Headlines November 16, 2020
Governor Urges People to Work from Home as Virus Infections Spike
Yesterday, hospitals in Colorado reported a spike in admissions due to the coronavirus. 220 new patients were hospitalized over the last 24 hours, leading to a record of nearly 1,300 people currently in hospital across the state.
Twenty-one people in Colorado died yesterday from the infection.
On Sunday Governor Jared Polis and local leaders, including the mayors of Denver and Aurora, urged Coloradans to work from home as much as possible in the coming weeks to stop the spread of the virus.
The Denver Post reports that Polis and other leaders are reluctant to issue new stay-at-home orders even as the virus surges. They are concerned about the economic impacts of a second shutdown which would occur this time without supplemental unemployment benefits available from the federal government.
When Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order in March, he did so with the knowledge that federal coronavirus relief – including weekly unemployment benefits and small business loans – would support many residents who would be facing joblessness, hunger, housing instability, and mental health crises.
But things are even worse today than when most retail businesses were shut down for more than a month earlier this year. This time there’s no federal financial safety net, since Congress has failed to agree on a new stimulus package.
Polis told the Denver Post that he could not have taken the steps he did to contain the virus in March and April without knowing that people would be receiving money from the federal government, rental assistance and loans to small businesses.
He added that it’s unfair to ask people to not to be able to pay rent and put food on the table.
In the meantime, the state is seeing more than 4,000 new cases on average every day, and on Sunday reported a 13% positivity rate among those who were tested — much higher than the recommended 5% ceiling.
On Saturday, Polis’s office ordered hospitals to create plans to increase their capacity by opening up unused space and augmenting their staffing.
The Daily Camera reports that he also ordered the State Emergency Operations Center to return to Level 1, which brings together all state agencies, federal partners and the voluntary organizations that serve the state’s communities in crisis.
Boulder Infections Hit Record High
In Boulder County, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases reached a record of 321 reported on Saturday and CU Boulder showing 22 new positives tests on Friday.
Second Effort to Recall Polis Fails
A second effort to recall Governor Polis has failed. Organizers of the recall didn’t turn in any signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office on Friday when they were due in order to force an election to oust the Democrat.
The Colorado Sun reports that the group–known as Recall Polis 2020–raised little money and had no backing from political leaders in the state. No group in Colorado has ever amassed the number of signatures needed to recall the governor.
The attempt to remove Polis was driven by allegations that he overstepped his authority during the coronavirus crisis by imposing restrictions on people’s movement to try to slow the spread of the disease.
A spokeswoman for Polis declined to comment on Friday.
Cal-Wood Fire Fully Contained
The Cal-Wood Fire that was the largest ever in Boulder County’s history was fully contained as of Saturday; but the blaze is not completely out yet.
There were high winds on Saturday that tested the fire, but there were no signs of heat or smoke according to a post on the fire’s incident management page.
Boulder County Sheriff’s Division Chief Mike Wagner told the Daily Camera that containment means they are confident that the control lines will hold and that the fire will not escape or make a run.
The Cal-Wood fire started burning on October 17 close to Jamestown and as of Friday it had burned 10,106 acres or about 16 square miles. Twenty homes across the county were destroyed and many had to be evacuated.
The Boulder Office of Emergency Management said on Twitter that the successful containment was great news.
Firefighters will continue to check the fire daily.
ACLU and Department of Corrections Settle COVID-19 Lawsuit
The ACLU and the Colorado Department of Corrections announced Friday that they had reached an agreement on actions the state needs to take to try to prevent medically vulnerable inmates from contracting COVID-19.
Colorado Public Radio reports that the consent decree was reached after the ACLU sued the DOC earlier this year on behalf of several prisoners who are at risk of getting severely sick or dying from COVID-19.
The agreement requires the state to furnish every prisoner with two free masks and two bars of soap a week. It also requires the Department of Corrections to identify vulnerable inmates and provide them with safe housing.
And the state must be transparent about testing and positive cases across the system.
There are currently more than 700 prisoners with COVID-19 in state prisons, according to the Department of Corrections’ dashboard.
In a release, the ACLU’s legal director said that the consent decree, while important, won’t be enough to keep prisoners safe from the virus unless prison populations are reduced.