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Mesa County granted variance to Colorado's 'safer at home' order

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Posted at 6:10 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 20:10:24-04

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has given Mesa County the green light to implement a slightly modified plan from the statewide safer at home guidelines.

The reprieve will allow three major sectors like gyms, restaurants and places of worship to begin soon operating at a limited capacity if they choose to do so. The county is working on recommendations, including social distancing precautions for each industry, once a timeline is determined.

Guidelines for all other sectors in Mesa County align with state recommendations, including the restriction of businesses to having only 50% of their workforce on-site and the stay-at-home advisement for all people who are 65 or older or are immunocompromised.

Mesa County health officials said they would continue to monitor virus activity in the area and are prepared to implement additional restrictions if necessary.

In a letter to the governor, leaders of the Western Slope county sought authority to reopen on their own timeline earlier in the month, arguing that the state's guidelines would be too restrictive considering the county's relativity low number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Mesa County Commissioners Scott McInnis, Rose Pugliese, and John Justman had sent a separate letter to Polis April 20, saying they were disappointed over the "massive lack of communication and coordination" in the state's decision to lease the Western Slope Memory Care facility as an alternative care facility for COVID-19 patients.

In that letter, commissioners stated that the facility is not needed based on the low number of hospitalizations in the county, and they were "denied the opportunity to have proper planning time to mitigate and to keep our community safe and informed."

The Western Slope Memory Care Facility was designated as one of the state's alternative care sites to treat COVID-19 patients.