Headlines April 12, 2021
State Enters Fourth Wave of Coronavirus
Colorado is now in its fourth wave of COVID-19 as more contagious variants of the disease have become the dominant form spreading across the state. Hospitalizations are at their highest level since mid-February and cases have risen sharply in recent weeks, though not among Coloradans 50 and older, who have mostly been vaccinated.
As of Sunday, 421 people were hospitalized with the virus and the seven-day moving average of the rate of positivity tests increased slightly to over 5.6%. It’s estimated that almost half of new cases in Colorado are among the strain of coronavirus first identified in the U.K., which is believed to be far more transmissible. Another 20% of cases are thought to be among the California variant, also believed to be more transmissible.
The Boulder County health department reported 55 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, but no new deaths. There were 20 people in the hospital in the county as of Friday due to COVID-19. And also on Friday, the University of Colorado Boulder reported seven positive tests.
In a statement Saturday, Governor Jared Polis said that more than 2 million people in the state have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Meanwhile, Centura Health said in a statement over the weekend that it will no longer offer the one-shot, Johnson and Johnson vaccine at three mass vaccination sites. The health provider said the decision to stop offering the one-shot vaccine was based on a national shortage and eleven adverse reactions that were reported last week at a vaccination site.
Cyber Attackers Demand Ransom from CU
The University of Colorado has received extortion demands related to a cyberattack that potentially compromised personal information from more than 300,000 files, including student data, medical information and several Social Security numbers.
On Jan. 25 University leaders were informed of the attack on its file-sharing system and immediately shut down the service. CU was one of at least 10 higher education institutions involved in the attack.
The Daily Camera reports that on Friday officials at the university said the attackers have posted small amounts of data on the dark web and threatened to post more if not paid.
The university stated that it does not intend to pay the ransom, following guidance from the FBI, adding that paying would not ensure that data is not posted, now or in the future, or that there would not be additional demands. Most of the files accessed by the attackers were from the Boulder campus, and some from the Denver campus.
Walkout at Fairview High School Protesting Sexual Violence
Students at Boulder’s Fairview High School walked out Friday to show support for survivors of sexual violence. The protest came two days after a former student was acquitted in a sex assault trial. The Daily Camera reports that hundreds of students, most of them dressed in black to show solidarity with survivors, streamed out of the school and walked to the football field.
Dr. Janine D’Anniballe, the director of the organization Moving to End Sexual Assault, told them that one challenge has always stood in the way of justice for victims – the fundamental issue of not believing the survivors.
None of the speakers mentioned the name of the former Fairview High student, but Aidan Atkinson’s case hung heavy over Friday’s walkout. Prosecutors had alleged he sexually assaulted one Fairview student and attempted to assault another while they were on a party bus celebrating homecoming in 2018. However, last week a jury found Atkinson not guilty on two counts of sexual assault, one count of attempted sexual assault and two counts of unlawful sexual contact. Atkinson also has a pending sexual exploitation case later this month.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Boulder to Receive $20 Million from American Rescue Plan
The City of Boulder is expecting to receive about $20 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, the relief package approved by Congress last month. The money would come over a two-year period. However, according to the Daily Camera, the city has not yet made plans for how those funds will be distributed. Boulder’s Director of Communication and Engagement said it is way too early to say how the city might leverage the funds.
The City Council has a financial update discussion planned for April 27. The city will likely consider budget guidance, and input from the COVID-19 response steering committee when prioritizing the funding.
Environmental Group Sues EPA over Front Range Air Quality
Wildearth Guardians, the nonprofit environmental organization, sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week over air quality along the Front Range. The suit claims that the agency has not taken action to determine Colorado was out of compliance with the Clean Air Act because parts of the Front Range including Boulder, Denver, Broomfield and Larimer County have exceeded air quality standards.
The complaint also alleges the state was required to submit a clean-up plan for ozone pollution last August but did not do so.
Wildearth Guardians say that the EPA’s delay in taking action against the state is effectively denying clean air for the region. The suit asked the court to force the EPA to make its determination within 15 days.
Human Composting Bill Close to Passage
The Colorado legislature is close to passing a bill that would offer people the option of turning their bodies into soil after death through human composting. Currently, Washington is the only state that has approved the method of dealing with a person’s body after they die.
The Denver Post reports the process uses little energy and would cost about as much as cremation. The measure was considered during last year’s session but did not make it due to COVID.