Board of Public Health discusses potential move to Level Red, issuing local mask order in public meeting

Moffat County commissioners, serving as the Board of Public Health, have an important decision looming in the next few days on whether to voluntarily move to Level Red on the state dial and become eligible for state funding from Senate Bill 2020-001, or remain in Level Orange and not be eligible for state funding.

The Board of Public Health on Monday also discussed issuing a local mask order for Moffat County, requiring all residents to wear a face-covering in public spaces.

Decisions on both issues were not made Monday, but commissioners are expected to make a ruling on the mask order and the decision to stay in Orange or move to Red on Tuesday during another Public Health Meeting.

“What we have in front of us is a decision,” said Kari Ladrow, Moffat County Public Health Director. “The state called me this morning and said they would be moving Moffat County to red on the 10th of December. However, they are asking counties to voluntarily move into Red to receive relief funds from Senate Bill 1 that was recently passed. If we stay in Orange, we won’t be eligible for those funds.”

Ladrow added that high case counts in Moffat County, and a positive rate of 18% — which is one of the worst in the state of Colorado — are reasons why the state is considering moving Moffat County to red.

According to previous Denver Post reporting, a large portion of Senate Bill 1’s spending ($37 million) goes toward direct relief payments — up to $7,000 — to small businesses hit hard by pandemic restrictions, such as restaurants, bars, salons, movie theaters and gyms.

Should Moffat County move to red, personal gatherings would be reduced to none from up to 10 or two households, while capacity at gyms would be reduced to 10% and indoor dining would be closed.

Commissioner Don Cook said he needs to do more research to figure out what the county would be giving up if it went to Level Red, and what the financial help would look like locally.

“I don’t see that we’d be out a great deal of money if we gave that up and stayed in orange, from what I’m seeing,” Cook added. “I think this is something that bears more research. We need to know what we’re going to give up, and I think we need to do something about masks. I know it’s not popular, but we need to do something.”

“If there’s any way possible to stay in the Orange, I’d rather do that to the extent that we can,” added Commissioner Ray Beck. “Any money that we have coming from the state is going to benefit the community, but it would be more of a benefit to the community if we keep the community open; that’s just my 2 cents.”

While the talk centered around voluntarily moving down to Level Red or staying in Level Orange, Ladrow was quick to point out that the state could still move Moffat County to red if it so chooses.

“If the disease continues to spread through Moffat County, we are looking at a shutdown,” Ladrow said. “I don’t want to disillusion anyone that we’d stay in Orange forever.”

Public Health Medical Officer Allen Reishus weighed in late in the meeting, citing the lack of success the county is having when it comes to mitigating the spread of the virus.

“The lack of success is pretty astounding,” Reishus said. “If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, that’s asking for more and more cases, more and more hospitalizations, and more and more deaths. Going to red is not the perfect answer, and it’s not the final answer. But, it could help.”

As for a possible local mask order, board of health members said they would consider one mirroring the state’s mask mandate that was passed in July 2020 by Gov. Jared Polis.

Commissioners agreed that some issues need to be worked out before issuing the order, leading to another Public Health meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.


Ladrow provided a quick update regarding Sandrock Ridge Care and Rehab to open Monday’s meeting.

According to Ladrow, Sandrock Ridge has been in outbreak status for three weeks as of Thursday. At this time, the assisted living center is up to 12 deaths.

In total, Moffat County is up to 19 reported deaths, with 12 of those coming from assisted living centers.

“The important thing to remember is that these are community members and there are now families going into holidays without their loved ones,” Ladrow said.

Ladrow added that Moffat County is up to 452 total cases in the county with 69 currently active. Of the 452 cases, 364 have recovered.

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