Headlines June 24, 2020

Headlines June 24, 2020

Listen here:

(Download Audio)

Speaking earlier today Governor Jared Polis said that people should continue to practice social distancing and to wear face masks to ensure that the state doesn’t see a large spike in COVID-19 cases. Polis encouraged people to minimize contact with other people and to avoid large gatherings during the upcoming July 4 holiday.

“We don’t want our Fourth of July holiday in Colorado to be what Memorial Day weekend was in Arizona and Florida and lead to a renewed round of twenty times the level of virus, where you get to the point where it could be overwhelming our healthcare facilities,” he said.

There have been some outbreaks of COVID-19 around the state including Boulder, El Paso County and Eagle County. Governor Polis said that public health officials are closely monitoring these local spikes because any one of them could lead to a community wide outbreak but he said it’s a reminder that all of our gains could be lost if we don’t continue to practice social distancing.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock today said that rate of COVID-19 infections in the city is stabilizing and staying low at 3%. He also said that hospitalizations are trending downward.

Speaking at a press conference this morning the mayor said that the city is continuing to focus on testing and contact tracing. He said on average the city is conducting more than 1100 tests a day.

The Pepsi Center in Denver hosts the state’s largest COVID-19 testing site, people can get tested at the drive up facility for free.

After this morning’s COVID-19 press conference, Denver homeless rights advocates had an impromptu meeting with the mayor after they unsuccessfully tried to get access the press briefing.

The Denverite reports that activists with the group Denver Homeless Out Loud and members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation pressed city leaders for a meeting that was also attended by City Council members Candi CdeBaca, Stacie Gilmore, Amanda Sandoval and Jamie Torres.

This morning’s action follows Monday night’s Denver City Council meeting when activists took over the first two hours to express their concerns about police brutality and to call for defunding the police department.

Today the protestors were raising concerns about the ongoing sweeps of homeless camps in the city.

According to a statement from Denver Homeless Out Loud, the City, under the Department of Public Health and Environment, had planned a sweep and closure of the encampment along 13th, 14th and Clarkson today. They say about 100 people without housing live at this encampment.

Trustees for Erie have extended the town’s moratorium on new oil and gas drilling. The Daily Camera reports that the trustees voted 6-1 on Tuesday to extend the moratorium for another six months to provide more time for town staff to be able to bring regulations to the board in October. The current moratorium was set to expire at the end of July.

Several Front Range communities have moratoriums on new drilling as the state formulates new regulations for the industry in the wake of legislation passed in 2019.


Listen here:

(Download Audio)

On Tuesday, Eagle County public health officials announced they are investigating a cluster of COVID-19 cases among teenagers and young adults after at least 11 people tested positive for the disease following social gatherings.

The Denver Post reports, however, that investigators who are performing contact-tracing have found some individuals and families unwilling to isolate at home or share details of the events where people may have been exposed.

That information is important to prevent the spread of the disease, according to the county health department.

The new cases in Eagle county comes a week after local health officials announced a spike in cases in Boulder County following recent college parties, protests and travel.

Colorado reported 160 new cases of the virus on Tuesday — more than on the same day a week before, but still relatively low.

The Colorado Hospital Association reported 141 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of yesterday morning. No one was reported to have died of the virus Monday, though death reports can be delayed.

Law enforcement agencies and first responders have received a renewed flood of calls and emails urging a further investigation into the death of Elijah McClain.

McClain was a 23 year-old black man who died just days after Aurora first responders detained him while he was walking home from a convenience store last summer. Aurora Fire Department paramedics injected McClain with ketamine while police personnel held him on the ground.

Since June 7 the office of Adams County District Attorney Dave Young has received more than 10,000 emails and 1,000 voicemails regarding the McClain case, according to a spokesperson.

The Sentinel reports that DA Young’s office cleared the officers involved in detaining McClain of any wrongdoing.

Governor Jared Polis’s office has also received phone calls and emails about the case. In a statement provided Tuesday evening, a spokesperson for Gov. Jared Polis hinted that DA Young should endeavor to take action to mend public trust.

Meanwhile, four police officers from across the country appeared in front of Aurora residents last night explaining why each of them is best suited to serve as the next chief of police.  The candidates spent more than two hours fielding questions from citizens on topics ranging from independent reviews to defunding police across the country.

An economics professor at CU Boulder is being accused of making racist and sexist remarks on Facebook.

Professor Phil Graves commented on a post discussing a Daily Camera story, in which the original poster referenced Boulder Valley School District data that shows students of color get referred to law enforcement at double or triple the rate of their white peers.

Graves said quote “That is only a ‘problem’ if they do not commit crimes at 2-3 times the rate of other students. Any evidence of that?”

The original poster, Katie Farnan, responded to Graves, asking if he needed evidence to show that Black and Latin American people are less criminal than white people. Graves responded, “Yes.”

The posts were in a private Facebook group, called Boulder Collective, that has more than 12,000 members.

Additionally, Graves posted a response to an article about Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, saying that he thought she was “pretty hot,” and if she were a normal bartender he would probably be interested, but, he continued, she is not as bright as most bartenders and far too convinced that her opinions actually matter.

In an email, Graves told the Daily Camera he suspects people are just trying to “cancel” him.

The original poster, Katie Farnan asked “How much more time should we spend arguing about this than calling it out, especially knowing [Graves is] someone with authority and knowing he’s responsible for students?”

The Daily Camera reports that Graves’s remarks have been reported to the university and have also been condemned by the Boulder County Democratic Part.

Voters in Louisville could see two ballot measures in November both of which are aimed at helping the environment and would create new taxes.

The Daily Camera reports that the first initiative is a single-use bag tax, which could apply to all retailers in the city. Councilmembers voiced approval of creating a similar tax to Boulder’s.

The second possible ballot measure is a community renewable energy initiative.

According to staff, the city would need to spend more than $600,000 for 2021, which equates to approximately $80 per household. The council discussed ways this could be funded, and settled upon a climate tax.

Councilmember Jeff Lipton said he was concerned about asking residents for additional money because of the pandemic.

A first reading on the initiatives could occur during the Council’s July 14 meeting.

State testing has again shown that water wells in the Sugarloaf Fire Protection District contain levels of a contaminant known as PFAS.

Of 10 tests, four indicated levels above the safety standard, according to Joseph Malinowski, the division manager of environmental health for Boulder County.

The compound, which has been used in firefighting foam had shown up in the area in 2018.

The Daily Camera reports that the Sugarloaf district was one of four in the state that exceed the EPA health advisory for PFAS. The other three are  Buckley Air Force Base, along Sand Creek and at the Suncor oil refinery in Adams County, and around Colorado Springs.

In an email, Malinawski said that the county is proposing to do additional testing in July to delineate the extent of the contamination plume in Sugarloaf.