their lives back,” Laydon said.

Throughout the meeting, Laydon and the other commissioners stressed that county residents are capable of personal responsibility.

“If you’re 83 and have COPD, maybe you make the decision to stay home, but to really punish our restaurants and businesses at this point doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense,” Laydon said.

Some remain skeptical of that idea. During public comment Patty McGuinness of Highlands Ranch said personal responsibility is a great political soundbite, but not sound a sound policy.

“This resolution is a divisive, irresponsible, uncooperative political maneuver,” she said.

McGuinness was in the minority Tuesday afternoon. All but a few people who signed up for public comment were in favor of the resolution. Some residents voiced concerns for how COVID-19 restrictions are affecting businesses and children, while others shared more fringe beliefs and interpretations of current health orders.

Before the meeting, dozens of supporters met in the parking lot to show support for the commissioners and rally against current state health orders. Some waved signs saying, “this is USA not China” and “stop trampling our freedoms,” while others listened to live music and bought lunch from a nearby food truck.

“We’re destroying something in this country – in our economy, in our young people, in our businesses that we can affect, to try and handle something that we can’t affect,” said Gary Lake.

Ultimately, the resolution remains largely symbolic, as Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) make decisions regarding restrictions across the state.

CBS4 reached out the governor’s office about the resolution. A spokesperson sent the following statement:

“Pretty much everything is already open, and the Governor shares the goal of Douglas County Commissioners of keeping things open and that people should be able to pack in more tightly soon. As more Coloradans receive the lifesaving vaccine, especially our seniors 70 and older who represent 78% of COVID deaths in our state and do not yet have full immunity, people will be able to pack in more.

We will continue the work to devolve more authority to local government as we make data-driven decisions that are best for our state and communities. Colorado has lost more than 6,000 people to COVID-19 and it’s up to each and every one of us to do our part to prevent further spread of the disease and loss of life.”

John M Douglas, Jr., Executive Director of the Tri-County Health Department also released a statement to CBS4:

“We understand the desire of leaders and residents in Douglas County to open up our communities and economy as rapidly and completely as possible based on the extraordinary opportunities provided by the growing supply of highly effective vaccines.

Tri-County Health Department concurs with faster re-opening and will be conveying concerns of elected officials and residents in all of our counties when we take part in discussions with CDPHE on best approaches going forward later this week.”

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