DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Tri-County Health Department says it will offer public health services to Douglas County through the end of 2022. The two entities agreed and signed a contract on Sept. 28 after more than a year of strife.

Douglas County announced its intention to separate itself from TCHD after the coronavirus pandemic began and launch its own health department. TCHD previously oversaw Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

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County commissioners finally voted to leave the agency in early September of 2021.

“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 at the time.

Until the county can form its own agency, it will need continued services which TCHD will provide in the interim.

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“This agreement benefits all parties, but mainly ensures there is no gap in services for the residents of Douglas County,” said Dr. John Douglas, Tri-County Health Department executive director, in a news release on Wednesday. “It also allows TCHD employees to focus on service delivery without distraction and provides some stability.”

Hundreds of parents and children gathered outside the Douglas County School District’s administrative building Monday morning, after the district announced it would require masks for children between the ages of 2 and 11.
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Some of the public services which will continue include disease control, immunizations, inspections and consumer protections. However, Douglas County will have control on public health policy, and TCHD will continue business without direction from the county’s board of health.

In August, TCHD 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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Douglas County will pay for the continued services and costs for leaving the agency, the agreement states.

Danielle Chavira