State Rep. Richard Champion, R-Columbine Valley, became the latest Colorado politician to demand the lifting of a public health order, writing to Tri-County Health Department's executive director Dr. John Douglas on April 27 to allow Arapahoe County to join Douglas County in an exemption from an extended stay-at-home order.
Champion represents House District 38, which includes Littleton, western Centennial, Bow Mar and Columbine Valley. Champion, the former mayor of Columbine Valley, was appointed to the seat by a GOP vacancy committee in February after Rep. Susan Beckman stepped down to take a federal post.
“It's now beginning to look like the 'cure' (quarantine) has proven to be worse than the illness itself on numerous levels,” Champion wrote, saying mental and physical health issues are on the rise, and saying extended lockdowns promote “civil disobedience and disregard for law and order.”
Gov. Jared Polis lifted a statewide stay-at-home order on April 27, switching to an order called “safer at home” — similar to the stricter order, though allowing businesses to reopen under stringent guidelines.
Tri-County Health Department, which covers Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, re-enacted their own stay-at-home order, extended until May 8. After pushback from Douglas County commissioners, who said the county has seen far lower rates of COVID-19 than Arapahoe and Adams counties, the department allowed Douglas County to be exempted from the extended order.
Champion joins officials from several other Colorado counties and municipalities calling for the lifting of public health orders. Weld County announced in late April it would allow businesses to decide for themselves whether to reopen. Polis responded by threatening to revoke the business licenses of businesses that did not comply with state guidelines.
Tri-County Health Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As of April 27, Arapahoe County had seen 2,105 known cases of COVID-19 and 99 deaths, according to Tri-County Health data — the second-highest number of cases in Colorado, behind only Denver County. Arapahoe County has the seventh-highest per capita case rate in Colorado, according to the state health department.
Douglas County had 451 cases and 21 deaths, according to Tri-County Health, the 25th-highest per capita rate in the state. Adams County had seen 1,294 cases and 44 deaths.
Champion wrote that he has spoken to business owners and employees eager to return to work, and calling the economic fallout of the lockdowns “unwarranted.”
Champion said other countries that have merely enacted public health advisories rather than lockdowns are thriving, and called dire predictions of high death tolls “off base” and “unsubstantiated.”
He added that by now, Coloradans have learned how to protect their health, and said high-risk groups like “the metabolically challenged with preexisting illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension” know they should practice social distancing and self-isolation.
“People are smart — give them some modicum of credit, and stop playing Big Brother,” Champion wrote. “It's time to let free people show how they can fight infection and produce the wealth that is essential to good health — and get back to work!”
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