Despite no Aurora-DougCo businesses, some Aurora lawmakers want to ignore new mask mandate

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AURORA | A group of sitting and newly-elected Republican Aurora City Council members  are requesting the city disregard a new mask mandate for Adams and Arapahoe counties because it doesn’t cover a sliver of residents in Douglas County, which has no public establishments. 

The mask mandate, which goes into effect Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., requires all people ages 2 and older to wear a face covering in all public indoor places. 

The council members all signed a letter, saying it would cause inequity about where in Aurora the mask mandate would be required and where it wouldn’t. There are, however, no commercial businesses in the Douglas County portion of Aurora, according to city data.

The letter said the Tri-County measure “has placed the City of Aurora in a situation where the new mandate will not evenly apply to all our city’s residents.”

The mandate, however, only applies to public indoor places, such as restaurants, retail stores, gyms and other public places, according to language in the measure, and there aren’t any in the Aurora portion of Douglas County. Any of those residents shopping, dining or visiting public indoor places in Arapahoe or Adams counties would be required to wear a mask.

Denver, Jefferson County , Boulder County and Adams and Arapahoe counties will all soon be under a new mask mandate. Douglas County pulled out of Tri-County Health earlier this year, and is now handling all of its own pandemic management.

Gov. Jared Polis, speaking during an update to statewide media Tuesday afternoon, questioned the move by Aurora lawmakers to back away from a mask mandate.

“I wouldn’t be looking at ZIP codes or geographical lines,” in creating mask mandate policy, Polis said.

While Adams County has also pulled out of Tri-County, it’s still under the new mask mandate order.

“We believe that in order to maintain a consistent enforcement policy across our city, in all three counties, with differing mask requirements, that Aurora should continue to follow guidelines set forth by the State of Colorado as it relates to the issue of mask mandates,” the group wrote in the letter to city management.

With no public businesses or facilities in Aurora in Douglas County, the measure would not be applicable to anything there.

Council member-elects Steve Sundberg, Dustin Zvonek and Danielle Jurinsky joined council members Francoise Bergan, Curtis Gardner and Mayor Mike Coffman in signing the letter, which was posted on social media Tuesday.

About 0.6% of the population of Aurora lives in Douglas County and will be under that county’s new health department’s jurisdiction. The split was something Aurora city lawmakers tried to avoid. Coffman introduced a resolution this summer asking county officials to stay opted in to Tri-County Health. 

“I really want to keep it together and it’s the best interest of the city and the tax payers in the entire region,” he told the Sentinel after introducing the measure. Only council member Marsha Berzins voted “no” on the resolution urging the counties to stick with the one health agency. 

“I understand that some of the decisions were controversial, but they also helped to navigate us through a very difficult time where I felt they were making the best decisions with the information they had,” he said.

City spokesperson Michael Brannen said in a statement that Aurora city management hasn’t officially received the mask mandate order from Tri-County Health. “Once the city has received the order, we will review it with our legal department, and determine our role with the order.”

Aurora has not instituted its own mask mandate at any time throughout the pandemic. Monday evening city council members returned to the Aurora Municipal Center for the first time in 20 months, though at a limited capacity. Masks were optional.

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Ellen Woo
Ellen Woo
7 days ago

This is certainly a GOP move (although the council and mayor are supposed to be non-partisan); this show the disregard and lack of respect for the people/the community and public health and the lack of accountability that is going to be shown by these signees; public health should be the first priority; 2 years later and the state is in a worse condition regarding COVID; the city has no jurisdiction over county public health orders; would this same response be if e.coli were found in one the signees business??? stop the senseless rhetoric!!! from the signees! how many lives are they going to deny that have been taken by ignorance and lies? show respect and regard for others! and stop being the people of greed! this is one of the reasons Adams County chose to dissolve the relationship with Arapahoe County; Adams County=public health should be a priority

Kathy S
Kathy S
7 days ago

Seriously, these people are supposed to be civil servants. They should want to make the safety of others a priority. Is there an ulterior motive here? Is it just that these particular city council members don’t want to wear a mask during council meetings. As we saw on Monday night, some council members did not wear a mask potentially putting others at risk. I imagine it was those maskless council members requesting to disregard the mask mandate.
While no one enjoys wearing a mask, we should all do what we can to protect others as well as ourselves. City council members should set the example of good citizenship.

Doug King
Doug King
6 days ago

as usual, we have a lack of leadership (from the conservatives hollering FREEDOM!!!) just because that’s what they do. Regardless of science, regardless of facts, regardless of masks might actually work? (Surgeons have worn them for ages, wonder why??) but not Conservatives….also wonder why?

But if the politicians are afraid of the voters at least businesses are not!!!

The Metro Denver Partnership for Health sent the letter to Polis and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Ryan on Friday. The group includes Boulder County Public Health, the City and County of Broomfield, Denver Public Health and Environment, the Public Health Institute at Denver Health, Jefferson County Public Health and Tri-County Health Department whose directors signed the letter.

The health officials called for requiring proof of vaccination for patrons and staff in indoor areas considered high-risk such as bars, restaurants, gyms, sporting events and other large-group gatherings, and for requiring face coverings for those ages 2 and up in public indoor settings that don’t require vaccine passports.

“Implementing these mitigation strategies is urgently needed, in conjunction with expansion of access to no-cost monoclonal antibody treatments and other actions that relieve the health system, to protect Colorado’s already-compromised hospital capacity,” the letter stated. “These requirements must be statewide, given the statewide nature of Colorado’s shared hospital ecosystem.”