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Tri-County Health board approves mask mandate for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties

The mask order applies to Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, but individual communities have the option to opt out.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Following close 5-4 vote, the Tri-County Health Department’s (TCHD) board has approved a mask mandate for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, with the option for individual municipalities to opt out.

This came after a nearly two-and-a-half hour discussion, with board members weighing their duty to present scientifically-backed health directives to the public with the politization of the efficacy of face coverings in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

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

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“We cannot let people force us to do what our scientific reasoning tells us not to,” said board member Julie Mullica.

Mullica amended an initial version for a mask mandate proposal brought forward by Tri-County Health Executive Director Dr. John Douglas Jr., who had only proposed that people in Adams County and Aurora be required to wear face masks, with the two other counties in his jurisdiction having the option to opt in.

“I think as everyone is aware it’s certainly gotten politicized, which I’ve never seen a public health intervention fall prey to, but it’s certainly made the promotion of masks harder than it needs to,” Douglas said during a presentation outlining his reasoning for a mask mandate.

Under Mullica’s amendment, all three counties are included in the order, with the health department’s 29 municipalities and three counties having the option to opt-out.

RELATED: Aurora's mayor supports face mask mandate

Here is the full text of the motion:

“Move to direct and authorize the Executive Director of TCHD to issue a public health order for face coverings for all three counties (i.e. Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas) with an opt-out clause for any municipality or county in TCHD’s jurisdiction. Further, this order will expire on or before 90 days from its implementation date; however, it may be amended, extended or rescinded by the Executive Director of TCHD.”

Douglas said he was still determining how the mask policy would be enforced, but that it likely wouldn’t fall on local police departments. He said 99% of it would involve education.

Denver implemented its own mask mandate in early May, something many communities in Colorado have begun to do. Englewood, which is part of the TCHD, approved a mask order Tuesday night.

Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) has promoted the use of masks, but has not mandated them statewide, instead relying on individual communities to make the choice.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman tweeted in support of a TCHD mask order, arguing that it would save the community from returning to a stay-at-home order, which led to the closure of businesses and a spike in unemployment.