Moffat County to remain in Level Orange following mitigation plan approval from CDPHE
Mitigation plan goes into effect Thursday, Dec. 17. County has requested extension on time frame to show decrease in COVID-19 cases
Moffat County will officially remain in Level Orange following mitigation approval from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The mitigation plan includes the adoption of the state’s mask mandate and goes into effect Thursday, Dec. 17 and runs through Jan. 12, 2021. County Attorney Becky Tyree stated the health order could be rescinded, amended, or extended at any time.
For now, Moffat County has until Dec. 28 to show a decrease in its current positivity rate – which sits at 16.8%, or the state could come in and force the county into Level Red. As of Thursday, the Board of Public Health requested an extension to match the length of the proposed mitigation plan. The Board of Health is still waiting for an answer from the state.
According to the official mitigation plan that was submitted, Moffat County’s Board of Health presented 15 community-wide mitigation effort topics.
Moffat County’s Board of Health listed the 5 Star State Certification Program, which they want to roll out in Moffat County by Jan. 12, 2021. The 5 Star State Certification Program was previously put into effect in Mesa County. At this time, Moffat County does not qualify for the 5 Star State Certification Program, but Public Health Director Kari Ladrow added that having the program available to them should add extra incentive to the community to come together to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“I just want to be clear: Moffat County does not meet the required metrics for the 5 Star program,” Ladrow said. “Because of the positivity rate, positive cases, and hospitalizations being in red for Moffat County, we would not qualify. Knowing that, there’s incentive for the whole community to come together on this in order to even be able to apply for the program.”
The Board of Public Health also said in their mitigation plan that they would cancel and prohibit all indoor events until Jan. 12, 2021, set last call for bars which serve food at 10 p.m., and adopt and enforce the state’s mask mandate as part of the public health order.
According to the document, the Board of Public Health, in partnership with local stakeholders, will also lead a community campaign in support of the local health order, and will educate the community on guidance, laws and enforcement of COVID-19 mitigation guidance and laws.
Additionally, the mitigation plan encourages businesses to work remotely and/or stagger schedules when sharing or work or office space is required.
In addition to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, Public Health will be promoting a “12 Days of Health” campaign through the end of December, promoting the importance and restoration of health services, such as education regarding school-aged vaccinations for children, cancer screenings, post-partum depression screenings, substance abuse referrals and other health needs neglected during the pandemic.
“The mitigation plan was really designed to incorporate the city, county, and law enforcement to all work towards the same goal, which is to lower the disease prevalence of the virus within the community,” Ladrow said. “This public health order was a recommendation from the Colorado Department of Public Health in order to make sure there’s congruence in the order and the mitigation plan from a county perspective.”
According to Moffat County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Cochran, the public health order is enforceable, and failure to comply with the order could lead to civil and criminal penalties to the extent permitted by Colorado law.
Cochran stated that the Board of Health and the Public Health Director will seek compliance with the order by sending a warning letter, a cease and desist letter, file a court case for temporary restraining order or injunctive relief, or — if the business is licensed by the state of Colorado — seek assistance from the state to revoke the license of the business.
Cochran added that Sheriff KC Hume has stated multiple times that the Sheriff’s Office does not have the staff to enforce the order criminally.
“It’s just time we did this, honestly,” Commissioner Don Cook said. “It’s going to be until at least June of next year that the vaccines are available to the general public, so we’ll have to be very vigilant in trying to keep a handle on this.
“The one thing we want to do is keep our community open,” Cook added. “That’s the most important thing, making sure our businesses are operating in whatever fashion they can.”
“…I just want to get down the road where we can get down the road to normalcy and get out of where we are,” Commissioner Donald Broom said. “I think anything we can do to keep our businesses open and d get back to some sense of normalcy, well that’s what we need to do.”
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While the state of Colorado will receive much less in vaccines in the second major rollout than expected, Moffat County continues to roll along vaccinating community members with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.