Headlines January 18, 2021
Denver Capitol Calm Despite Calls for Protests Sunday
Despite nationwide calls for armed protests ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, only a handful of people showed up at the Colorado Capitol in Denver yesterday.
On social media it was billed as the “Refused to Be Silenced — Stand Up For Liberty” rally. However, the Denver Post reports that at the noon start time, members of the news media outnumbered apparent protesters three-to-one, and the demonstrators never coalesced into an organized group or professed a clear purpose.
Denver police said they are aware of two planned protests this week. Several Denver city government buildings in the downtown area and Civic Center will be on modified operations this week as a safety consideration because of the anticipated demonstrations.
Delivery of Colorado Vaccine Slowed
Gov. Jared Polis on Friday said he was “shocked” to learn that Colorado will be receiving far fewer doses of coronavirus vaccine this week.
The Colorado Sun reports that the state had anticipated an increase in doses after the Trump administration’s promise to speed up distribution, but that turned out not to be true.
Polis said bluntly, “We were lied to,” and he said he was told by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, and Vice President Mike Pence that an increase in doses was coming.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that the nation’s vaccine reserves had already been exhausted when the Trump administration vowed to release them and push out more doses.
Colorado was expecting to receive 210,000 doses of the vaccine this week. But the Governor said on Twitter that now they have learned the state will get less than 80,000.
Boulder County Health Data
Boulder County on Sunday reported 74 new coronavirus cases, but no new deaths. CU Boulder reported on its online coronavirus dashboard that there were 14 positive tests as of Friday.
State Health Department Takes Steps to Assure Non-Citizens Will Get Vaccinated
Meanwhile, on Sunday Colorado’s public health department sent a letter to providers across the state directing them not to require government IDs or other documentation before people are inoculated against COVID-19. The action seeks to ensure that non-citizens will get vaccinated.
Medical facilities and local health agencies that do not follow the state’s directive may lose access to their vaccine supply, according to Scott Bookman, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
In his letter, Bookman wrote that whether someone is a U.S. citizen or not, we are all in this together, and if you would like a vaccine, you will be able to get one according to what vaccine phase you are in.
The Denver Post reports that providers who are now authorized to vaccinate members of the general public 70 and older, can ask a person’s name, date of birth and address, but recommend they operate on an “honor system” with regard to people’s ages rather than asking to see an ID.
Health officials expect to get to essential workers in the second half of Phase 1B, including teachers and grocery store employees, some officials in state government, and frontline journalists — in March.
Phase 2, which includes people 60 to 69 and those with preexisting health conditions, will follow later in the spring, with the rest of the public eligible by summer.
Boebert Sued Over Blocking Constituent on Twiter
Lauren Boebert, the controversial Republican Congresswoman from Rifle, Colorado, has been sued in federal court on allegations that she violated the free speech rights of one of her constituents by blocking her on Twitter.
Bri Buentello, a former Democratic state representative from Pueblo, filed the complaint yesterday saying that Boebert blocked her after she criticized the congress member.
The lawsuit asks the court to compel Boebert to unblock Buentello. It also seeks damages and attorney fees. The Colorado Sun reports that Boebert’s congressional office declined to comment.
The legal action is the latest controversy to surround Boebert, who desired to carry a handgun in the U.S. Capitol. Her personal Twitter account was briefly suspended after she shared baseless claims about Democrats rigging the 2020 presidential election.
Buentello, who sued Boebert, served two years in the Colorado legislature before losing her reelection bid in November. She has called Boebert a “white supremacist and unapologetic fascist.”
RTD Chief Questions Denver-Longmont Rail Line
RTD’s new CEO and General Manager, Debra Johnson has questioned whether it is wise to pursue a rail line from Denver to Longmont.
Colorado Public Radio reports that RTD promised the line in 2004 as part of the voter-approved FasTracks program, but rising costs have delayed the project by decades.
Speaking at an event organized by Boulder Transportation Connections last week Johnson said that the fixation on rail is sexy and everyone wants to ride the iron horse, but they have to keep in mind what might be more viable.
She added that the “ridership is not there” for RTD to get federal money to help complete the project.
Erika Vandenbrande, Boulder’s director of transportation and mobility, said the B Line is still one of the city’s long-term goals, though she acknowledged the financial realities now facing RTD. She said she didn’t know what the right answer is, but it will take a lot of discussion, thought, and reflection.