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Douglas County wants to split from Tri-County Health Department over mask mandate

Commissioners said the mask mandate is not appropriate for people living in Douglas County due to low virus levels and high voluntarily compliance.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The Board of Douglas County Commissioners wants to break away from the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) following a mask mandate issued this week.

According to a press release put out Thursday, Republican Commissioners Abe Laydon, Roger Partridge and Lora Thomas asked the county's attorney to activate an opt-out clause that was included in the mask order. They also submitted a written notice of their intent to withdraw from TCHD.

In their individual statements, commissioners expressed that they want a policy that is more appropriate for Douglas County and that they trust citizens to do what is best for them.

“Regarding the mask mandate opt-out, our remarkably favorable public health data, paired with the community’s current 75% mask-wearing voluntary compliance observed by TCHD, and based on Dr. Douglas’ recommendation that a mask mandate was not necessary for Douglas County, led us to this conclusion,” Laydon said.

TCHD manages health orders for Douglas, as well as Adams and Arapahoe counties. After hours of discussion, the department's board voted 5-4 on Wednesday to approve the mask mandate for those three counties, like several other counties in the Denver metro area have done.

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During the meeting, multiple members of the public interrupted the Zoom chat to call the unelected board “[expletive] communists” and “unelected tyrants.”

In May, Dr. John Douglas, the head of TCHD, told Next with Kyle Clark that they were hesitant to issue a mask order then because of perceived fatigue from public health orders.

The notion of withdrawing from TCHD has come up before. A group of Republican state lawmakers previously urged the board of commissioners to withdraw from the health department in March because of stay-home orders put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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