Headlines March 3, 2021
Colorado’s Supply of Vaccines to Increase
Officials in Colorado are expecting the weekly supply of COVID-19 vaccines to increase significantly by next month. The state’s weekly vaccine allotment will grow from about 260,000 doses next week to just over 400,000 doses in early April.
The state will get its first doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, but, there will a drop-off in shipments of that vaccine due to production hurdles.
During a media briefing yesterday, Governor Jared Polis said that they are excited to add that vaccine to the arsenal of weapons that will allow the state to defeat the deadly virus.
The governor said that he is confident that summer will be very close to normal based on the predictions of vaccine supply and that people who want the vaccine will be able to get it in April and May.
The state will move to the next phase of its vaccination rollout on Friday — Coloradans age 60 to 64 and people with two or more chronic health conditions — after the state hit its goal of inoculating 70% of those over 70 by the end of last month.
Boulder Council Discusses Equity Strategy in Vaccine Distribution
Following the good news about more vaccines on their way to Colorado, Boulder City Council got a local update from the County’s Public Health Department last night.
In his final presentation to council prior to retirement, Executive Director Jeff Zayach announced there were fewer deaths in February than in previous months, and an 84% decrease in deaths in long-term care facilities. But Zayach spent most of his presentation emphasizing the ramp-up in vaccine availability.
Zayach: “We have capacity now for 20 to 25,000 vaccines per week. We’re still getting only around 7,000 to 8,000 and we are building capacity to closer to 35,000 per week. So there’s been a lot of work that’s been happening with the anticipation that we are going to be receiving a significant amount more of vaccine towards the end of March and the early part of April.”
Zayach said almost 60,000 Boulder County residents have received the vaccine, including 84% of those 70 and older, while half of those ages 65 to 69 have had at least one dose.
Indira Gujral, with the health department, said there remains a wide gap in the percentage of White residents who have received the vaccine compared to those who are Latinx and Asian, despite the county’s equity strategy to eliminate vaccination disparity. She also cited a survey that addressed vaccine gender issues, saying there is a trust factor based on concerns and rumors.
“We knew that the willingness to be vaccinated varied with race, ethnicity, and gender, and women, in particular, are less likely to have trust in the vaccine as compared to men. And we see this with African Americans and the LatinX community where some of it is down to almost 50 percent. And Out Boulder presented a similar survey that they did locally and their LGBTQ survey did show very similar results with this same kind of gender variation.”
Friday, March 5th is the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Colorado. Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver announced that in an effort to acknowledge what he called the community’s “collective grief,” Boulder will light up both the municipal building and Boulder Bandshell at Canyon and Broadway, as well as other city buildings including police and fire stations.
Democrats Taking Another Run at Public Option Health
Democrats in the state legislature are taking another run at passing a bill that would include a public option health insurance plan.
The goal, according to the bill’s sponsor, Democrat Dylan Roberts of Avon, is to provide an affordable option for people who are uninsured or buying their own insurance on the marketplace.
The Denver Post reports that this year’s effort comes after the measure was dropped last year as the pandemic hit.
The new bill would create a standard plan that insurance companies could choose to offer through the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace for individuals. But no one would have to buy it; it’s only a choice.
The proposed measure is already attracting opposition from a non-profit organization backed by private insurance companies. The Colorado Sun reports that the group has launched a barrage of advertising aimed at building public opposition to the public option.
The organization is known as Partnership for America’s Health Care Future and has made an ad buy at a cost of nearly $1 million for TV commercials in Denver, Grand Junction, and Colorado Springs.
Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat championing the public option, decried the big spending by opponents, saying that, if they’re spending $1 million, they must be protecting a profit much bigger than $1 million.
Governor Polis Demands that Customers Not Be Stuck with Higher Energy Costs from Cold Snap
Governor Polis demanded again yesterday that Colorado utility customers not be stuck with the full cost of emergency fuel boosted by last month’s frigid cold snap.
The Colorado Sun reports that the problem includes Xcel Energy as well as other providers which may try to pass on higher excess costs to gas and electric consumers. Polis however thinks the utilities should have warned consumers.
Polis: “I don’t think utilities should approach the state and say we want to charge consumers when during the period in time they weren’t out there notifying people: please cut back, turn off your lights, you know decrease your temperature by three degrees because that is a very simple easy way to show that yes you can reduce usage. If after all that every step you can within reason you’ve taken, to reduce usage, if there is still cost because of short term volatility then it’s a fair conversation about the proper allocation between shareholders and between customers.”
In a letter to Polis, Xcel said it would cooperate with the Public Utilities Commission as it looks into surcharge requests expected from five different Colorado utilities.
Longmont Approves School Resource Officers Agreement
The Longmont City Council voted unanimously last night to approve an agreement with the St. Vrain Valley School District for assigning police School Resource Officers to high schools and middle schools during the 2020-21 school year.
The school district will pay the city almost $1 million as its portion of the costs of the program officers’ salaries, including two officers each for three high schools and one for each of 6 middle schools.
The Times Call reports that the council heard from police and other officials, and city staff wrote that the SRO program “works to carefully select and specifically train a group of highly skilled community-oriented officers to work in collaboration with the St. Vrain Valley School District, other city departments and Restorative Justice.”
Boulder Police Gearing Up for Parties as St. Patrick’s Day Approaches
Boulder Police are bracing for parties and gatherings as the St. Patrick’s Day holiday approaches and CU students have returned to campus.
The Daily Camera reports that police broke up a party on University Hill last Saturday on 14th Street.
A social media post about the party shows a massive crowd at an apartment complex with no social distancing and little visible mask-wearing.
Police are still trying to identify the hosts of the party, but no citations have been issued yet, and it has not been confirmed that the hosts were CU students.
The university released a statement in relation to the party saying that it is clear to students that it is required under the code of conduct that they follow county health directives.
Police are anticipating having extra patrol units on the Hill in anticipation of any spring or St. Patrick’s Day parties.