Douglas County staff members are in the process of creating a new COVID-19 mitigation plan after the state’s public-health department informed them they were in danger of losing their variances due to a recent surge in cases.
Variances are exemptions from certain state COVID-19-related restrictions.
In the letter, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment requested that the county either submit a mitigation plan for containing the surge or no longer use any of their variances.
“We are seeing an uptick in cases in Colorado in general and (Douglas County) in particular,” according to the letter.
Douglas County has variances allowing large gatherings and the operation of libraries, movie theaters, concert halls, restaurants, gyms, churches and Park Meadows Mall.
The CDPHE's letter, sent via email Friday, July 17, wasn’t seen by the county until the following Monday, July 20, a county spokesperson said. The county requested an extension to the mitigation plan deadline, originally set for Monday at noon. The new deadline is Friday, July 24, but the county plans to submit the plan Tuesday, July 21, the spokesperson said.
In the state’s letter, the CDPHE recommended that the mitigation plan include ways to increase social distancing.
Fourteen other counties, all with approved variances, also received the letter, according to a CDPHE spokesperson. These counties also each had a disease incidence rate greater than 50 people per 100,000 for at least two weeks.
After Douglas County submits its plan, it will have two weeks to reverse the trend of increasing infections.
"We will re-evaluate your case count and percent testing positivity at that time and may modify or remove the county’s variance depending on the outcome,” according to the letter.
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