Montrose, CO— The Montrose Board of County Commissioners approved a variance application requesting permission to follow different guidelines than the state’s Safer at Home Order. The application approval came today in a joint Board of County Commissioners and Board of Health meeting. Following the meeting, the application was submitted to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Governor of the State of Colorado. The variance application seeks to allow limited capacity operations for restaurants (in-person dining), churches, and gyms.
“This is a data-driven decision. Montrose County has been continually tracking local and statewide data since March. Our hospital and public health team have done an exceptional job of testing and our rate of testing has remained well above the state average for the duration of this event,” said Commissioner Sue Hansen. “We’ve invested in bringing on a Pandemic Response Specialist in Dr. Adragna and he has been phenomenal in tracking and modeling data and remaining in constant contact with the medical community. We’ve coordinated extensively with our partners and we know where we are at as a community. It was a group decision to apply for this waiver and it is one that is supported by the Board, hospital, public health and the community at large.”
“It’s time to allow people to make their own decisions about where they feel comfortable. We don’t have a steady increase in cases in our community. People need to get back to work, church, and life on their terms,” said Commissioner Roger Rash. “I absolutely don’t want to see innocent people subject to fines and penalties for doing things that have always been their right. I don’t take this lightly. My wife is just finishing another course of maintenance treatment for cancer. She and I are going to continue to be vigilant about where we go and how we interact. You’re not going to see us sitting in a restaurant or at the gym next week. That’s our reality and a reality for many others. That doesn’t mean that the world should shut down on our behalf. This board supports safety and we support business and individual choice. We think this waiver is a big step towards restoring individual choices in this community.”
The variance application received support from the following: Montrose Memorial Hospital; Montrose County Pandemic Specialist and Public Health Medical Adviser Dr. Joe Adragna, MD, MHA, MGH, FAAFP; local law enforcement; the City of Montrose, and state legislators. The variance application is similar to Mesa County’s approved application and Delta County’s pending application, which (if approved), will help alleviate regional confusion in regard to public health orders.
Chair Keith Caddy voiced his support as he stated, “the state set standards for variances in anticipation that local conditions may warrant fewer restrictions. We feel that we’ve absolutely proven that Montrose can safely resume some normalcy without causing a threat to public health. The businesses that have been shut down deserve a chance to reopen as soon as possible because they have a tough road ahead. I want to remind people that if you are uncomfortable going somewhere, don’t go. This isn’t a mandate to do anything. We’re all going to have to make choices in the weeks and months ahead about how we protect ourselves. In the meantime, we don’t want to the business community and the public to suffer any further adverse impact when our hospital and public health experts don’t think the full weight of the Safer at Home order is necessary.”
As a reminder, it is an application for a variance and still requires approval from the state. Businesses and residents should continue to follow state guidelines. For more information on COVID-19 in Montrose County, please visit www.montrosecountyjic.com.