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Jeffco Health Department mum on Stop the COVID Chaos rally which drew thousands to Bandimere

CDPHE: Large events can result in transmission
bandimere speedway rally.jpeg
Posted at 11:01 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 10:01:23-04

DENVER -- The people who attended a rally Tuesday at Bandimere Speedway looked like they were attending a July 4th race event, not a protest.

They waved American flags and hugged each other as an act of defiance against state and county COVID-19 restrictions, which include a ban on large gatherings.

But Jefferson County Public Health, the agency responsible for enforcing the ban, has not made any public comments in the 24 hours since the rally.

"This is a great example of what an actual peaceful protest looks like," Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Douglas County, said during the rally.

The political rally, called Stop the COVID Chaos, drew thousands of people to the speedway, just north of Morrison Road, along C-470.

Participants said they showed up to support the Bandimere family, which has owned and operated the business for 63 years.

Last week, the family patriarch, John Bandimere, told Denver7 the state's COVID-19 restrictions are "excessive."

"We've negotiated, we've compromised," Bandimere said. "We've practically begged the Jefferson County Health Department to allow us to... just run our business."

Video of the event left some people asking if the rally put people at risk. It showed large crowds, little social distancing and few masks. But rally participants didn't see any danger.

"COVID is a concern, but I don't think it should be restrictive to the point of hindering lives," said Brian Albee.

Rep. Neville questioned why no one tries to stop the Black Lives Matter protests over COVID-19 concerns, but are raising questions about the Stop the COVID Chaos rally.

"If they (county/state) come back and are very punitive on Bandimere for having what was a peaceful protest, yet there were vandals that were throwing molotov cocktails that were totally let off the hook (during BLM protests)," Neville said.

During a COVID-related Zoom news conference Wednesday morning, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the State Epidemiologist, was asked if rallies and protests are unsafe.

"Anytime there are a large number of individuals at an event, there is risk of transmission," she said. "Obviously we know the risk of transmission can be decreased with social distancing practices and mask wearing, but even with those strategies, we know that large events can result in transmission."

Denver7 also reached out to Bandimere's attorney for comment about this story. We have not heard back.