Headlines December 11, 2020
Colorado Hits COVID-19 “High Plateau
A Colorado health official says the state may have dodged a Thanksgiving COVID-19 spike. While the virus remains widespread, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said Thursday new infections and hospitalizations are falling, but the state remains at a “high plateau.” She said the plateau coincides with several of Colorado’s most populous counties going to higher levels of COVID restrictions amid an unprecedented spike in cases, with restaurants and the service industry having the highest number of new claimants. Herlihy added that Colorado is so far not seeing an increased trend associated with Thanksgiving so either it’s too soon, or all the things Colorado has done made a difference in containing the virus.
Colorado Unemployment Claims Climb
A total of 19,000 Colorado residents filed for traditional unemployment benefits last week. That was an increase of almost 1,900 unemployed from the week before. According to the Denver Post, state officials said the increase in new people claiming unemployment rose for the seventh week in a row, the highest total since the first full week in May.
ACLU Settles Excessive Force Case with Aurora
The ACLU of Colorado announced Thursday it had reached a $285,000 settlement on behalf of Jamie Alberto Torres Soto. The excessive-force lawsuit was filed against the Aurora Police Department in November 2016. Soto was handcuffed and thrown to the ground when officers responded to a noise complaint. Soto, a Latino man, was ordered out of his home and beaten by Aurora Police officers.
In addition to the attack, the lawsuit claimed a widespread pattern of racially biased policing in Aurora with little accountability. The ACLU said, “while the size of Mr. Torres’ settlement suggests the significance of the wrongdoing in this case, it does not begin to serve justice.” The statement added that Torres suffers physically and emotionally from the incident, and noted that racialized police violence in Aurora ranks 8th out of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. for police killings per capita.
Legislation to Expand Rocky Mountain National Park Headed to U.S. Senate
Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse introduced a bill Thursday to expand Rocky Mountain National Park. The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. In a presentation on the House floor in Washington, Neguse said the legislation would allow former NASA astronaut and Longmont native Vance Brand to donate property, roughly 40 acres, to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Colorado Natives Join Next Mission to the Moon
Two Colorado natives will be part of NASA’s 2024 scheduled mission to the moon. Matthew Dominick, a Wheat Ridge native, and Jessica Watkins, from Lafayette, are members of the 18-member astronaut group named to the Artemis Team on NASA’s next moon mission. The program is a collaboration between NASA, international partners and commercial spaceflight companies.
Several Colorado Cities are Already Preparing for What Could be a Dangerously Dry 2021
Winter snow levels in the Rockies and melt from these mountain snows are the indicators of upcoming dry conditions for Colorado. And it is spring when decisions are usually made of a possible upcoming drought and thoughts of watering restrictions.
The Colorado Sun reports that long-term forecasts for temperatures show January through October of next year being extremely warm.
Last summer, the state formally initiated the agricultural portion of its emergency drought plan, calling on government agencies to begin coordinating aid efforts that serve farmers and livestock producers.
Already this year, the state of Colorado has activated a similar process that will begin for cities in 2021.
Megan Holcomb of the Colorado Water Conservation Board said the state’s decision to sound the alarm on municipal water supply came in response to requests from several cities, as they prepare for what they believe is a 2021 severe drought.
Holcomb said that even with an average snowpack this winter we will still be in drought in the spring.
Soil moisture is a huge part of this story. A large portion of this year’s snowmelt will be absorbed by the dry landscape, leaving less for reservoirs and cities to collect.