Boulder City Council Conducts Emergency COVID-19 Meeting

Boulder City Council held an emergency meeting last night to hear updates from local health officials and staff about COVID-19, initiate local closures, and decide how to proceed with future meetings. The emergency session replaced the meeting that was to be held tonight discussing possible creation of a library district.

Listen to the report below:

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To abide by distancing recommendations, the councilmembers and staff sat far away from each in council chambers, with two members calling in to the meeting. Council determined that Boulder will follow the state’s example and close all restaurants and bars, gyms and theaters for 30 days. Take-out, drive-through and delivery of food will be permitted. Gatherings will be limited to 20 people on city-owned land, but may be lowered to groups of 10 depending on the spread of the new coronavirus. The city manager has the power to institute such restrictions during states of emergency, which the city declared on Saturday.

In a presentation to council, Jeff Zayach executive director of the Boulder County Public Health Department confirmed seven positive or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Boulder County. He encouraged council to proceed with public closures.

“Every one of those decisions has a significant impact in our communities,” said Zayach. “It’s extremely sad we’re at this point, but it’s the best way to control the disease. It will have impacts on people who don’t have access to services and businesses that don’t have resources to pay their employees. It’s really a no-win situation.”

Regarding those experiencing homelessness in the community, councilmembers were told Navigation Services on 30th Street – a resource for those trying to exit homelessness – has been moved to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless on north Broadway. A support facility for homeless residents experiencing symptoms of the illness and awaiting testing, is likely to be set up at either the East Boulder Recreation Center or Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont.

Mayor Sam Weaver wanted to know from Robert Vissers, the CEO of Boulder Community Health if the Boulder Hospital feels it can handle what could be a huge influx of patients.

“I think the short answer is right now, we can,” said Vissers. “But it all depends on the numbers and where this peaks and how many really sick people we have all at once. Which means anything we can do right now, very aggressively to mitigate the spread, we’re much better prepared.”

Council also discussed how to prevent evictions given anticipated widespread temporary job losses in the community, especially for food service and hospitality workers.

City Manager Jane Brautigam assured the community that essential city services, including water delivery and processing, law enforcement and fire rescue agencies will be operating. Council will likely have future meetings to discuss COVID-19, but they will be held remotely until further notice.