Headlines December 30, 2020
Variant of Coronavirus Detected in Colorado
The Colorado state laboratory confirmed the presence of the new strain of the coronavirus in rural Elbert County, after a man in his 20s tested positive for what’s being called the B.1.1.7 variant.
It’s the first known case in the U.S. of the highly contagious new strain of COVID-19 that’s spreading through the United Kingdom. The patient, who has no history of traveling, will remain in isolation until he’s medically cleared, state officials said.
Colorado Politics reports there is a second suspected case of the new strain in the state according to Dwayne Smith, director of public health for Elbert County.
He added that both individuals were working in Simla, Colorado, but neither is an Elbert County resident.
The discovery indicates the variant likely has circulated in the state and nation for some time. Dr. Michelle Barron, of UCHealth, said that they just happened to be the ones that found it first, and more is out there, and just hasn’t been detected yet.
The new variant is believed to be as much as 70% more contagious than previous strains, but does not lead to more serve symptoms.
According to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ office, it’s also believed the COVID-19 vaccines- that the state began distributing this month-will protect against the new variant.
The governor, along with state health officials will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. today.
State to Move into Phase 1b of Vaccinations
Yesterday, the National Guard general, who is overseeing Colorado’s vaccine distribution system, said hospitals and health clinics have now received enough doses for all frontline health care workers in the state.
General Scott Sherman said that they have pretty much gotten thefrontline health care workers done with their first dose, so they’ll be going into the next phase – 1b.
The Colorado Sun reports that health care workers who have direct contact with coronavirus patients are in Phase 1a of the state’s allocation plan, along with staff and residents of long-term care facilities. Phase 1b, into which the state is now moving, includes all other health care workers — and likely first responders, such as paramedics and police officers.
Longmont Restricts On Street RV Parking
Longmont will restrict recreational vehicle parking starting this Friday. An ordinance approved by city council in November takes effect on January 1st. With a few exceptions, it prohibits RV’s from parking on city streets. According to the Times-Call, the previous ordinance allowed RV parking on streets as long as they were moved every two days.
However complaints about people living in vehicles and leaving trash nearby prompted the tougher new rule. It’s not clear where the city expects those living in their RV’s to go but city staff say they try to direct people to services for people experiencing homelessness.
New Housing Development in Superior
New single-family homes are coming to the center of Superior. The Daily Camera reports that the town approved a new residential development for the Superior Town Center near US 36 and McCaslin Boulevard. The 4-acre project will include 24 houses.
Two New COVID-19 Deaths Reported in Boulder
Boulder County Public Health reported 39 new coronavirus cases and two new deaths on Tuesday. The two people who died were residents of long-term care facilities and were in their 60s and 80s.
Chana Gousettis of the health department told the Daily Camera that in December the County has lost more residents to the virus — 56 — than in any other month since the start of the pandemic. And now a smaller proportion of deaths are occurring among residents of long-term care facilities compared to earlier in the pandemic.
Goussetis said hospitalizations in Boulder County are lower this week than a week ago.
Governor’s Stance on Vaccinating Prisoners Has Not Changed
As state prisons are seeing a surge of coronavirus cases, Governor Polis’s stance on vaccinating inmates has not changed.
People watching COVID-19 cases in state prisons said the governor does not have a clear plan to get inmates vaccinated. Colorado is one of only 11 states in the nation without any specific phase of vaccination for inmates according to the Prison Policy Institute.
KDVR reports that there have been almost 13,000 people who have tested positive in the correctional system since the beginning of the pandemic.
Denise Maes of the ACLU of Colorado said she thinks the prisoner situation is more than disappointing, it’s shameful, adding that ninety-seven percent of the individuals in prison will be released someday, and they were not sentenced to die there.
A spokesman from Gov. Jared Polis’ office told KDVR that the Governor believes it is their moral obligation to prioritize vaccinating seniors and the elderly living in nursing homes, and simultaneously to inoculate frontline healthcare heroes who treat COVID-19 patients a day-to-day basis.
New Report Says Colorado’s Economy Not Working for Most
It’s been tough for Colorado’s low wage workers to get by even in the best of times, but the pandemic made life even more difficult, according to a report released yesterday.
The study from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy says that the state’s economy is not working for most.
Tiffani Lennon, executive director of the Center said in comments accompanying the report that the findings demonstrate why we should not settle for simply a return to a ‘normal’ economy.
As of mid-October, high-wage jobs had almost fully recovered to their January levels, while low-wages jobs were still down by almost 18%, according to co-authors of the report.
The study found that rural residents throughout the Western Slope were disproportionately hit by job losses.
The state still needs to recover more than 130,000 jobs to get back to where it was before the pandemic hit.
Avalanche Warnings for Colorado
On Tuesday, weather forecasters issued a slew of avalanche warnings for the high country. The upcoming holiday weekend could see deadly conditions for those skiing in the backcountry.
Brian Lazar of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center told the Denver Post that the state’s snowpack is so dangerous right now.
While ski areas along I-70 and north did not receive as much, some other areas recently got a foot or more of snow.