DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Douglas County Commissioners met Tuesday night to vote on forming the county’s own health agency. This comes after last week’s vote to formally leave the Tri-County Health Department.

(credit: CBS)

That agency oversees Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties. Last month, the Tri-County Health Department issued a face mask mandate for everyone in schools and childcare settings regardless of vaccination status. That public health order also prevents individual counties – Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas – from opting out of public health orders.

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The commissioners voted at a work session last week to immediately start the process to leave Tri-County Health as was initially announced as an intention on July 11, 2020.

(credit: CBS)

After leaving TCHD, a new local board of health must be established in a resolution to form the Douglas County Health Department.

“I want to emphasize that today is about local control over public health orders and securing continuity of services and ensuring that at no time will there be any gaps when it comes to exceptional public health in Douglas County,” said Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon.

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“We’re not the ‘us’ in the Tri-County equation anymore. And I don’t know about my colleagues, but I can’t sit here and represent the 358,000 people here in Douglas County and be okay with that,” said Douglas County Commissioner George Teal.

Once commissioners approve the formal resolution, they have 90 days to put a board of health in place.

TCHD provided the following statement about what lies ahead for the entity as a whole:

Tri-County Health Department cannot yet speak to what services will look like in Douglas County until we reach an agreement with the county. However, Tri-County Health Department is committed to continuing to provide services to Douglas County residents until those agreements have been made and the transition to the Douglas County Health Department is completed.

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Last year when Douglas County began talking about leaving Tri-County Health Department, Adams and Arapahoe counties and TCHD had to consider what impact the separation would have on the rest of the entity. Adams and Arapahoe counties are currently engaged in a process to explore options for the future provision of public health services and programs in their two counties. They and Tri-County Health Department are working together with a consulting firm Otowi Group to gather and analyze related information and engage in strategic planning. Tri-County Health Department is committed to engaging in this thoughtful, data-driven process. We expect their findings to be presented to both boards in October.

Jennifer McRae