Headlines July 31, 2020

Headlines July 31, 2020

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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock today warned that he will roll back reopenings if the numbers of coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Denver has a 7-day average of 89.7 new COVID-19 cases daily, up from 72.3, the average on July 17.

Mayor Hancock said that the city will more aggressively enforce mask mandates, distancing and capacity requirements.

Rachel Herlihy of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment told reporters today that they’re seeing hospitalizations, positivity rates, and case counts plateau. She attributes increased social distancing and public health orders like the statewide mask requirement.

Herlihy said the trend was reassuring, but also expressed the need for cautious optimism.

Colorado has counted more than 46 thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 1,800 deaths attributed to the disease. Hospitalizations and case rates fell from their peak in April to a low sometime around late June or early July, when they started to go back up. As of Thursday afternoon, the state was reporting 239 hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

A judge has upheld the state’s new air quality rules related to oil and gas drilling, by dismissing a lawsuit brought by Weld County.

Weld County had argued that the new rules would harm its tax base because of the impacts on the oil and gas industry. Weld County has nearly half of the state’s roughly 52,000 active oil and gas wells.

The Denver Post reports that Denver District Judge Michael Martinez issued a decision Wednesday granting a motion by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Air Quality Control Commission to dismiss the case.

In his ruling, the judge said that Weld County had not shown that complying with the rules harms the county.

The rules, which went into effect in February, include more frequent inspections of well sites and equipment, including sites within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings and public places like parks and playgrounds.

Proponents for a Paid Family and Medical Leave statewide ballot initiative said today they handed in more than 205,000 signatures to qualify for the November 2020 Ballot.

If passed, this initiative will give more than 2.6 million Coloradans access to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for themselves, a new child, or a seriously ill loved one.

Colorado Families First, the group behind the measure, said that the time is right for Ballot Initiative #283 as the coronavirus pandemic has shown people need time to recover from illness without worrying about financial ruin.

State lawmakers failed to pass legislation in the recent session that would have given family leave benefits to workers in Colorado.

 

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On Thursday Governor Jared Polis said he was confident that it is reasonably safe to reopen schools in the coming weeks.

“I think all the work that Coloradans have put in to keep our viral transmission rate low is why it’s safer to open schools in Colorado,” he said.

The governor’s comments came as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released guidelines for school districts.

The guidance provides specific steps a school should take in response to cases and outbreaks and outlines when classrooms, cohorts, and schools should close.

The health department says that a classroom or cohort should be closed for 14 days when there is a single student, teacher or other staff member with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, and an entire school should close for 14 days when there are five or more classroom outbreaks or five percent of unrelated people have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

CDPHE identifies an outbreak as when two or more unrelated people in a single classroom or cohort have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Colorado will declare racism to be a public health crisis. The Denver Post reports that this comes after a push by staffers inside the state’s health department to respond to ongoing social-justice protests and the inequities highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Staffers have expressed frustration that CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan has not made such a public declaration sooner.

The American Public Health Association has already declared racism to be a public health crisis. Now the state health department will make it a formal policy within the health department.

Hunsaker Ryan says she has two goals: to increase diversity in the department’s workforce, which is almost 78% white, and make it easier for local community organizations that provide services to people of color to partner with the agency. She also plans to hire an equity and inclusion officer for the department, potentially by the end of August.

The Longmont Community Foundation is looking for minority small business owners to apply for a grant called Strongmont  2. The funds are designated for business owners of color who have experienced hardship during the pandemic.

Business owners who are Asian, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern, Native American, or Pacific Islander are encouraged to apply.

Alejandro Rodriguez and Edward Perea have applied for the grant. They opened Summit Tacos in 2017 as a food truck and that success allowed them to open a restaurant last year.

Rodriguez told the Times Call that because of the coronavirus pandemic their business has faced many challenges and if they are awarded the Strongmont 2 grant, he will use the money towards utilities, payroll and everyday operation costs.

The Strongmont 2 grant application is available on the foundation’s website and is offered in both English and Spanish. Applicants may ask for up to $10,000. The deadline to submit the application is next Monday, August 3rd.

The money was raised through private donors and resident contributions.

People can donate to Strongmont 2 on the Longmont Community Foundation’s website.