By Conor McCue

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, weekly testing will soon be a requirement for thousands of county and municipal employees within Jefferson County. The new public health order was approved by the Jefferson County Board of Health on Monday.  It goes into effect Nov. 1.

(credit: CBS)

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“These measures, such as testing, the mask order that we put in place prior for county and municipal government buildings are proven strategies to help reduce the spread,” said Greg Deranleau, President of the Board of Health.

The order does not apply to employees who work from home 100% of the time. County and municipal government workers who submit proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are also exempt from the weekly testing.

“Being vaccinated is a way to comply with the current public health order, but it is not a vaccination requirement,” said Deranleau. “It is a testing requirement.”

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the county has seen more than 1,100 new cases in the last week and is considered a high-risk area for transmission.

While the testing will be a change for some departments, both the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office and JeffCo Public Schools tell CBS4 they’ve been doing it on their own for weeks.

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“We wouldn’t have taken action with this order if we weren’t hopeful that it would be effective,” said Deranleau.

(credit: CBS)

The choice to require testing differs from cities like Denver, which recently required employees be vaccinated. Deranleau said the board is hopeful vaccination numbers will still go up with the current order.

“With this testing requirement we would like to see businesses and other organizations take similar steps because at the end of the day it will encourage vaccine uptake,” he said.

The order will remain in effect until Jefferson County has experienced at least 21 consecutive days in CDC’s moderate or low transmission categories.

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It is recommended, not required the tests be proctored. The county currently has more than a half dozen free testing sites listed on its website.

Conor McCue