Headlines May 17, 2021

Headlines May 17, 2021

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Metro Counties Move to Level Clear Relaxing Pandemic Restrictions

As of yesterday, businesses in the six metro Denver counties now have the option to operate the way they did before the pandemic.

Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver and Jefferson counties all moved to Level Clear on the state’s COVID-19 dial meaning they can be open at 100 percent capacity and not require face coverings.

On Friday Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced the effective end of the statewide mask mandate.

The governor said that the state has a reached a threshold where there are not enough people vaccinated to call an end to the pandemic, but enough people have received shots so that they no longer need to wear masks.

Mask-wearing is still encouraged for people who haven’t received shots, and will continue to be required through at least June 1 for unvaccinated people in assisted-living facilities, emergency medical settings, childcare facilities, and jails and prisons.

After that date, events with over 500 people will no longer need state approval to take place.

People who are vaccinated should still carry masks with them.  Some business owners are not yet ready to drop the mask requirement whether someone is vaccinated or not. Establishments may keep asking customers to wear masks, because they don’t have the resources or ability to verify someone’s vaccine status.

Colorado at Top of Virus Infection Rate for the Nation

The move by metro counties to Level Clear on the state’s COVID-19 Dial comes as the virus continues to tear through Colorado at levels rarely seen before during the pandemic.

On Sunday Colorado sat atop a New York Times tracker for national hotspots, recording the worst 7-day average rate for new coronavirus cases in the nation.  The state rose to the top spot on Friday.

The Colorado Sun reports that measurements of how well the virus is under control in the state are near the lowest they’ve been since the start of the pandemic. An estimated one out of every 81 people in the state is currently contagious with the virus. In March, that number was one out of every 350 people.

The most recent modeling projections produced by health experts at several Colorado universities estimate more virus will be in circulation this coming summer than last summer. And the virus that is circulating will be predominantly from more infectious variants.

Those making the modeling projections have said that, if the state relaxes restrictions now, more people will die from the virus by the end of July, than if it kept restrictions in place for a little while longer.

While there may be some breakthrough infections – meaning positive tests for those who have been vaccinated – according to a spokesperson for the state health department, the greatest risk is to those who are not vaccinated or are still in the process of reaching full immunization.

Air Quality Commission Seeks to Limit One Person Car Commutes

Employers in the state with more than 100 workers may have to start charging their employees for parking. Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division also wants those larger businesses to provide shuttles from transit stops and allow more working from home.

The Colorado Sun reports that the proposed measures would apply to the state’s high ozone areas and seeks to limit the number of workers commuting alone in cars to three-quarters of a company’s workforce starting next year.  That limit would then lower to 60 percent of an employer’s workforce by 2024.

Large employers would also have to appoint an official transportation coordinator and eliminate parking subsidies or start charging for currently-free parking under the rule proposal.

It’s not clear from the draft rules what enforcement mechanisms state government will have to encourage large companies to come under the limits. Environmental groups said the rules look promising, but they want to hear more about how they will be enforced.

Agency staff are asking the commission to set hearings and a vote on the new transportation rules by late summer.

Bill to Create Office to Curb Gun Violence Advances

A bill that, if passed, would create a state office designed to curb gun violence advanced at the State House of Representatives on Friday.

Colorado Politics reports that the measure is the second of three introduced since the mass shooting in a Boulder King Soopers store in March.

The bill seeks to create an Office of Gun Violence Prevention that would operate as a clearinghouse to compile data to help with decisions and strategies.  It could award grants to organizations that seek to implement gun violence prevention measures.

Over the objections from the chamber’s Republicans the bill now moves to a vote of the full House, which has already given its preliminary approval to a measure that would bar those with violent misdemeanor convictions from buying guns.

Bedrooms Are For People Announces Enough Signatures to Place Measure on Ballot 

The organization calling itself Bedrooms Are For People has announced that it has collected enough signatures to place a measure about Boulder housing limits on the November ballot.

The group seeks to change the city’s zoning laws that prohibit more than three unrelated people from living together in most homes in Boulder no matter how large a house is.

The initiative would expand access to housing by allowing units to be occupied by people equal to the number of bedrooms plus one per home.

In a release, the group says that, once the City of Boulder certifies the petition in June, its initiative would become the first in the nation to secure municipal ballot access via an online petitioning system.