LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – A political battle over the enforcement of state health orders is brewing in northern Colorado after Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley asked the city to start drafting an ordinance that would ban Weld County residents from being transferred into the two hospitals in Longmont.
“As a fellow conservative, I find it shocking that people don’t understand that it’s not appropriate to rely on your neighbor’s resources when you should be taking care of it yourself,” Bagley said. “I would appreciate it if my neighbors off to the east would comply. Because whether I like it or not Gov. (Jared) Polis has issued a legal emergency order, we need to comply.”
The issue began on Friday when the state raised Weld County into level red, bringing further restrictions to business. Quickly, Weld County Commissioners said the county wouldn’t enforce the new health orders.
“This isn’t a free for all, but make the best decisions for yourself, for your family, for your loved ones, for your friends, for your business,” said Weld County Commissioner At-Large Kevin Ross. “We just don’t feel that we should play the heavy hand in government to enforce something that we feel just isn’t enforceable.”
Weld County does have among the highest rates of infection and hospitalization in the state, but commissioners argue they’re not worse than other Front Range counties in Colorado that have tighter restrictions in place.
“I think Weld County residents are making the right choices, the majority of them, and I don’t think it’s really different than any other counties,” Ross said.
Weld County has at least 75 of 78 intensive care unit beds being utilized, but not all are from Weld County residents. Ross says some hospitals are treating out-of-state and out-of-area patients.
Bagley is concerned the lack of health order enforcement is going to drive up case numbers and have a greater impact on nearby communities. According to the mayor, Longmont has seven remaining ICU beds in the city.
“It’s not fair that they squander their resources and then expect to use mine. We spent our time trying to maximize our hospital capacity,” he said. “If a Weld County Commissioner and a citizen of Longmont both come to the hospital and there’s only one bed or one doctor left, I think the tie needs to go to Longmont.”
It’s believed even if Longmont passed an ordinance, federal law requiring patients to be treated and a recent executive order from Polis would supersede the ordinance, allowing people to seek treatment wherever needed.
The Colorado Hospital Association Spokesperson told CBS4, “We are concerned as this appears to be a political issue when this is a time we need Colorado to come together and stop the spread of this virus. Our communities are dependent on it and our healthcare system is dependent on it. We have to stop the spread of this virus.”