Headlines May 22, 2020

Headlines May 22, 2020

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The State of Colorado filed a lawsuit today in federal district court in Denver over efforts to change federal regulations that protect streams and wetlands.

According to a news release from the office of the Attorney General and the State health department the federal government is trying to redefine the term “waters of the United States” as it currently appears in the Clean Water Act. Currently the definition includes ephemeral streams—streams that run because of melting snow or precipitation—and wetlands that aren’t connected on the surface to larger bodies of water.

The federal government is trying to change the definition of “waters of the United States’ that would exclude those water bodies leave them vulnerable to pollution under the Clean Water Act.

The lawsuit filed today asks the court to maintain the definition that has in place since the 1980s.

Public education in Colorado could see a significant reduction in funding if a new proposed budget is approved by lawmakers. Chalkbeat Colorado reports that on Thursday afternoon the 6 members of the state’s joint budget committee cut more than 15% from the state’s $4.6 billion K-12 education budget.

The committee has been trying for the past two weeks to craft a state budget with $3.3 billion less available due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chalkbeat reports that the cuts to education include $147 million in grant programs and a $577 million reduction in base school funding.
Yesterday’s K-12 budget comes days after the JBC cut spending for higher education by 58%.

The Colorado House and Senate must still approve the budget. Lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene at the capitol next week for a short session.

The cuts will be mitigated somewhat by this week’s announcement of nearly $1 billion in federal money being allocated to Colorado schools.

Gov. Jared Polis on Monday announced that of the $1.67 billion the state is receiving in federal aid, a combined $510 million will go towards K-12 and $450 million for public higher education institutions.

Speaking earlier today Jeff Zayach, the Executive Director of Boulder County Public Health, said that the stay at home measures that had been in place has had a positive impact in the county’s capacity to deal with the coronavirus, but he reminded people that social distancing is crucial for the new safer at home phase to be effective.

“Maintaining that 6 foot of social distancing is our primary way of reducing the spread of this disease. That disease cannot spread unless we are maintaining close contact with each other,” said Zayach.

He advised that in situations where 6-foot social distancing can’t be maintained, face masks should be worn.

Zayach said that these measures are crucial for any further reopening in the county and rely on people taking responsibility for the actions.

“We don’t have enough staff in public health to assure that everybody is doing that and our police departments don’t have the staff, nor do we want to be enforcing and putting people in jail associated with not following these things, we want people to take responsibility,” he said.

Zayach cited the crowds that gathered at Boulder Creek earlier in the week as an example of what not to do.

 

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Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday that he anticipates restaurants will be able to reopen statewide by the middle or end of next week under new guidelines that will be finalized over the weekend.

Colorado Politics reports that Polis discussed the plans during an online town hall with restaurant owners.

Some of the guidelines that have already been drafted by the state include allowing limited indoor seating with tables being spaced 10 feet apart. Restaurants would be encouraged to create more outdoor seating in areas such as sidewalks and parking lots in accordance with local planning regulations.

Restaurants would have to take the temperature of every employee before shifts begin, anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 would be required to stay home. Parties would be limited to six diners, and employees would be required to wear face masks and gloves when interacting with customers and handling food.

A recent survey by the Colorado Restaurant Association estimated that the industry lost an estimated $975 million in April.

With the Memorial Day weekend here Governor Polis and local authorities are asking people to recreate responsibly outdoors on local trails. People are asked to stay close to home and to maintain social distancing.

The City of Boulder said yesterday it would partially reopen some outdoor recreation services.

The Park-to-Park shuttle will begin its service to Chautauqua on May 23, 2020. The city says the shuttle has implemented safety measures to help prevent the community spread of COVID-19.

Larger, full-sized buses will be used to allow for social distancing. Only 10 riders will be allowed on the bus at a time. All passengers will enter at the rear door and Face coverings are required for all passengers.

Boulder Reservoir will re-open on a very limited basis only to boat and small watercraft permit holders, and those with existing reservations.

The Rocky Mountain National Park says it plans to increase recreational access and services on May 27.
Some campgrounds will partially reopen in early June.

Trail Ridge Road will remain closed in an effort to curb the number of tourists who could potentially spread the novel coronavirus. According to the park’s website Trail Ridge Road is closed to all travel until further notice due to COVID-19.

Denver is opening a new drive-up COVID-19 testing site today. Mayor Michael Hancock said during a Thursday afternoon news conference, that the goal is to make sure everyone who needs testing is able to get it, and that no one will ask about citizenship status. This will be the state’s largest free community testing site.

Coloradans need to check the symptom tracker on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website to see they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19. You then must register online and bring a document verifying your name.

Those that qualify can get tested at the Pepsi Center in Denver from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Denver residents who are physically unable to make it to the testing site can call 311 to have a mobile unit sent to help.
Health officials in Aurora and Westminster also announced the opening of two free testing sites.

All testing centers will be closed on holidays, including Memorial Day.

For more information on the drive-up testing site or to make a reservation, go to denvergov.org.

Several schools in the St. Vrain Valley school district held car parades for students on Thursday, which was the last day of the school year.

In Longmont and Lyons cars with students and their families made their way around schools while teachers waved from the sidewalks.

Niwot High seniors and their families are holding a car parade to honor the Class of 2020 this afternoon at 4 p.m. The procession will begin at Niwot High School, travel west.