CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – Douglas County Commissioners were firm during a town hall Wednesday night that they will not mandate citizens to wear a mask and beyond that, the commission wants its own voice at the table when it comes to public health decisions.

“These are just part of the growing pains that happen. Douglas County is not a toddler anymore. We’re an adult, and it’s time that we were able to provide our own services,” said Commissioner Lora Thomas.

(credit: CBS)

While talks of separation aren’t new, the decision to leave Tri-County Health Department soon came following the department’s July 8 mask mandate.

According to Dr. John Douglas, the executive director of Tri-County Health, voluntary compliance in DougCo is nearly 80%, a number derived from questionnaires and observation.

“We’ve got a number of volunteers who are going to large stores throughout the region basically sitting in the parking lot basically monitoring what’s happening as people are walking in or out,” he said.

Commissioners feared that a mandate would cause protest, but Douglas referenced a national study which suggested mandates work. Out of 15 states surveyed, “What they saw was that after the mandate was issued, the wearing of face coverings increased and more importantly, there was a decline of the daily COVID growth rate by 2%,” he said.

Homemade protective mask and pieces of cloth on a gray background.

Janna Danilova/iStock/Getty Images)

Still, he agreed with commissioners, Douglas County is in a unique position with voluntary compliance. While COVID-19 numbers have increased slightly over the last few days, he said it could be a result of increased testing.

Douglas County commissioners say Douglas recommended against a mandate for the county.

“We did not feel that a mandate for our citizens was appropriate … that was the recommendation from Dr. Douglas to the board of health, and unfortunately when that did not occur, it was an eye opener for us in terms of what might be best going forward,” said Commissioner Abe Laydon.

Laydon believes the citizens are responsible enough to make their own decisions and says it’s also a matter of limiting the burden of fines that comes along with the mandates.

“I don’t want to see you jailed or fined up to $1,000 if you’re caught not wearing one. I think you’ve been through enough as Douglas County citizens over the last four months. Adding to your burdens at this time I don’t think makes a whole lot of sense especially when we’re seeing up to 80% voluntary compliance with mask wearing in Douglas County,” he said.

The big picture for commissioners? Having a separate health department with its own board of directors.

“We are interested in managing the board of health to be sure that those are representatives of you in Douglas County and they are representing your interests. So nothing is really going to change as far as your services are delivered. It’s just the direction to the health department director. That’s part of the question that needs to be resolved,” said Thomas.

(credit: CBS)

Commissioners wanted to make it clear, nothing is changing today. Tri-County Health is still the health department for now. Douglas County says it has given the Tri-County Health a year notice for the change.

The mask mandate for Tri-County takes effect July 24. Others opting out include Bennet, Glendale and Brighton.

Jamie Leary

Comments (10)
  1. Jr says:

    When you drive your car, you are supposed to have functioning brakes. Can you imagine driving in the traffic when only 80% cars brake work fine? The rest if they have to brake, crash time. Wearing masks is not an individual’s choice as long as they are in public. Get your friends and family sick and put them to danger. That’s your choice and don’t push your choices on me. This is a free country. You donot decide for other people whether you do get them sick or not.

  2. Deana Bossio says:

    Thankfully I live in DC and am grateful not to be forced to wear a mask. We are in an election season not a virus season. Fear is a liar and we don’t need fear mongering. I respect someone else’s choice to wear a mask and I appreciate the same respect for not wearing a mask. God bless America. Trump 2020!

    1. CT Nelson says:

      stay the f*** in DC and F**** you and trump

  3. Mary says:

    That’s fine as long as Douglas County makes sure their residents are aware that just because the county doesn’t require masks DOES NOT mean that businesses must serve them (or even allow them in) and that any “violent protests” of being denied service (or entry) will be treated just like any other assault or battery.

    Note that more chain stores are requiring masks NATIONWIDE. Just today, it was announced that Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, as well as Kroger (King Soopers and City Market stores) will be requiring them starting next week – and other stores have required them even longer.

    1. df says:

      nationwide chains are requiring masks because they are being threatened by leftist politicians with changes to the enormous tax incentives they receive each year from the taxpayers through the local gov’ts……people need to wake up.

  4. Jr says:

    Nobody says, people should be fined when they are not wearing masks. However wearing masks is crucial. It allows businesses to gently remind their customers to wear a mask. Wearing masks allows us to open up and stay open. Will the same people accept responsibility and liability when lives are lost because the infection rate goes up? They should. Look at what’s happened at Florida, Arizona and Texas.

  5. C. S. says:

    Kudos to Costco and Sam’s Club patrons; everytime I visit there is nearly 100% mask use. The Walmart, King Soopers, and local businesses are nowhere 80% though so I suspect the study was done mostly at Costco and Sam’s Club. Too bad, but the South is teaching us what lack of social distancing and lack of care for your neighbors shown by not wearing a mask means for infections, deaths, and disabilities…

    1. gh says:

      please posts some facts to your comment; actual infection rates are grossly overstated and death rates have fallen to negative (take a stats class). blindly following orders is not attractive.

      1. C.S. says:

        Sadly, you are in error @gh. Sigh, like turn signals; masks are proof you care about your fellow human beings; not so you are protected.

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