The Tragic Madness Of Weld County

UPDATE #2: The city of Greeley, the seat of Weld County, is not on board with the county’s”damn the torpedoes” approach to reopening the economy reports Denver7:

Despite the spat between Weld County and the governor, Greeley Mayor John Gates says the city, which is in Weld County, supports “safer at home” and will extend the closures of city facilities until June 2.

“Based on the medical and scientific data, and the high number of cases in Weld County, the City of Greeley strongly supports following the ‘Safer at Home’ philosophy,” Gates said in a statement. “This approach protects lives, flattens the curve, and is a step in the right direction for getting our community back to a fully operational economy.”

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UPDATE: Commissioner Eva Henry of neighboring Adams County says no way, Weld:

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Our original proposal for the flag of “Weldistan.”

9NEWS reported this morning on a plan by conservative Weld County, which has suffered a disproportionate number of illnesses and deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, at one point leading the state in COVID fatalities despite a fraction of the population of Denver and other much larger counties with fewer deaths. As of today Arapahoe County and Denver have pulled ahead in absolute numbers, but not in the death rate relative to population.

Despite this, Weld County is rushing ahead, they say, with a full reopening of the economy Monday including restaurants and other high-risk businesses:

The Weld County Board of Commissioners and the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment dubbed their strategy the “safer-at-work” plan, in clear contrast to the “safer-at-home” plan Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced earlier this week.

The chair of Weld County’s board of commissioners, Mike Freeman, told 1310 KFKA Radio that the county will not direct businesses to open, but it will provide guidelines for all of them to do so if they choose.

“This will be for businesses, in general, to open across the board,” he said. “I think the governor’s been pretty clear all along that his orders are unenforceable.” [Pols emphasis]

The Denver Post:

As of Thursday, Weld County had the third-highest total of COVID-19 infections and deaths among counties in Colorado, with a total of 1,263 cases and 70 deaths. The county also has seen deadly outbreaks at a meat-packing plant and several nursing homes…

State Sen. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, grew up in Weld County and still has scores of family members and friends there. If all these businesses reopen, she said she worries about their health and safety.

“It looks like these grandstanders in the Republican party are willing to put public health at risk to score political points,” Danielson said. “I find that despicable. My family and friends are at great risk. Weld County seniors are at greater risk, and today Weld County workers are at greater risk.”

Gov. Jared Polis’ response today makes clear that, although he may not be sending the proverbial troops in, Weld County is in the midst of a very bad idea:

It’s not clear what happens next, since the perpetually cantankerous government of Weld County seems determined to relax their restrictions without meeting any of the most common-sense criteria for doing so. Weld County is one of the hardest-hit locations in Colorado during this pandemic, making their determination to throw the doors open starting Monday an almost incomprehensible defiance of reason–not to mention abandonment of the sworn responsibility of elected officials to protect their constituents.

Led by Rep. Ken Buck, the former Weld County DA whose extreme minority votes against coronavirus relief legislation and lambasting of the stay-at-home orders made made him nationally infamous, Weld County’s already tragic experience with COVID-19 is being offered up now as some kind of twisted badge of courage. Surely if the people of Weld County, which has suffered so much disproportionate harm from the pandemic so far, are willing to defy Gov. Polis, state health officials, and the overwhelming scientific consensus to throw the doors open on Monday, the rest of us should “man up” and demand the same. And if we don’t, by God, Weld County is going ahead without us.

But unlike the much-lampooned failed secession attempt led by Weld County a few years ago, this act of self-destructive defiance is very likely to have needless deadly consequences. Although it feels bold and brave to those enraptured with misguided rebelliousness, and they put themselves at risk along with the voters who entrusted them to lead, what the elected leadership of Weld County is doing here is not bravery.

It is a devaluation of human lives.

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9 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Republican 36 says:

    Let's get one thing straight right off the bat here.  The Weld County Commissioners need to huddle with their county attorney.  In Colorado, counties are legally considered extensions of the state government.  While they have authority over certain matters they cannot defy or overturn the legal authority given to and exercised by the governor. 

    This is another one of those silly Republican ploys to defy our constitution, our laws, our public institutions, and our governing norms.  This has been a long time coming, ever since Reagan invited the so called "Religious Right" into the party in the 1980's.  The Republicans crawl up on the Cross, wrap themselves in the American flag, and claim to be the upholders of the principles elucidated by the Founders of our country, and then proceed to undermine every public institution in our country.  Institutions that have been developed over the past two hundred and fifty years. They certainly aren't conservatives.  Real conservatives work for gradual improvement of our institutions and laws while preserving those institutions.  The Republican Party today represents radical extremists pretending to be conservatives.

  2. gertie97 says:

    It's to be expected from the capital of Dumphuckistan. Not to worry, Weldies. Mesa County's commissioners are trying to catch up.

  3. Diogenesdemar says:

    Maybe they’re just being, you know, . . .

    . . . “sarcastic”???  In that cute and patriotic make-America-great-again kind of way??? 

    Everybody’s doin’ it!

  4. Here's what my City Council representative just posted on his Facebook page:

    Thank you your message. While I and the rest of the City Council really want to help the many families who are in dire need during the the current shutdown, I cannot disagree more strongly with your suggestion.

    While most of the state is working on a way to safely get people back to work without overwhelming our medical resources, Weld County has chosen to engage in an irresponsible, lawless, and immoral action. Weld County's actions will not be confined to Weld County. Larimer County hospitals are an "overflow" resource for neighboring counties. If Weld County manages to dramatically increase its infection rate with its foolish actions, then Larimer County will suffer. You and I and our loved ones may suffer, if we need any health care ourselves.

    I would encourage you instead to try to influence Weld County leadership to return to the much more balanced approach the state is attempting.

  5. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    “This will be for businesses, in general, to open across the board,” he said. “I think the governor’s been pretty clear all along that his orders are unenforceable.” [Pols emphasis]

    Perhaps I'm missing something … but I've not heard anything from the Governor hinting his orders were unenforceable. 

    Beyond a variety of state agencies who have enforcement powers (including the CDPHE), the Governor has specific powers during a declared emergency:  A  Denver Post article listed 9.   The last:  

    Call out the militia. The Colorado Constitution has designated the governor as the commander-in-chief for the state’s military forces and allows him to activate them — when they’re not in service to the U.S. — to “execute the laws, suppress insurrection, or repel invasion,”

     

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      The governor's orders are enforced by a death penalty.  There are no appeals.

    • kickshot says:

      Overkill.

      Weld County would make a great place to stage the first deployment of the Contract Tracing Corps. 

      Cruise the County with license plate readers and drones and give the data to Polis' big data friends. They shouldn't expect any privacy if they are going to behave like terrorists and endanger anyone and everyone.

      It should be able to prove the correlation between reopening and additional spikes in sickness and worse.

  6. Wyowy says:

    Weld County 

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