Headlines December 21, 2020

Headlines December 21, 2020

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Community Remembers Those Experiencing Homelessness Who Died

Thirty-two area homeless people who died in 2020, were honored by Boulder’s Bridge House on Sunday. The Daily Camera reports the memorial held at the Boulder Band Shell was socially distanced and masked.

The event also remembered eighteen others who were housed when they died, but were homeless in the past.

Scott Medina, director of community relations at Bridge House, read each person’s name before asking for a moment of silence.

He also said it’s important to remember those who were previously homeless because it recognizes the life-shortening toll it can take. “It can stay with you,” he said. Several faith community leaders spoke, and singer Heatherlyn performed.

Boulder County Jail Experiencing Staffing Reduction Due to Virus

The Boulder County Jail has been dealing with a significant reduction in staff caused by COVID-19 quarantine protocols. The Daily Camera reports that three inmates, an employee and two contract workers had tested positive for the virus.

Sheriff Division Chief Jeff Goetz said that with 24 workers also under quarantine, the jail has been running at roughly 60% of its usual staff.

Goetz said the jail has been in communication with the District Attorney and the courts in the hopes of finding opportunities to reduce the inmate population during the outbreak.

Boulder County Public Health spokesperson Chana Goussetis said that the agency and the jail have been working in partnership to manage the outbreak. However, as of the middle of last week, the jail is not listed on the state’s website as experiencing an outbreak.

Boulder County COVID-19 Update

Boulder County on Sunday reported 77 new coronavirus cases, but no new deaths.

The University of Colorado Boulder, which did not update its online coronavirus dashboard Sunday, recorded two new positive tests on Saturday.

State Epidemiologist Says There Are Improvements

The state’s top epidemiologist said Friday that there are starting to be some clear improvements, despite infection rates being high.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy said there has been a sustained, two-week downward trend in cases and hospitalizations are decreasing as well.

During a news conference with Governor Polis, Herlihy said Coloradans’ actions and Colorado’s policies have made a difference.

Buck Says He Won’t Get Vaccine

U.S. Representative Ken Buck, a Republican from Weld County, said on Friday that he won’t be getting the coronavirus vaccine.

During an appearance on Fox Business, Buck said that it’s his choice and he has the freedom to decide if he’s going to take the vaccine or not.  Buck said he’s more concerned about the safety of the vaccine than “the side effects of the disease.”

The Colorado Sun reports that Buck said in a later tweet that his point was at-risk individuals should be prioritized before members of Congress. He also said that he encourages frontline workers, health care professionals and at-risk people to get the vaccine.

Health care experts say the coronavirus vaccine is safe, though some people may experience side effects consistent with a mild cold after receiving it.

Denver’s Independent Monitor Announces Resignation.

The independent monitor of the Denver Police Department has announced he is leaving the city for an opportunity in Los Angeles.  The news comes about two weeks after Nick Mitchell released a scathing report about the department’s mishandling of protests over the summer about racial injustice.

Denverite reports that Mitchell was appointed to head the Office of Independent Monitor in 2012.  The watchdog helps to guide internal investigations and various reforms in the police and sheriff’s departments.

Mitchell has overseen thousands of investigations into complaints of misconduct, He also helped reform the Denver Sheriff Department after the death of Michael Marshall.  He also helped to lead an overhaul of the police department’s use-of-force policy.

State Air Regulators Adopt New Plan for Front Range Ozone Levels

On Friday, Colorado’s air quality regulators adopted a new plan to combat ozone pollution along the Front Range.

The plan will tighten emissions from oil wells, boilers and automobiles.

The Colorado Sun reports the plan is necessary because the Environmental Protection Agency is set to change the region’s ozone status from “serious” to “severe” next year.

Without an approved plan more than $400 million dollars in federal transportation funds for the state could be in jeopardy.

Ozone is a gas that has been linked to respiratory and heart problems, and the EPA has been lowering the acceptable health level for it as more research emerges on health effects.

Ten Denver metro area and northern Front Range counties have been out of compliance with a  federal benchmark since 2012.

One part of the plan targets leaks from oil and gas production equipment. For example, if an oil or gas well within 1,000 feet of neighborhoods and occupied areas is leaking, its operators have to seal the leak within five business days.  The industry is a major source of air pollution.

The Colorado Sun reports Advocacy groups from around the state largely praised the updated plan; but Jacob Smith, executive director of Colorado Communities for Climate Action, noted that the commission could have been more aggressive in reducing ozone emissions.