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March 14, 2020

Boulder County declares local disaster emergency in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The formal declaration will allow access to additional local, state, and federal resources for Boulder County

In support of the recommendation by the Boulder County Emergency Manager and the Boulder County Public Health Director, the chair of the Board of County Commissioners today declared a formal local disaster emergency in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).*

“Just as we did in the 2013 Flood, we are looking for all available resources to help us address the growing community needs in Boulder County around this global health crisis,” said Board of Boulder County Commissioners Chair, Deb Gardner. “Our teams of dedicated staff and public officials are working around the clock to meet our local needs for assistance and ensure that the concerns of our residents are being fully addressed."

With this official declaration, Boulder County can actively build capacity to add to the response resources and systems already committed to this pandemic response locally. The disaster declaration further allows us to access emergency funds if needed, create policies to remove obstacles and activate additional capabilities and resources to address needs and ensure the continuity of government and our healthcare infrastructure.

“We are working diligently to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Boulder County and this declaration will provide additional support to ensure we can meet the individual needs of our communities,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health director.

“The purpose of declaring a local disaster is to increase our ability to respond to and address the health and welfare needs in our community,” said Boulder Office of Emergency Management Director Mike Chard.

"As exposure to people contracting the virus has increased -- throughout the country, the State of Colorado, and locally -- the disruptions to Boulder County are wider and deeper than two weeks ago," added Chard. "As a result, we are putting in place all possible structural response capabilities to help mitigate the growing impacts on our community."

Due to the complications of growing community spread of the coronavirus, we encourage all county residents to continue to do your part to help minimize the spread of the disease:

Personal Preparation

We as individuals and families can prepare and practice now.

Getting ready for widespread disease is largely about preparing for possible shortages. Here are some things you can do:

Continue to Take Everyday Wellness Actions

  • Clean your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Get an annual flu vaccine if you have not had one.

Gather a Few Extra Supplies

  • Try to get an extra months’ worth of prescription medications, if possible, in case there are supply chain disruptions.
  • Slowly start to stock up on enough non-perishable food to last your household through two weeks of staying at home if there is a wave of transmission in the community.

Plan for Closures & Changes

  • Think about how you will continue to work if your child’s school is closed.
  • Understand that your plans to participate in large gatherings may be cancelled.
  • Think through how you will take care of sick family members while trying not to get infected.
  • Make plans for childcare if you become sick, or when your child is sick.
  • Talk to your children about what they might expect.
  • Cross-train key staff at work so one person’s absence won’t derail your organization’s ability to function.

Practice Good Hygiene

  • Start practicing not touching your face now. This can greatly reduce the frequency of potential spread. (You can even try a buddy system, where you and a friend remind each other when someone scratches their eyelid or rubs their nose.)
  • Replace handshakes with elbow-bumps.
  • Start building healthy habits like pushing elevator buttons with a knuckle instead of a fingertip.
  • Avoid sharing e-cigarettes, drinks, etc.
  • Increase regular cleaning of frequently-touched items (e.g. doorknobs, faucet handles, etc.)
  • Use a cleaning product effective for COVID-19

A full copy of the local disaster emergency declaration is printed below. A scanned copy is available here.

Boulder County Public Health has COVID-19 updates, information and resources online at Emergency updates will be posted at Boulder Office of Emergency Management at:


WHEREAS, the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic is causing widespread human and economic impacts to unincorporated Boulder County, Colorado; and

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 Pandemic is causing a public health emergency in unincorporated Boulder County by generating multiple disruptions and impacts on healthcare infrastructure and continuity of Boulder County government that may cause delays or interrupt capacity to deliver necessary services; and

WHEREAS, the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management has advised the Board of County Commissioners of Boulder (Board) of a disaster (as the term is defined in the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act, § 24-33.5-701 et seq., C.R.S.) currently present in the unincorporated area of Boulder, Colorado, to wit, the occurrence of imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic requiring emergency action to avert danger or damage; and

WHEREAS, it is appropriate and in the interests of the public health and safety to rapidly address community spread of COVID-19 and subsequent cascading impacts such as economic distress, and would further protect the health and safety of the public, to declare an emergency in unincorporated Boulder County; and

WHEREAS, the cost and magnitude of responding to and recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic is far in excess of Boulder County’s available resources; and

WHEREAS, declaration of a local disaster emergency will assist and permit access to local emergency funds, Federal and State assistance, adjustments to policies, procedures, and ordinances to ensure the public’s health and welfare; and

WHEREAS, the Boulder County Emergency Manager and Boulder County Public Health Director have recommended that a local disaster be declared; and

WHEREAS, the Chair of the Board, as principal executive officer of Boulder County, is authorized to unilaterally declare a local disaster pursuant to § 24-33.5-709, C.R.S., and to activate the emergency management and operations plans and resolutions of Boulder County.


  1. There is hereby declared to be a local disaster emergency in the unincorporated area of Boulder County, Colorado, to wit, the occurrence of imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury or loss of life or property, resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic requiring emergency action to avert danger or damage.
  2. The effect of this Declaration shall be to activate the response and recovery aspects of any and all applicable local and inter-jurisdictional disaster emergency plans and to authorize the furnishing of aid and assistance under such plans.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the principal executive officers of all cities and towns in Boulder County affected by said disaster are urged to proclaim similar declarations and to cooperate with Boulder County as necessary to address the emergency conditions.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Declaration shall be effective upon the date and time given below, and shall remain in effect for a period of seven days unless rescinded or extended by the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners prior to expiration.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that true copies shall be promptly filed with the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder and the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, and shall be promptly distributed to the appropriate representatives of the news media.

Signed and effective this 14th day of March, 2020, at 2:10 p.m.



Deb Gardner, Chair

* The declaration, signed by the chair of the Board of Boulder County Commissioners, will be considered for ratification by the full Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Boulder county Board of County Commissioners