Colorado county refuses to enforce state orders as COVID-19 level increases
Weld County, Colo., commissioners recently reiterated that they wouldn’t be enforcing state-issued pandemic-related mandates, even after the state deemed the county to be at higher risk in the pandemic.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) moved Weld County to “Level Red” on its COVID-19 dial, which provides a framework of COVID-19-related guidance to counties, according to the CDPHE website.
Levels are determined by the percentage of new cases, percent positivity of COVID-19 tests, impact on hospitals and other considerations. Level Red is considered severe risk, while Level Purple, the highest level, is considered extreme risk.
CDPHE moved Weld County’s level on the dial on Nov. 19 that it was moving Weld County to Level Red, the Denver Post reports. However, Weld County has indicated it won’t be enforcing any restrictions that come with the level change.
“County government continues to do what it has done since March, which is promote and encourage residents and business owners to take individual responsibility and make decisions to protect themselves, their families, their community and their businesses,” a Nov. 20 county news release noted, per Complete Colorado.
Specifically, Weld County said it won’t enforce a shelter-in-place rule, a rule prohibiting personal gatherings, dictating to schools how to provide education, the reduction of attendees in places of worship, a mandate for restaurants to close indoor dining areas and any rule that mandates a business shut down or that inhibits its ability to operate, according to Complete Colorado.
“Please remember that these recommendations and mandates are not law enforcement related and are a public health topic,” a post on Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams’s Facebook page read in part, per Complete Colorado.
The state has threatened to withhold funds from Weld County, but it hasn’t done so, Complete Colorado reports. Weld County officials have said there aren’t funds to withhold, and that they aren’t concerned by the amount if there were funds to withhold. A CDPHE statement given to Denver’s 9News on the week of Nov. 20 notes that, “enforcement always starts with county collaboration, voluntary compliance, and education.”