Headlines October 7, 2020

Headlines October 7, 2020

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State Officials Concerned About Rise in COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Colorado officials expressed concern on Tuesday about the alarming increase in the number of people hospitalized in the state with the coronavirus.

Governor Jared Polis cautioned that care for patients could be affected if the number of hospitalizations continues to rise.

As of Tuesday, close to 80 percent of the intensive care beds in the state were in use.

At a news conference, Polis said Colorado is at a critical juncture and cannot continue this trend. He said that the state must do better which means doubling down on wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, and keeping activities outside where possible.

As Thanksgiving and the holidays approach, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s epidemiologist, said that the position the state is going to be in during the season depends heavily on the level of disease transmission in the next couple of weeks.

The Denver Post reports that the number of new cases of COVID-19 dropped slightly last week, partly due to a decrease in infections among people ages 18 to 25. But excluding that age group, there is still a high level of transmission as new cases were flat compared to the prior week.

Boulder County Sees Encouraging COVID-19 Trends

In Boulder County there are some “positive data trends” on the pandemic, according to the Boulder County Public Health Department. Director Jeff Zayach told Boulder City Council last night that the huge spike among college students when they returned to the CU campus in late August is on the decline.

“We are seeing individual behavior change and that is indicated in some of the data we are tracking on a more frequent basis like looking at activity on the Hill, the number of referrals that are going into disciplinary at the University. Some of those kinds of things. So I just want to say how important it is that we continue this trend,” he said.

CU Boulder was the site of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in the state, but as of yesterday reported zero new positive tests, while Boulder County had 17 cases.

A CU spokesman said there has been a change in behavior among college students, noting that there were no referrals from police of health code violations last weekend.

CU leaders will meet with county health officials this afternoon to discuss whether students can return to in-person classes after a two-week ban that prohibited gatherings of 18-to-22-year olds and imposed strict stay-at-home orders on more than 35 properties largely affiliated with fraternities and sororities.

Gross Reservoir Expansion Comment Period Open

Boulder County officials are reviewing the proposed expansion of Gross Reservoir by Denver Water. Community members can now share their comments and views about the project.

The public comment period runs until the County Commissioners make a decision. An earlier postcard sent to property owners near the reservoir incorrectly said that the comment period was open only until October 14th.

The Daily Camera reports that the expansion proposal by the state’s largest water provider would raise the dam’s height by more than 130 feet increasing its capacity. It would be the largest construction project ever in Boulder County, and has attracted criticism from environmentalists and those who live nearby.

No public meetings or hearings about the expansion proposal have been scheduled yet.

Former Boulder Police Officer to Leave Sheriff’s Office

The former Boulder police officer, who resigned after pointing a gun at a Black student from Naropa, has agreed to leave his temporary civilian position with the County Sheriff’s Office after complaints from the Boulder NAACP chapter.

The Daily Camera reports that John Smyly was found in violation of city police department policies and resigned in May 2019 after an internal investigation into his encounter with the student.

After Smyly was hired by the sheriff’s office, the NAACP’s Boulder County chapter shared its concerns with Sheriff Joe Pelle.

Pelle responded saying that staff had spoken to Smyly, and that Smyly was not enjoying the spotlight or controversy and understood it was necessary for him to leave. Smyly agreed to immediately seek other employment outside of the county government.

NAACP leaders wrote that they’re glad Smyly will be leaving the position, as well as saying they appreciated the acknowledgment that Pelle failed to consider the impact the hiring decision might have had on people of color.

Denver Continues Sweeps of Encampments

The City of Denver cleared out homeless encampments in the Capitol Hill neighborhood yesterday morning.

The Denver Post reports the sweep happened along East 14th Avenue and Logan Street.

Last week officials posted a notice of intent to clear several Capitol Hill locations because of deteriorating conditions and a significant number of interferences with the public’s use of the right-of-way, according to a city statement.

The sweep occurred despite the filing of a federal lawsuit on Monday against Denver in an attempt to stop the city from clearing homeless camps.

The suit claims the operations violate constitutional rights of homeless people and that sweeps also raise the risk of spreading the coronavirus.