Three public health departments that on Wednesday issued stay-at-home orders for 2.5 million Front Range residents rescinded them on Thursday, saying they conflict with the statewide order issued by Gov. Jared Polis.
The directors of Boulder County Public Health, Jefferson County Public Health and Tri-County Health Department said their organizations, representing five metro Denver counties, have now formally adopted the state’s order, which took effect Thursday morning and will last until at least April 11.
“We believe this action will ensure social distancing requirements are consistent across the state, and that our communities are not confused by multiple orders,” the directors wrote in a joint statement.
The health departments on Wednesday adopted stay-at-home orders intended to help slow the spread of the coronavirus that extended until April 17. Dr. John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County Health Department, which covers Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, said Wednesday that it was necessary in the absence of a statewide order. “I think a statewide order could have been and would still be an advantage in terms of working together clearly, effectively and protectively as health care resources.”
Larimer County followed with a similar order that was to take effect at 5 p.m. Thursday. Pitkin, Gunnison, San Miguel and La Plata counties had already issued stay-at-home orders.
Later in the day, Polis issued the statewide order, which, like Denver’s mandate, keeps people at home until April 11.
That order, “essentially becomes a law in Colorado, and so while local communities can be more restrictive, none can be less restrictive,” Mike Willis, director of the state Emergency Operations Center, said Thursday morning. Nor can counties opt out of the order, he said.
At least 20 deaths in Colorado have been attributed to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. The virus is known to be in 36 of Colorado’s 64 counties and nearly 1,100 people who have tested positive for the virus in Colorado or are considered positive cases because they have symptoms of COVID-19 and are a close contact of someone who has the disease.
The first two cases of COVID-19 in the state were announced on March 5. Polis declared a state of emergency on March 10 in an effort to best respond to the situation.