Headlines April 14, 2021

Headlines April 14, 2021

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County Health Departments Adjust as State COVID-19 Dial Set to Expire 

Some details were released yesterday about how counties in the Denver Metro area will go forward with pandemic restrictions after the mandatory statewide COVID-19 dial comes to an end.

At a news conference with Governor Jared Polis, the executive director of the Tri-County Health Department said that there will be a Metro Denver Partnership for Health to develop a regional plan. 9News reports that the counties involved are Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, Denver, Adams and Arapahoe. Many health departments throughout the state are issuing their own guidance as the executive order mandating limits set out by the state dial ends on Friday.

Together, the metro counties will have a timeline to guide the region through a recovery phase, and then full reopening by summer with a new category called “Level Clear.”

Douglas County was notably absent from the list of metro jurisdiction which have agreed to participate. The Douglas County Commissioners voted unanimously to opt-out of Tri-County public health orders, declaring that “this pandemic is over.” While restaurants and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity there, the state mask mandate will remain in place in the county.

Also yesterday the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the state Joint Vaccine Task Force said they are requiring providers to temporarily stop administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the state. The move comes after federal regulators reported rare blood clots in six women nationwide after receiving that vaccine. The state health department said in a release that these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. About 1 in ten vaccinated people in Colorado have received the Johnson & Johnson shot.

The state health department also announced that due to irregularities in storage and handling of some COVID-19 vaccines at a clinic in Colorado Springs, about 4,000 people will need to be revaccinated.  Those who received a shot at the Dr. Moma Clinic will be offered another.

Free in-home coronavirus testing will be available to certain front-line workers. The state health department said that hotel, hospitality and retail workers among others are eligible for the in-home testing.

Colorado reported over 1,900 COVID cases on Tuesday while Boulder County Public Health said there were 113 new cases, but no new deaths.

Boulder Passes Ordinance Regulating Electric Devices on Streets and Sidewalks

The Boulder Council adopted an ordinance last night to regulate human and electric-powered micro-mobility devices on streets, paths and sidewalks. Senior Transportation Planner Dave Kemp said there’s a great diversity of devices already on the streets – from scooters to one-wheels to electric-cycles and the new ordinance will regulate where and how they can operate. Kemp emphasized that all vehicles whether they’re human or electric-powered must yield to pedestrians. He said getting the word out about the ordinance is next.

“In our communications plan we have developed specific goals to translate the regulations in clear and understandable terms in both Spanish and English, to educate community members on the safe use of micro-mobility devices in shared spaces. It’s important to note that city staff has been working closely with several departments at CU Boulder regarding the proposed regulations and the communication strategy. We are striving for a seamless transition to micro-mobility devices between CU campus and the city in terms of regulation and our communication tactics,” Kemp explained.

Kemp said the expanding use of micro-mobility vehicles has the potential to help reduce single-occupant vehicle trips and provide more travel choices. To that end, the City also has issued a request for proposals to find a company that will transition Boulder’s bicycle sharing program to incorporate e-bikes and e-scooters.

Judge Denies Gag in King Soopers Shooting Case

A Boulder judge denied a request made by public defenders for the alleged gunman in the King Soopers shooting that prosecutors and law enforcement should be banned from making public statements outside of the courtroom.

Colorado Public Radio reports that defense attorneys representing the 21-year-old accused of killing 10 people in March wanted to severely restrict information released to the public about the investigation, citing the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty resisted the order, saying while he respected the defendant’s right to a fair trial, he said state statutes compelled him to release some details about the investigation.  The next scheduled appearance for the defendant is May 25.

Gun Control Bill Would Clarify Relinquishment by Domestic Violence Offenders

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser testified yesterday before the state legislature in support of a bill that aims to protect domestic violence survivors. Colorado law currently requires some domestic violence offenders to relinquish firearms and to refrain from purchasing guns for the duration of a protection order. House Bill 21-1255 would clarify the law to determine how and when guns must be relinquished.

According to CBS4, Weiser said that “Limiting access to firearms for those subject to domestic violence-related protection orders is a commonsense health and safety measure.”

Animal Rights Supporters Back Bill to Prohibit Traveling Performances

Also at the Capitol, Colorado lawmakers moved closer to passing a bill that would prohibit using certain animals in traveling performances like circuses.  The bill is supported by animal rights organizations, but livestock and rodeo groups oppose it. The proposal prohibits performances in which animals are required to perform tricks, or give rides, but does not include rodeos, stock shows, zoos with shows used for educational purposes or wildlife sanctuaries.

Bill to Expand Release Program for Certain Prisoners

Colorado lawmakers are also on a path to expand a program that would assist people convicted of felonies before they were 21 years old. The expanded program would include people who have served at least 20 to 30 years of their sentence.

The Colorado Sun reports that the goal is to give a second chance to people who have acknowledged the harm of their crime and have worked toward growth.

Colorado created the program in 2016 following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 that found sentencing juveniles to life without the possibility of parole constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Proponents of the legislation to expand eligibility cite growing research on adolescent brain development that shows the part of the brain that controls impulses and decision-making undergoes significant changes throughout adolescence and doesn’t fully develop until age 25.

The bill is currently making its way through the committee process in the state house.