Headlines November 30, 2020
Special Session of Legislature Begins to Address Pandemic Relief
The Colorado legislature starts meeting in a special session today to consider coronavirus relief bills.
Democrats unveiled their plans on Sunday which include direct payments to small businesses, tax forgiveness, grants for childcare centers and money to expand broadband access.
The Colorado Sun reports that the aid totals about $200 million and is aimed at providing a bridge until a much larger congressional stimulus measure is approved.
The largest proposal in terms of dollars centers on direct payments to small businesses hit hard by capacity limits. A bill would provide $37 million in relief to restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses that have been unable to reopen or hurt severely by mandates.
Counties that are under Colorado’s red- or purple-level coronavirus restrictions, would get the relief money first and those that are in compliance with state public health orders would also be prioritized. Weld County’s commissioners, for instance, have vowed not to enforce state mandates.
Another bill would allow restaurants and bars to keep up to $2,000 per month in state sales taxes they are required to collect.
Lawmakers will also consider emergency housing assistance to renters and homeowners with more than 45 million dollars going to landlords whose tenants can’t pay rent and to renters with income below a certain level.
$500,000 will go toward providing legal representation for people facing eviction.
Lawmakers concede that the money isn’t a silver bullet, and business leaders say it’s unlikely to revive businesses that are at the edge of failing.
Senator Faith Winter, a Democrat from Westminster said that the relief money is not going to be enough to help everyone, but it’s the money they have.
Polis and First Gentleman Test Positive
On Saturday night, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced on Twitter that he and first gentleman Marlon Reis have tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement, the governor said that they are both asymptomatic, feeling well, and will continue to isolate in their home.
Polis said he will work remotely and “continue to fulfill his duties and responsibilities.”
The Denver Post reports that Polis began quarantining Wednesday after learning he was exposed to a person who tested positive.
The coronavirus has been surging in Colorado and the state estimated last week that one in 41 people here are contagious. The governor urged every Coloradan to limit public interactions, wear masks, wash hands regularly and stay 6 feet from others.
On Saturday Polis also extended an executive order that provides a one-time state payment to workers who have collected unemployment benefits because of the pandemic.
Coronavirus Data Update
On Sunday the state Department of Public Health and Environment reported that there were, 1,749 patients hospitalized in Colorado, and the seven-day, moving average positivity rate of virus infections increased to just over 11 percent [11.02%].
Positivity is an important indicator of the status of COVID-19 in the state. To contain the virus the World Health Organization recommends that the positivity rate be at or below 5%.
Boulder County on Sunday reported 87 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths. The University of Colorado Boulder reported on Friday 23 positive tests out of 377 diagnostic tests.
On Saturday the county reported 159 new coronavirus cases and four new deaths — a single-day death toll not seen since May.
Denver Mayor Returns to Denver
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was back in Denver on Saturday after spending four days on a family visit to Mississippi for Thanksgiving that put him in the national spotlight.
The Mayor has been widely criticized for his decision to travel contradicting his public warning that people should stay close to home for the holiday.
On Saturday, Hancock told 9News that his decision to travel was not wise and he should not have made the trip.
The mayor flew from DIA to Houston on Wednesday and then traveled to Mississippi to visit his daughter. His wife was already there.
About 30 minutes before the flight, Hancock sent out a message on Twitter saying, “avoid travel, if you can” in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The mayor also wrote an email to city staff on Nov. 18, saying that, even though we all long to be with our families in person, with the rise in coronavirus cases, he urged them to refrain from travel this Thanksgiving holiday. He added that for his family that meant canceling the traditional gathering of their extended family.
On Saturday Hancock admitted that making the trip was hypocritical and a mistake that he deeply regrets and apologizes for.
The mayor said he will quarantine for 14 days and work remotely during that time.