Outside Tri-County Health Department’s administrative office at 6162 S. Willow Drive in Greenwood Village. The agency serves more than 1.5 million people in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties. (Ellis Arnold, Colorado Community Media)

Some local leaders in Arapahoe County worry that a decision of whether to break away from Tri-County Health Department on the heels of neighboring Douglas County’s move to exit the agency would be influenced by the “politicization of public health.”

“There was this question about what is the message to our residents about the politicization of public health and the trust and responsibility in government if there’s a perception that this decision is being made because of politics around COVID? What are we saying to our residents?” said Lisa VanRaemdonck, a consultant who is gathering opinions to guide Arapahoe County’s decision of whether to form its own health department after Douglas County exits Tri-County Health.

Douglas County has long been contemplating leaving Tri-County Health amid a rift over the health agency’s coronavirus safety orders.

Douglas County commissioners formalized the decision to leave Tri-County in a meeting Sept. 7, opting to form their own health department.

In early September, Arapahoe County confirmed that Arapahoe and Adams counties had also been contemplating splitting away from Tri-County Health, among other options, driven by Douglas County’s intention to leave.

A county spokesman at the time said a separation wouldn’t be driven by any policy disagreement with the agency, but rather by potential financial or budgetary problems for the other two counties caused by Douglas County’s exit.

Tri-County is the local public health agency that serves Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties. Arapahoe has been a part of the agency since its founding in 1948.

Read more at coloradocommunitymedia.com.