Alamosa County angered by state’s denial of variance request


ALAMOSA — The Alamosa County Board of County Commissioners on Monday cited “irreparable harm” to its residents at the hands of the state officials after the state health department decided to delay a granting of variance — or exception to Safer-At-Home guidelines — to the county. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment replied to Alamosa’s request for a variance with a letter Saturday. ADVERTISING

“We would like the opportunity to con- tinue to monitor data related to the agricultural facility outbreaks in Alamosa and the surrounding region before making a final determination on your variance request,” CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan stated in Saturday’s note. In a press release distributed Monday by Jordan Kemp, Alamosa County’s Deputy Director of Public Health, the Alamosa County Commissioners’ resentment was clear.

“The Board of County Commissioners express their continued frustration and disappointment with the lack of understanding regarding the needs and circumstances of rural Colorado and the San Luis Valley in particular by CDPHE and the Governor’s policy group. Their continued inaction continues to cause irreparable harm to the citizens of our community. Numerous counties across the state have been granted a variance, and in some cases multiple variances. It is now time for the Governor’s Office to do the same for us!”

Currently, only one location is listed for Alamosa County in CDPHE’s Outbreak Data page. Colorado Mushroom Farm was listed as an outbreak center on May 6th. The state’s data page shows 16 staff members have lab-confirmed positive test results for Covid-19.

“When we evaluate variance applications,” CDPHE spokesperson Ian Dickson told CBS4 Monday, “we follow a framework designed to make sure that our decisions are fair and science-based. This framework takes into account factors such as the prevalence of COVID-19, whether cases are increasing, test positivity data, and proposed containment measures including how the county will contain the threat of an outbreak.

"Due to ongoing outbreaks in the San Luis Valley, Alamosa County’s application did not meet the threshold for approval, so we informed the county that we would monitor the situation for now.” The only public health orders presently enacted in Alamosa County are those from Colorado Governor Jared Polis’s Safer-AtHome policies, per the county.

Alamosa County’s Kemp did not respond by this writing to a CBS4 email requesting examples of the harm done to residents by the current health guidelines. Any response or examples will be shown once provided.

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