Eagle County seeks authority to reopen ahead of April 26

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EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. — One of the state’s hardest-hit counties in the COVID-19 fight is seeking authority to reopen ahead of April 26.

Eagle County is seeking exemptions from some portions of the state’s COVID-19 executive and public health orders in an effort to boost morale and the county’s economy, according to an Eagle County bulletin released Saturday.

Gov. Jared Polis implemented those orders on March 25 as cases of COVID-19 topped 1,000 in the state. Eagle County, which has one of the highest rates of infections per capita in Colorado, has a total of 482 cases and six deaths as of Saturday.

Eagle County health officials sent a letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Thursday, asking the agency to grant the county authority to lift restrictions on social gatherings and the conditional reopening of non-essential businesses and outdoor recreation facilities.

“We have thousands of families living with risks to their food, shelter, and physical and mental health because they have lost their jobs,” said Commissioner Matt Scherr in the release. “Giving them an opportunity to earn a paycheck will be paramount to improving their families’ stability, reducing anxiety and depression, and starting our community down the road to recovery.”

County officials said they have consulted with medical care providers, elected officials, and community leaders across Eagle County before submitting the request, which is the first known Colorado county to make such an appeal.

Eagle County, which draws tourists from all over the world, said they are able to meet the following guidelines outlined in the American Enterprise Institute’s National Coronavirus Response, A Road Map to Reopening:

  • A sustained decrease in cases for at least 14 days.
  • Hospitals are safely able to treat patients without resorting to crisis standards of care.
  • Testing can be performed for all people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection.
  • Active monitoring can be accomplished for all COVID-19 cases and their contacts.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is expected to respond early next week.