Headlines January 20, 2021
Polis Frustrated Over Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccine
Yesterday Governor Jared Polis expressed his frustration, and recognized everyone’s frustration, over the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, but he said he remains confident that anyone over 70 who wants the vaccine will be able to get it by the end of February.
Polis said that Colorado is not getting enough vaccine from the federal government anywhere in the state, and said it could use three to five times as much vaccine each week with its current distribution infrastructure.
9News reports that the governor sent a letter this week directing all providers to hand out all the vaccines they have on hand instead of holding any back for a second dose. This will result in more people getting their first dose this week.
It is still unclear when the state will open up vaccinations to those age 65 and older. Polis said it depends on the supply.
Polis said he has spoken with the incoming Biden administration to express his concerns about the vaccine supply chain and getting vaccine information sooner. He said it’s difficult for hospitals and other providers to plan without more than the three or four days’ notice they have received under the Trump administration.
Polis and both of Colorado’s Senators announced yesterday that the state will receive almost $200 million from a Federal Emergency Management Agency program to support the state’s COVID-19 testing sites.
Senator Michael Bennett said that the funding will help the governor and local health agencies meet testing needs.
Colorado Honors Those Who Have Died from COVID-19
Colorado took part in the “National Memorial to Lives Lost to COVID-19” yesterday afternoon. The Denver City and County Building was lit up in amber tones as bells rang to honor and remember those who have died from the virus.
Those who have lost family members were asked to light candles.
Colorado Politics reports that cities around the country participated in the ceremony, including Washington D.C. which featured a lighting at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and several live-streamed speakers.
CU Boulder Talks to City Council about Spring Semester
Boulder County recorded 10 new coronavirus deaths yesterday, and 89 new cases. Of those cases, CU Boulder showed 14 positive results during testing on Monday.
Meanwhile, the University made a presentation to Boulder City Council last night about expectations for the spring semester.
CU had already announced it would start the semester three days later on January 14th, and cancel the traditional spring break – instead, spreading out days off for students in an effort to curb the spread of travel-related coronavirus infections.
CU’s Chief Operating Office Pat O’Rourke also said CU plans to respond when students don’t comply with the rules.
“As you know we unfortunately had to suspend students last semester for behaviors that were inconsistent with public health orders and community health. We don’t take those actions lightly and we want nothing more than for our students to be able to succeed. But we do need to abide by public health requirements. We know that there will be instances where students don’t meet our expectation. And we are working with the Boulder Police Department, the CU [Police Department], as well as Student Conduct to respond whenever we’re learning of those behaviors that pose risks to the community,” said O’Rourke.
O’Rourke said CU has been asked to be a distribution point for vaccines when they’re available, but noted that the university has so far received a very limited number of vaccines for health care workers. In good news, Boulder County reported that in the past week, public health officials have seen a decline in the five-day average of new COVID-19 cases.
Polis Activates National Guard During Inauguration
Governor Polis said he will issue an executive order activating the Colorado National Guard to help respond to any potential violence that might arise during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration today.
The order follows a warning by the FBI of plans for armed demonstrations in all 50 state capitals leading up to Biden’s swearing-in.
Polis said that our democracy preserves the sacred right to free speech, but it does not enable or facilitate the perpetuation of violence or destruction.
According to the governor, state officials are “not aware” of a specific threat to Colorado beyond the FBI’s earlier warning to states.
The Denver Post reports that the Colorado State Patrol, the Denver Police Department, and other police agencies will provide security at the state Capitol.
Denver police also took to social media Tuesday to remind people that it’s illegal to openly carry firearms in the city. Violators will be subject to arrest, the department said on Twitter.
Xcel Proposes Charge to Customers for Protection Against Wildfires
Xcel Energy wants to charge its Colorado customers almost $600 million during the next five years to reduce their risk of causing wildfires.
Xcel’s subsidiary, Public Service Company of Colorado, has cited the catastrophic wildfires in California started by Pacific Gas and Electric as motivation for the proposal.
Xcel, is asking its 1.5 million customers in the state to pay for the work with a monthly fee on their bills.
But the Colorado Sun reports that consumer advocates aren’t buying it. While the cost is relatively small — less than 1% of a bill’s monthly total — they say Xcel should spread out some of the financial burden for this work to shareholders and not just customers, especially during an unstable economy.
A Public Utilities Commission judge is expected to make a recommendation to the commission on the proposal.