Headlines December 2, 2020

Headlines December 2, 2020

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Polis Addresses Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution During News Conference With Dr. Fauci 

Yesterday Colorado Governor Jared Polis said he believes incarcerated people should not receive access to upcoming vaccines ahead of free people, even though those in prisons have been subject to many of Colorado’s most severe coronavirus outbreaks.

Polis’ position seems to go against the vaccine distribution plan Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment published weeks ago.

The Denver Post reports that the health department framework puts incarcerated people at the top of Phase 2 of three phases. Phase 1 would include those considered to be critical workforce and highest-risk individuals.  The health department plan would put prisoners ahead of the general public and deemed high risk but not the highest risk–such as adults 65 and older or adults with diabetes and other COVID-19 co-morbidities.

The governor’s remarks have drawn strong condemnation from criminal justice reform advocates including Rachel Barkow of New York University who said on Twitter that Polis had campaigned on a progressive vision, but his rhetoric is as regressive as it can be.

On Tuesday, the state Department of Corrections reported the total COVID-19 death toll among Colorado prisoners now stands at 11. Four of those 11 have been reported in the last week alone.

Polis made his remarks at a news conference where he was joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.

Fauci repeated the message for people to wear masks, avoid indoor gatherings with those outside of their households, and keep washing their hands. He also addressed the role of public officials.  Fauci said there’s been mixed messaging, particularly from people in authority, and it’s really something that countermands the kind of messaging that we like to get to people so they understand what the appropriate thing to do.

Lawmakers Discuss Public Assistance During Second Day of Colorado Legislature Special Session 

Yesterday the Colorado legislature convened for its second day of a special session to address the COVID-19 pandemic and offer some relief to businesses and families.

Of the roughly 35 bills that were introduced Monday, only about a dozen made it to yesterday’s session including eight priority bills for Democrats.

Denver 7 reports those bills have bipartisan support and include small business relief, housing and rental assistance, broadband access, utility assistance, public health assistance, sales tax relief, childcare support and food pantry assistance.

A measure that would provide $57 million in aid for small businesses could be on Governor Polis’ desk today.  The money would be available to businesses most impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, including restaurants, bars, caterers, movie theaters, fitness clubs and cultural, arts and entertainment venues.

Boulder City Council Hears Pandemic Update from Public Health Director

In Boulder County, Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach told Boulder city council last night the vast majority of recent positive cases have been in Longmont. As part of a regular update to city council, Zayach said the county has seen a downward trend in cases, but the flattening is likely to rise again due to the millions of people e who traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday. He noted that hospitalizations are not headed in the right direction and will continue to climb depending on personal behavior.

Zayach said: We see hospitalizations happening at the 18 to 22-year-old age group even though we are not seeing many hospitalized ICU folks at that age group.  We are starting to see them at 25 to 34. So this does impact more than just our oldest age groups. We are seeing hospitalizations starting in that 18-22-year-old group.   Our highest hospitalizations unfortunately now are creeping up into the most sensitive and vulnerable age groups, which is 75 plus.  And again you can see a fairly high number in the 55 to 64 year age group as well so it is impacting across that age range.

Boulder County reported 167 new coronavirus cases Tuesday and two new deaths related to the virus. Both of the people who died were residents of a long-term care facility.

Denver’s Native American Population Sees Spike in COVID Cases
In Denver there’s been a recent spike of COVID-19 cases among Native American and Native Alaskan residents.
Denverite reports that as of late last month data shows they make up about 7 and a half percent of all cases but represent less than half a percent of Denver residents. The data also shows between Oct. 18 and Nov. 1, cases among Native American and Native Alaskans residents rose by 7.2 percentage points.The jump was sharp considering cases have been hovering around 1 percent among this group during most of the pandemic.

The spike coincided with an increase of cases across the city and across most racial demographics, including white residents in Denver.

Colorado AG Report Finds More Victims of Catholic Priest Abuse
The Colorado Attorney General’s Office announced yesterday it has found that there were more victims of child sex abuse in the state’s Catholic dioceses than an earlier report concluded.

The Colorado Sun reports that AG’s investigators identified an additional 46 victims dating back to 1950. A first investigation found more than 200.

The new revelations were released in a supplemental report that marks the end of a 22-month investigation into the church covering the past seven decades.