Headlines December 23, 2020

Headlines December 23, 2020

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Boulder County Begins Administering Vaccine

The Boulder County Public Health Department began administering the Moderna coronavirus vaccine Tuesday.

Mike Stratton, communications specialist for the department, told the Daily Camera that about 175 outpatient health care workers, from 12 facilities across the county were given the vaccine – including those who work in hospice care facilities, nurses from the Boulder County Jail and workers at the Hopelight Medical Clinic in Longmont.

Stratton said the plan is to reach all the outpatient health care workers in the county quickly.  The county doesn’t have a specific goal or deadline for reaching health care workers, but the next step will be identifying all such workers in the county.

Boulder county recorded four new deaths from the virus and 95 new cases.  The four people who died were residents of long-term care facilities. The deaths bring the county’s total to 171.

Denver to Apply for Less Serious Restrictions

The City of Denver has started the process to apply to the state so that businesses can operate under less serious COVID-19 restrictions.

Denver public health executive director Bob McDonald said Tuesday that the city meets certain metrics in order for a county to be eligible for the 5 Star State Certification Program, which includes having two weeks of sustained case rates dropping, a positivity rate below 10 percent or improving, and under 90 percent of ICU beds in use or declining in use.

Denverite reports that the city got a “report card” from the state’s health department showing it had met those requirements.

Right now, Denver is under Level Red in the state’s dial, which is the second-worst level.

If Denver were to participate in the 5 Star program, businesses in the city and county would be allowed to apply to operate under Level Orange. This would mean, for example, that restaurants in Denver could allow indoor dining again.

McDonald said the local businesses could start applying for the program as early as next month.

However, Councilmember Robin Kniech said the city has been approaching the program backward.  She said she has serious concerns about allowing restaurants to reopen under the program and whether its impact could jeopardize the Denver Public School’s plan to allow in-person learning next year

Kniech said there are many unanswered questions, and the responsible thing would be to publicly discuss the trade-off between cases rates and public health and the economic goals.

Meanwhile, as of Monday morning, 134 restaurants in Summit County were approved to reopen their indoor dining areas under the new guidelines.  The Denver Post reports that Summit is the only county where the application for the 5-Star program has been approved.

Colorado U.S. Attorney Joins Lawsuit Against Walmart

Colorado’s top federal prosecutor joined the Justice Department in filing a lawsuit against Walmart yesterday.  The suit accuses the company of fueling America’s opioid crisis by wrongfully dispensing pain killers.

The Denver Post reports that Jason Dunn, the U.S. Attorney for Colorado was one of three federal prosecutors to join the suit.

He said the complaint is the culmination of a painstaking investigation by his office and their colleagues at the  Department of Justice that uncovered years of unlawful conduct that did untold damage to communities around the country, including here in Colorado.

Prosecutors allege Walmart violated the Controlled Substances Act hundreds of thousands of times, which could result in billions of dollars in penalties.

In a statement, Walmart fired back, accusing prosecutors of shoddy work.

Employee in Denver Voting Company Sues Trump Campaign

A top employee of Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit yesterday against the Trump campaign, and others including the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and the conservative media outlet Newsmax.

The Colorado Sun reports that Eric Coomer, who lives in Colorado, claims he has been the target of a false conspiracy that has harmed his reputation and left him facing threats.

The lawsuit seeks an order barring the defendants from continuing to spread erroneous information in addition to damages for the harm they have caused.

Coomer has been baselessly accused of corruption that led to Trump’s 2020 reelection loss. Supporters of the president have falsely claimed that Dominion Voting Systems machines manipulated votes for Democrat Joe Biden.

Coomer said he’s worked in elections for 15 years and never experienced anything like what he has surrounding the 2020 election. Some of the false allegations leveled against him have been shared on social media by Trump.

Coomer said in the lawsuit that he’s been forced to flee his home and cut ties with family and friends to protect his safety.

Safer Main Streets Grants Awarded Include Boulder Projects

Yesterday various transportation projects in the Denver and Boulder area were awarded grants under the Safer Main Streets Program.  The Daily Camera reports that on the list of grants are projects in Boulder, Boulder County, Erie, Longmont, Nederland, Superior and Broomfield.

Longmont will be getting more than a million dollars to help pay for improvements at intersections, rights of way, and other upgrades.  The city of Boulder looks to receive almost $5 million.

Four-Day Work Week Pilot Program to Begin for Boulder County

Boulder County government will begin a pilot program early next year of a four-day workweek for several offices and departments.

The Daily Camera reports that for the first four months of 2021, about a third of the county’s offices and departments will operate on a Monday-to-Thursday, extended hours schedule, with no public services offered on Fridays.

Some offices such as law enforcement, the district courts, emergency services, snow removal, will continue as usual and will not be impacted by any of the pilot program’s scheduling changes.