In a letter sent to an attorney representing the Tri-County Health Department, Douglas County on Nov. 10 formally rescinded its notice to withdraw from the agency.
Douglas County commissioners voted to leave the agency on July 9, one day after the department’s board of health voted to impose a mask mandate on the county. The letter gave a one-year notice until the county would no longer receive services from the department.
Now, the county will remain with the agency until at least Dec. 31, 2022, according to the Nov. 10 letter, signed by the county’s attorney.
The county and the health department have been in negotiations about how to remain together since a few weeks after the commissioners announced their decision to leave, said Dr. John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County.
In July, commissioners said they planned to develop their own health department as a replacement to Tri-County.
“Effective immediately, our board directed staff to begin the work of creating a separate public health department that will appropriately meet the needs of Douglas County,” Roger Partridge, county commissioner, said in a news release at the time.
However, no formal decisions were ever made regarding forming a new health department.
The decision to rescind comes after Tri-County’s Board of Health voted to enact a new policy regarding implementing countywide health orders on Nov. 6.
The new policy allows elected officials to have more power in public health decisions. For future countywide decisions, elected officials will be consulted before they are put in place, will be given the opportunity to opt out of any order, and if an emergency order is put in place, they will be consulted as soon as possible.
Commissioners directed county attorney Lance Ingalls to send the letter rescidning the withdrawal in a Nov. 10 work session.