Headlines November 11, 2020

Headlines November 11, 2020

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Local Health Officials Urge State to Take More Aggressive Steps to Control the Virus 

Local public health officials are urging the state to take more aggressive steps to control outbreaks of the coronavirus including imposing stay-at-home orders.

The Denver Post reports that county health officers, including Jeff Zayak of Boulder Public health, and Bill Burman of Denver’s agency, say that the county-by-county approach worked earlier in the summer; but now, the transmission of COVID-19 is so widespread that it’s not possible to use those more local measures and be successful in controlling the disease.

However, state officials are reluctant to issue another statewide lockdown, preferring local governments to take the lead.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement that local agencies can enact guidance that is stricter than the state’s and they do not need approval to do that.  The department said that it would support local orders to stay at home, if made.

Some counties have surpassed the threshold for level red that would impose a lockdown, but they have not yet been moved to that most severe level of restrictions.

The county health officers wrote that, while they appreciate that the state is being cautious, they fear the failure to impose stricter orders now will do more harm than good.

Colorado reported nearly 3,400 new cases of coronavirus yesterday, and hospitalizations continued to reach record levels. More than 1,100 people with the virus are in hospitals, and 84% of the state’s intensive-care unit beds are in use.

Boulder County Officials Address Council About COVID-19 

The Boulder County Health Department updated the Boulder City Council on the status of COVID-19 in the community last night and it wasn’t good. Like the rest of the state and country, cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health Executive, said local hospitalizations are consistently increasing.

“Unfortunately the news I bring you today is worse than the news I brought you last time. We are clearly headed in the wrong direction in Boulder County. This is obviously not a Boulder County, not even just a state problem or a regional problem. We are seeing this happen nationally, and we are coming to a critical juncture here in Boulder County. We are now in record new territory,” Zayach said.

Zayach noted that the number of new cases in Boulder County is the highest in Longmont, followed by Boulder. He said there were about 60 hospitalizations when the virus was at its peak in the spring, but is now higher, with 89 people hospitalized in Boulder County on Tuesday. He acknowledged that COVID-19 fatigue is real, and said he hears about calls to the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

“I want people to know I get calls from our Chamber. They talk about businesses that are calling up and they are in tears because they can’t make it another day, or another week. They’re losing their businesses, they’re losing their livelihoods.  They can’t meet the needs of their families and the individual decisions that people make are going to absolutely drive what happens in these communities, and it’s going to have a significant impact.  We have to take it seriously.  We have to social distance. We have to not gather. I know this is difficult going into the fall. But it’s critical and it’s really critical right now,” said Zayach.

The number of people in Boulder County currently infected by COVID-19 is one in 100 residents.

Boulder Valley School District Moving to Remote Learning 

The Boulder Valley School District will switch to all remote learning starting Nov. 17 because of “skyrocketing” coronavirus case numbers.

The Daily Camera reports that Superintendent Rob Anderson announced the move at yesterday’s school board meeting.

The district is now operating on a hybrid learning model, with elementary students attending four days in person, middle school attending two days and high school attending one day.

However, as of next Tuesday students will be using remote learning through at least Jan. 5 which is the end of winter break. After Thanksgiving, the district will review case rates and consider bringing back students with intensive special needs.

Anderson said case increases have stretched the contact tracing capabilities of both the health department and the district team, overwhelming the district to the point they can’t keep up — and likely can’t implement quarantines quickly enough to control spread.

Boulder Valley School Board Votes to End SRO Program 

The Boulder Valley School Board approved a resolution directing the superintendent to end the resource officer program while creating new options to ensure safety and improve discipline practices.

The board voted 6-1 to approve the resolution, which is based on concerns that students of color are more likely to be ticketed, arrested, suspended or expelled. School board member Donna Miers cast the lone dissenting vote.

The Daily Camera reports that the target date to end the SRO program is January 2022.