Headlines September 23, 2020
COVID-19 Cases Rise Across the State
There’s been a recent surge in coronavirus cases in Colorado and it isn’t limited to college students.
That was the message yesterday from the state’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Rachel Herlihy. She pointed to an increase of 54 percent in cases last week compared to the previous week.
The Colorado Sun reports the jump was especially pronounced among 18 to 25-year-olds, which Herlilhy said is to be expected given the worsening outbreak of COVID-19 at the University of Colorado Boulder and on other campuses.
But she added it’s very concerning that even among other age groups they’re again seeing rapid acceleration.
Among 18 to 25-year-olds, cases rose by 74% last week and for the rest of the population, the increase was 45%.
Yesterday Governor Jared Polis said that it doesn’t appear the outbreak at CU Boulder has spread beyond the campus into the community. But he and other health officials are worried that could happen.
So far, hospitalizations have not risen alongside the increase in cases, but they are often a lagging indicator of coronavirus’ spread, meaning the numbers could begin to rise in the next week or so.
State Employees Face More Furloughs
On Tuesday the Governor announced that he will order most of Colorado’s 30,000 state employees to take an unpaid furlough to help address the state’s budget crunch.
Polis’s expected order will apply to executive branch employees making more than $50,000 a year, and will be tiered to lessen the impact on lower-wage workers and government services.
The Governor said that, even though Colorado is not seeing the worst case scenario that people have worried about, the state is looking at a very tough budget this year and next year, and needs to save money.
The governor said necessary operations related to wildfire, the coronavirus response, and law enforcement would be exempt.
Boulder County Coronavirus Cases Rise
Boulder County reported 210 new positive or probable coronavirus cases Tuesday, and CU Boulder reported 94 new cases.
The Daily Camera reports that both entities are working to ramp up testing in order to contain the spread of the disease.
CU Boulder said that the campus would begin offering weekly coronavirus monitoring to approximately 900 employees — mainly front-line workers who are in close contact with students, employees or visitors.
Students living in residence halls are required to take weekly monitoring tests.
Boulder County Public Health began breaking down cases by people affiliated with CU. The latest update showed that since Aug. 24 almost 80 percent of all cases in the county are connected with the university. That data will be updated on Mondays and Wednesdays.
BVSD K-2nd Grade Students to Return to School
Despite the surge in cases, the Boulder Valley School District is moving forward with plans to bring Kindergartners through 2nd grade students back to school campuses next week,
The Daily Camera reports that public health officials told the school board yesterday that they’re comfortable with the district’s plans, because the CU Boulder outbreak hasn’t spread outside the university community so far.
They added that area private schools with in-person classes have seen few cases with those mainly among staff members. Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach said that there has not been a spike in cases for school-age children.
A working group of school district administrators, teachers and parents is also recommending the district bring students in grades 3 to 5 back for in-person classes four days a week, while middle and high school students attend in person one day a week. At the secondary level, it’s expected class sizes will be limited to about eight students per classroom.
Denver Public Schools Continues Plans for Phased Re-Opening
Denver Public Schools are continuing their plans to phase in reopening next week. The Denver Post reports that Superintendent Susana Cordova said that she has been closely watching three indicators, one of which includes the number of cases, and another is the two week trend – both are currently in the red zone. All three were in the green zone about three weeks ago.
However, Cordova said experts at Denver Health and the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment told DPS the upticks in those metrics are not cause for concern because they are limited to college communities.
Boulder Council Gets Update on Citizen Oversight Panel
Boulder citizens will soon be asked to apply for a position on the new civilian oversight panel for the Boulder Police Department. Boulder City Council was updated on the issue last night, after hiring the city’s first independent police monitor earlier this summer.
The goal of the monitor and oversight panel is to transform the relationship between police and the public after a 2019 incident involving a police officer shocked citizens and generated accusations of racism.
Todd Conklin served on the implementation team for the new oversight panel. He explained how members of the Boulder community would report a complaint against an officer.
“The complaint can, number one be filed with the monitor themself via an email, a phone call. They can file it online, in a drop box. They can walk into the monitor’s office and file it. The second way to file it is that they can go to the Boulder Police Department themselves,” he said.
The public will be able to comment on the ordinance implementing the procedures at a meeting on November 5th.