Douglas County moves to leave Tri-County Health Department over mask mandate

The Board of Douglas County Commissioners on Thursday directed the county’s attorney to begin the process of withdrawing from the Tri-County Health Department over their displeasure with a mask mandate – from which the county can and is working to opt out – which was authorized by the TCHD Board of Health on Wednesday.

County Commission Board Chair Roger Partridge said in a statement that the county will work to create its own public health department “that will appropriately meet the needs of Douglas County.”

In addition to directing the county attorney to start the withdrawal process, it also directed the attorney to formally notify TCHD that it was opting out of the coming mandate.

Tri-County Health Department Executive Director John M. Douglas, Jr., M.D. showed data to the board of health Wednesday showing that about 75% of people in Douglas County – through an informal survey in which people with a clipboard counted how many people walked in and out of stores while wearing masks – were wearing masks at stores. Douglas County also has the lowest case rate and positivity rate out of the three counties covered by Tri-County Health.

He also initially recommended to the board that Douglas County not need a mask mandate as he believed Adams County did. The board then decided, after much discussion, to authorize Douglas to issue a mask mandate for all of Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties, though the counties and local municipalities inside them are allowed to opt out.

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