Headlines May 1, 2020
A large homeless encampment in Five Points in Denver was cleared on Thursday despite guidance from the Center for Disease control that says not to break up camps as that disperses people who are potentially infected with COVID-19 into the community and severs their ties with service providers.
The Denverite reports that the city said they were concerned that the public right of way was being blocked and that health and safety was being undermined as the area became increasingly hazardous.
At least 200 people experiencing homelessness in Denver have tested positive for COVID-19, including some at the recently opened shelter for men at the National Western Center’s Hall of Education.
Advocates for the homeless and other groups including the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado had called for the cleanup to be cancelled as a matter of public health and human dignity.
They’re calling on Denver city officials to prioritize finding housing for those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today is May Day or International Workers day and labor unions and community groups from Denver will be rallying on line to demand that Governor Polis support canceling rent amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual rally is part of a nationwide movement calling for rent and mortgages to be canceled for the millions of Americans being impacted economically by the pandemic.
People can sign up for the Colorado virtual cancel rent rally happening today at bit.ly/CancelRentCO
Open space officials in communities around the Front Range say trails are being damaged by overuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement yesterday that was cosigned by parks and open space officials from around the metro area, problems were identified like damage to plants due to people going off trail, into out of bounds sensitive areas and overusing certain areas.
People are being asked to avoid high use trails, practice social distancing on trails while respecting the boundaries of the trails and to wear masks while recreating on open space.
Overuse of trails and open space has been an ongoing problem during the pandemic. Last week Governor Polis advised people to recreate within ten miles of their home.
Governor Polis signed several executive orders late Thursday, related to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Denver Post reports that one order cuts government spending in the state by more than $228 million.
The cuts don’t impact salaries or cause layoffs, rather they seek to minimize travel for conferences and could lead to some projects being delayed.
The other executive orders limit evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs during the pandemic.
Governor Polis has not supported a rent freeze despite a call from Denver City Council and growing numbers of non- profits to enact one. The executive order instead gives increased protections to renters including stopping landlords from assessing fees for nonpayment; directing landlords to notify tenants in writing of their federal eviction and foreclosure protections, and it directs state agencies to work with property owners and landlords on creating new agreements to allow tenants additional time to repay rent.
Another executive orders signed last night increases government funding for residential nursing homes to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
A new report shines a spotlight on how children in Colorado are doing. The annual report from the Colorado Children’s Campaign warned that despite the expansion of full-day kindergarten in 2019, participation in pre-school programs is at 50% and remains barely changed from ten years ago.
The 2020 Kids Count in Colorado report shows that child poverty in Colorado is slightly below the national rate, and has not dropped below 10% in two decades. The report also found that the total number of children in Colorado decreased for the first time in decades, indicating a decline in fertility rates. In particular, birth rates among teenagers fell due to the availability of long-acting reversible contraception.
Other findings show that 44% of children in Colorado are non-white while 87% of teachers are white. The poverty rate among Black and Latinx children is 3-4 times that of White children. Although Black and Latinx children saw relatively large increases in pre-kindergarten enrollment, their participation still lags behind White children. The report largely measured data from before the COVID-19 pandemic but there are indications showing that the disease could negatively impact children’s health and well-being.
Residents of Denver will soon be required to wear face masks or face coverings in public. The Denverite reports that on a zoom call with local officials on Thursday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock indicated that he will soon issue an executive order on the issue.
During yesterday’s call Hancock said people will be able to comply by either wearing a face mask or a face coverings, like a bandanna. People who can’t wear masks due to health reasons would be exempt from the order.
This comes after Boulder City Council this week passed an ordinance requiring face coverings. The measure will require customers and clients of businesses to cover their mouths and noses in workplaces and spaces of “public accommodation” with a mask or other face covering such as a bandana.