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'Resulting Deaths Will Be Tragic': Health Care Leaders Oppose Reopening Weld County

WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) -- Health care leaders in Colorado have authored a stern letter to Weld County officials, expressing their concern the move to reopen.

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Weld County is one of the hardest hit counties in Colorado, with close to 1,500 known cases. That's more than places like Jefferson County, which has 250,000 more people.

The letter comes from the leaders of several major Colorado hospitals and health care organizations.

They wrote to county commissioners, in part: "Opening too soon or without a staged plan will negate the community, individuals, and businesses' hard sacrifices to-date... and lead to widespread, severe illness that our health care system cannot handle. The resulting deaths will be tragic."

Weld County Commissioner At Large Kevin Ross told CBS4 the decision to reopen should be left to individual business owners -- with no restrictions as to which industries could reopen.

RELATED: Weld County Encourages Businesses To Reopen Monday

However, Gov. Jared Polis threatened to revoke emergency funding to Weld County if the county allowed businesses to operate outside of state guidelines. Under state guidelines, restaurants and bars are still restricted from fully reopening.

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Polis also said the state could revoke business licenses from those companies that are not in compliance with state rules.

"If any a county is not treating this like the emergency it is then they risk losing emergency funds," Polis said in a media briefing on Friday. "(Allowing businesses to open improperly) is endangering the lives of residents in Weld County. And, as Governor, I will have to prevent that to protect people in Weld County."

Polis encouraged counties wanting to defy state regulations to apply for an exception.

The state of Colorado shifted from a stay-at-home order to a "Safer At Home" phase on Monday, but multiple counties have chosen to extend safety closures through May 8.

RELATED: Latest Updates On The Coronavirus Outbreak In Colorado

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