Headlines April 2, 2020
The Colorado Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the state legislature can resume the current session after the current break for the COVID 19 pandemic.
The Court was weighing in on whether the 120 day legislative session must conclude on May 6 as was originally scheduled, or whether lawmakers could resume work for the remaining 50 days after the current break and have the session end later.
The session was suspended on March 14 after Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency because of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The state’s constitution was amended in the 1980s to limit the session to 120 days. The general assembly then adopted a rule to say those days must run consecutively. In Wednesday’s 4 to 3 decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that an exception to that rule can be made when a public health emergency is declared that disrupts the session.
As of Wednesday evening, the state health department reports that 80 people have died in Colorado as a result of COVID 19. The latest figures from the state health department say that 3,342 have tested positive for the virus.
On Wednesday Governor Jared Polis said the state is working hard to get protective equipment for medical staff. Governor Polis said that the state is getting masks, gloves, gowns and other PPE directly from China.
Polis also extended the closure of schools across the state until April 30, although it is looking increasingly unlikely that schools will resume classes at all this school year.
The current state wide stay at home order is in effect until April 11. On Tuesday Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said he will extend the city’s stay-at-home order through April 30.
Some Colorado businesses have received citations for remaining open in defiance of the order.
The Denver Post reports that Hobby Lobby stores in Denver shut down this week after being cited by city inspectors for violating the order.
On Wednesday, the state’s attorney general’s office directed the founder and chief executive officer of Hobby Lobby to close all of its stores in the state.
The Post reports that The Appliance Factory Mattress Kingdom store remains open despite repeated citations. Citations can result in a $999 fine or jail time.
COVID 19 is present in 4 Boulder County senior living facilities. The Daily Camera reports that three residents of The Bridge at Longmont have tested positive for COVID-19 and all are hospitalized – one is in intensive care, while two more are listed as stable.
Two residents of the Frasier senior residential facility in Boulder have tested positive for COVID-19, but they reportedly have recovered and are doing well.
One resident of Balfour Cherrywood Village in Louisville has also tested positive and three people who live or work at Boulder Manor have tested positive as well.
The City of Aurora is expected to open a hotel on Thursday as a makeshift shelter for unhoused and housing-insecure individuals during the novel Corona Virus pandemic. The Aurora Sentinel reports that 120 beds will be available for individuals at an undisclosed location, in order to protect the privacy of those staying there. Beds will be filled on a referral basis for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 but are not able to adequately self-quarantine, either because they do not have a place of residence or because they do not have space to isolate themselves from co-habitants within their residence. The hotel is intended for people with medium to low medical needs, especially those who are discharged from local hospitals, as well as for folks who don’t require medical aid but are still contagious. Comitis Crisis Center will staff the hotel, with employees using medical-grade personal protective equipment. STRIDE Healthcare, which is also operating drive-up testing facilities for the general public, will tend to residents’ medical needs.
Shelley McKittrick, Aurora’s homelessness program director, told the Aurora Sentinel that the homeless population, as well as those who share rooms with others, are especially vulnerable to contracting the virus. Traditional shelters are often structured for high-density use, creating an ideal environment for an outbreak to occur within folks using a shelter’s services. So far, Aurora has not confirmed any cases among its homeless population. While the hotel setup will be expensive, McKittrick says it’s necessary in order to reduce the spread of the virus and support the Tri-County region of Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties. The operation will occur for at least two months, with the Salvation Army working to provide meals for residents.
Colorado will receive about $285 million from the Federal Transit Administration to support local transit in the COVID 19 crisis. Westword reports that the bulk of the money, $232 million, will go to Denver’s Regional Transportation District. RTD will cut service significantly on April 19 due to the drastic fall in ridership in recent weeks. The federal money can be used for any operations costs associated with COVID-19.