Aurora region readies for possible ‘stay-at-home’ health order, city officials say

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AURORA | A so-called “stay-at-home order” is taking shape for the greater Aurora region. Local city leaders say a decision by the Tri-County Health Department is anticipated to be made possibly within the next day.

A spokesman from Tri-County Health could not confirm whether the department’s director, Dr. John Douglas, is in the process of drafting an order. But several city staff and Aurora Council members acknowledged the potential order in a phone meeting among city council members on Monday afternoon.

The potential order was apparently a topic of discussion on a separate phone meeting with Tri-County Health leaders earlier in the day.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman told the city council during the phone meeting, which the Sentinel obtained credentials to, that he believes the order will be made within the next 24 hours and that Douglas is working with other regional counties to get “everybody in sync as much as possible.”

Coffman also said he spoke with Gov. Jared Polis earlier in the day and encouraged unanimity among counties on health orders and that a “patchwork” of orders would not be good.

In a request for comment about the potential ramifications for multiple different orders taking place across the metro region, a Polis spokesman returned a statement saying, “…The Governor thanks local leaders making strong moves to reduce the spread of the virus in communities across our state.”

Polis stopped short of a stay-at-home order on Sunday, instead opting to order all non-critical employers to reduce in-person workforce by 50 percent “to the greatest extent possible” starting Tuesday.

A day later, staying home no longer became a request to Denver residents, but instead a demand.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a state-at-home order for the city and county of Denver on Monday morning and then later relaxed rules to allow for liquor and retail cannabis stores to remain open only if “extreme social distancing precautions” are taken by those businesses. 

It’s not yet clear what an order for the Tri-County region would look like, and it’s not likely the City of Aurora would make its own. Denver operates differently than Aurora because it’s both a city and a county, which allows city leaders to make public health decisions. 

For Aurora, those decisions are made by Tri-County Health, which governs health in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties. Coffman told the Sentinel in a statement last week he was communicating closely with Tri-County Health about new guidances and orders.

Even without a current health order, Aurora leaders are urging residents to stay home. 

“While there is not a ‘Stay at Home’ order in place in Aurora at this moment, the city advises residents to do just that,” city of Aurora spokeswoman Kim Stuart said in a statement. “Unless you are reporting to an essential job or are out to meet essential needs for yourself or your family, it is important to stay home.”