ERIE, Colo. (CBS4)– – A battle between the State of Colorado and Weld County is leaving one town split in the middle. Erie has struggled since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic as half of the town is in Boulder County and the other half is in Weld County. The latter of which has continued to say it wouldn’t enforce state health orders or restrictions as they fall on the COVID-19 dial.
“In the past that has presented challenges for us, but the challenges associated with COVID have made that county divide more challenging than ever,” said Erie Mayor Jennifer Carroll.
On Friday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment moved Boulder County to Level Red, severe risk on the state COVID-19 dial. Weld County will follow with the same distinction on Sunday. In return, Weld County Commissioners said they wouldn’t enforce the stricter health guidelines.
On Friday, Gov. Jared Polis said that now is the time to be most cautious to protect yourself and others. He also said what Weld County has done so far hasn’t worked.
“We have to have a backstop when hospitals are full and in Weld County. There are only 3 ICU beds and zero regular hospital beds right now, so it’s not simply a Weld County issue. As much as we admire the work that’s been done there to reduce the spread of the virus, it simply hasn’t worked,” said Polis.
Weld County Commissioners issued this statement, “The county will not enforce a rule confining individuals to their homes for an undetermined length of time; the county will not enforce a rule that states residents cannot have personal gatherings; the county will not tell the school districts how to provide education to their students; the county will not enforce a rule requiring a reduction of attendees in places of worship; the county will not enforce a rule demanding restaurants close their indoor dining areas; the county will not enforce any rule that forces a business to shut down or impedes their ability to operate. The county will continue to encourage individuals to actively engage in prevention methods with regard to the virus: physically distance yourself from others, wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home if you are sick, clean frequently touched surfaces. The county will continue to encourage individuals to evaluate their personal situation and make decisions that protect them as best as possible.”
“We have Boulder County that is following what the state says and putting out mandates and health guidelines and you have weld county that is blatantly disregarding what the state is trying to do to keep people safe and that puts us and our businesses in a really bad position,” said Carroll.
Erie has been split since the beginning of the pandemic. The town has worked to create a unified message throughout usually siding with the stricter regulation and enforcement coming from Boulder County. But the decisions by government officials has drawn criticism.
“That just puts us in a really crappy spot with our residents because we’re following what the state says,” Carroll said. “We want businesses open, we want schools open and we thinking taking these preventative measures accomplishes that. I want people to acknowledge it takes all of us to reduce the spread and get to a point where we can have a more normal life back.”
Under Level Red restrictions, outdoor activities are encouraged and most indoor activities are prohibited or strictly limited. Capacity limits are also significant.
Under Level Red, in-person learning for students between pre-school and 5th grade is suggested. Middle and high school students are suggested to learn remotely or in a hybrid environment.