Headlines September 16, 2020

Headlines September 16, 2020

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Concerns Over Spike in Coronavirus Cases in College Students

Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado’s top epidemiologist sounded the alarm yesterday over an increase in coronavirus cases among the state’s college-age population, which they fear could spill over into more vulnerable groups.

The Colorado Sun reports that Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said there have been “very substantial increases” in cases among people 18 to 22 years old. She said that increase paired with a steady decrease in social distancing observed by health officials is worrisome and the state could be entering into a growth phase of cases.

CU Students Must Quarantine for 14 Days Due to Coronavirus Concerns

An emergency order takes effect today “strongly recommending” that University of Colorado students quarantine for 14 days, due to Boulder’s significant spike in COVID-19 cases since classes began. The Boulder County Public Health Department issued the recommendation late Tuesday and said CU Boulder is fully cooperating with the directive. Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam briefed City Council on the issue last night.

“They defined quarantine as staying in your home with the exception of engaging in going to in person classes or labs at school, needs for food or medical help, helping your family, things like that,” she said.

Brautigam said the emergency quarantine order would also apply to certain properties police have identified as troublesome.

Public health officials announced several reasons for the spike: off-campus gatherings, particularly among sororities, fraternities and other students living in Boulder’s University Hill neighborhood; masks not being worn; and minimal social distancing.

Boulder Attorney Tom Carr told city council that if the emergency order doesn’t work they’ll make it mandatory. “This is modeled after a program adopted by Michigan State [University]. So the first step is to do it in the larger scale with voluntary compliance,” said Carr.

The quarantine period does not apply to CU Boulder faculty or staff. A walk-up testing facility for students is being put at the city’s Pleasant Street parking lot on University Hill. The city and CU will field questions from the media during a ZOOM meeting this morning at 10 a.m.

Boulder City Council Approve E-Scooters

Tuesday night the Boulder City Council approved a program allowing standing and seated e-scooters on city streets. But they will be limited to certain parts of town and for a limited time before an evaluation is made to determine if they are a plus or minus to the transportation mix.

Last May, the council imposed a temporary moratorium denying licenses to e-scooter companies. The city will now issue a request to manufacturers that have expressed interest in operating in Boulder.

Cherry Creek School District Requires Some Students and Teachers to Quarantine Due to Coronavirus Spread

In more news about COVID-19, the Cherry Creek School District is requiring some students and teachers to quarantine, after several seniors at Cherry Creek High School tested positive for coronavirus. The positive cases are directly linked to students attending off-campus parties over the past two weekends.

In addition, the district is moving to remote learning for about 1,600 students, an entire cohort of seniors. Remote learning is being implemented because there are not enough teachers available for in-person classes with the 14 quarantined teachers.

Technical Failures Impact Unemployment Benefits in Colorado

Yesterday the state’s efforts to distribute extra weekly unemployment benefits hit a snag because of technical failures and call center overloads.

The Denver Post reports that the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is gearing up to pay out $300 in extra weekly benefits to qualified residents. The first wave of payments is expected in the coming days.
On Tuesday high demand clogged the process being used to verify that people are eligible for the federally funded payments.

More than 700,000 Coloradans have been forced onto the unemployment rolls since mid-March.

Five Points Site off the Table for Denver Homeless Camp

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has taken a site out of consideration for the city’s first sanctioned camp for people experiencing homelessness. Late yesterday Hancock said on his Facebook page that they are taking the plaza – west of the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library – off the table. He said there are potentially better places with fewer legal and practical obstacles.

The Denverite reports the site near Blair-Caldwell had drawn criticism from individuals and groups including the Five Points Business District which said that the area was already shouldering the majority of homelessness and the affordable housing crisis in Denver.

This is the second location that has been withdrawn after being publicly proposed for sanctioned camping and then withdrawn following neighborhood opposition. The first proposed site was at the parking lot near the Coliseum.

Both of those locations are in the district of Councilmember Candi CdeBaca, and yesterday her chief of staff said the mayor had derailed a grassroots effort for the Blair-Caldwell site by announcing its possibility too soon and then reversing course.

Denver Police Officer Ethics Complaint Against City Councilmember Dismissed

The Denver Board of Ethics voted Tuesday to dismiss an ethics complaint filed against Councilmember CdeBaca by a Denver police officer.

The complaint was based on comments CdeBaca made in front of demonstrators during a protest at the removal of a homeless encampment in August. The officer claimed her comments were intended to “dehumanize and humiliate” police.

Colorado Politics reports that the city’s Board of Ethics said it did not have jurisdiction over the complaint.