Headlines April 7, 2021

Headlines April 7, 2021

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COVID-19 Variant Detected in Boulder County 

A new variant of COVID-19 has been detected for the first time in the state with two individuals having confirmed cases in Boulder County. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said yesterday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had notified state officials of the finding.

CDPHE said in a news release that the individuals’ travel histories are not known, and information about when they were tested or demographic data about them was not immediately available.

Public health officials originally identified the P.1 variant that was first found in Brazil. The Denver Post reports the variant pushed that country’s health system to the breaking point and has proven adept at reinfecting people who already had the virus.

To date, there have been 289  P.1 cases detected in 25 jurisdictions in the U.S., including the two new ones in Boulder County.

The state health department urged Coloradans to continue wearing masks and social distancing, which can reduce the spread of all known variants, and are the best tools for preventing the spread, no matter the strain.

Meanwhile, Boulder County Public Health reported an uptick in cases yesterday for those in young age groups up to 22 years old, while other age groups are steadily declining.

The County said Tuesday there were 32 new coronavirus cases and 21 new hospitalizations, but no new deaths in over three weeks.

Boulder Council Declares March 22 Day of Remembrance

Boulder City Council has declared March 22nd as a “Day of Remembrance” for the 10 people killed at the Boulder King Soopers grocery store last month.

Interim city manager Chris Meschuk provided a brief update to the council last night on what to expect going forward at the south Boulder site. He said at least one access point would soon be reopened, and plans are underway to create short and long-term memorials there.

After noting the atrocity that took 10 members of the community who were doing their jobs and feeding their families, Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver read the names of the 10 victims.

Weaver said, “As a modest and humble gesture the City Council of the City of Boulder declares that every year in perpetuity March 22 shall be designated the Boulder Day of Remembrance. On that day every year, our community will pause and remember the ten people who departed. On that day every year, we will celebrate their lives. On that day every year, we will say their names out loud so that in our hearts they will live on.”

Also last night, Boulder City Council passed a “Declaration of Solidarity” with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community in the wake of the March 16th murders in Atlanta, and other acts of violence, including attacks on elders throughout the U.S..

Commissioners Approve Rocky Flats Crossing

The Boulder County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with other jurisdictions to fund the construction of trail crossings into the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

Commissioners voted 2 to one in favor, with Matt Jones the lone dissenter. The Daily Camera reports that the commissioners did not take any verbal public comments during a hearing before the vote, however, 180 pages of comments were received by mail.

The crossings will be at Colo. Highway 128 and Indiana Street into a greenway at the refuge.

There has been opposition to the crossings because of the history and pollution of Rocky Flats. The area was opened for public recreation three years ago after more than a decades-long clean-up of the area that cost billions of dollars. The plant at Rocky Flats produced plutonium triggers for more than 30 years until 1989. 1,300 acres of the area remain off-limits as a Superfund site.

Commissioner Jones said he knows the chance of getting cancer is low, but he wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Commissioner Claire Levy said she understood concerns from the community but thinks the crossings will make accessing Rocky Flats safer. She added that the refuge already has people on the trails and for her it’s whether they get there safely on not.

State Lawmakers Debate Budget 

Colorado lawmakers this week began debating the state’s $34 billion budget. The Colorado Sun reports that the legislature was able to reverse funding cuts made as the pandemic descended upon the state last year.  Lawmakers now have hundreds of millions more to spend than they were anticipating because Colorado’s economy fared better than expected during the pandemic.

The budget includes spending of 3.8 billion dollars more next fiscal year than in the last one which ends June 30.

Bill Being Considered to Limit Solitary Confinement 

Also at the legislature, a bill is being considered that would greatly restrict when prisoners could place a person in solitary confinement. The Denver Post reports that hundreds of people in county jails across the state spend 22 hours a day or more sitting alone in a small cell.

The bill does not apply to all jail inmates and instead focuses only on juveniles, pregnant women, people with physical disabilities, and those with serious mental health diagnoses or symptoms. The restrictions also would only be for jails with more than 400 beds, according to Boulder Democratic Representative Judy Amabile who is sponsoring the bill.

Although Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said at a hearing yesterday that the bill was too much too soon, it was voted out of committee and sent to the full House.

Denver School Board Hires Firm to Investigate Allegations Against Anderson 

The Denver School Board has hired an outside firm to do a “thorough and independent fact-finding investigation” into allegations against school board member Tay Anderson. Anderson has been accused of sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior. The organization Black Lives Matter 5280 issued a statement in late March saying a woman told the group that Anderson sexually assaulted her. The statement said the woman wishes to remain anonymous.

Black Lives Matter 5280 said the accusations have not gone through a “formal legal process,” but the group is committed to “protecting, uplifting, and believing Black women, decidedly as it relates to sexual violence.”  Anderson, who is 22 years old, has denied the allegation, repeatedly saying that he has not sexually assaulted anyone and welcomes a full investigation.