Headlines January 5, 2021

Headlines January 5, 2021

Listen here:

(Download Audio)

33 Counties Move from Red to Orange on COVID-19 Dial But Health Officials Urge Caution

Monday marked a return to lower levels of coronavirus restrictions for 33 counties in Colorado —including all of the metro area. But a member of the state’s virus modeling task force says the relaxed rules come at a challenging time. Dr. Jon Samet, Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, told the Denver Post that the lower restrictions will have to be watched carefully. He says loosening the rules on things like indoor dining, while school districts also plan to return to remote learning, could pose a challenge to health systems if the virus surges again.

Under the return to what is called “Orange Level” restrictions, restaurants can reopen for in-person dining at 25% capacity. Fitness centers can also reopen with 25% capacity. And in-person gatherings of up to 10 people from two different households are also allowed again. But COVID-19 cases are still high in Colorado. The state reported more than 14,000 new cases last week—that’s a slight increase after three weeks of declining case numbers.

Hospitalizations have also decreased but are still at the highest numbers of the pandemic. Some health officials expressed concern about easing the dining and other restrictions while case numbers remain high.

Boulder County Has Rolled out Its New Community Vaccine Notification Program

Under the new program, Boulder County residents can now sign up to be notified when they are able to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

The Daily Camera reports that to be notified when the vaccine becomes available for your priority group, sign up at the county’s website, Bouldercounty.org.

Phase 1 of the distribution first goes to the almost 30,000 county residents who are 70 years old or older as well as teachers, grocery store employees, and other front-line workers.

County spokesperson Chana Goussetis said Goussetis said that the new notification system is separate from the notification system for health care workers and first responders.

She also added that the county has been receiving 500-700 doses each week.

Since the vaccine’s supply remains limited, it will be months before every Boulder County resident in Phase 1 receives the shot.

Boulder County reported Monday that there have been 155 new coronavirus cases and two new deaths. The two people who died were in their 70s and 90s and were residents of long-term care facilities.

Xcel to Close Coal Plant Earlier than Scheduled

The state’s largest utility announced Monday that it will close a northwest Colorado coal plant two years ahead of schedule. Xcel Energy says the coal-fired units at its plant in Hayden will be shut down in 2028 instead of 2030. A Sierra Club representative who was quoted in the Denver Post praised the early closure but said Xcel should also be moving to close its coal plant in Pueblo which is twice as big as the plant in Hayden.