Headlines June 21, 2021

Headlines June 21, 2021

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Wildfires Burning Across Dry and Hot Colorado

Yesterday, three new wildfires were reported across the state as hot and dry conditions persist.

One near Sylvan Lake State Park in Eagle County led to evacuations of campers and surrounding areas. The Sylvan Fire is estimated to be 180 acres and is being fueled by high winds.

In Pitkin County a fire is burning near Frying Pan Road, and another in Moffatt County in the northwest part of Colorado has been named the West Fire.

The Denver Channel reports that a lightning-sparked fire in Mount Falcon Park in Jefferson County flared up Sunday. The park remains closed.

Last evening the state health department issued An Air Quality Health Advisory for Wildfire Smoke for Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Routt, and Eagle Counties including Glenwood Springs, Vail, Eagle and Steamboat Springs.

The advisory means that people should remain indoors if smoke becomes thick. Those with respiratory or heart conditions, and the very young, and elderly should limit outdoor activity.

Governor Signs Youth Mental Health Bill into Law

Young people in Colorado will be able to obtain three free sessions with a mental health provider under a new bill signed into law by Governor Jared Polis on Friday at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

The Aurora Sentinel reports that the legislation provides $9 million in order to create a temporary youth mental health services program in the state’s Department of Human Services.  It’s expected the effort could serve over 25,000 children in Colorado.

Recently Children’s Hospital declared a state of emergency for the mental health of young people after an alarming rise in suicide attempts and other issues.

Some experts and lawmakers have said the measure is just a beginning on having a functional mental health system for young people.

Governor Signs Gun Measures into Law

On Saturday, Governor Polis signed three gun control bills into law which were a result of the mass shooting at a King Soopers store in Boulder in March where 10 people were killed.

One of the laws will allow local governments, and public higher education institutions to enact stronger gun restrictions than those of the state.

A second new law requires gun dealers to complete a background check on a potential buyer before transferring the weapon.

And the third bill Polis signed will create the Office of Gun Violence and Prevention in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The office will promote efforts to reduce gun violence and provide grants to organizations working on gun violence especially in high-risk communities.

The governor had earlier signed three other gun control measures into law.

The Colorado Sun reports that, not since 2013, had state lawmakers passed such a large package of firearm legislation. That year’s legislative session came on the heels of the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting.

COVID-19 Variant Leads to Pleas for People to Get Vaccinated

COVID-19 infections from a dangerous new variant are surging across Colorado leading health officials to increase the urgency of their pleas for people to get vaccinated.

The Colorado Sun reports that what is being called the Delta variant has grown to account for an estimated 40 percent of all new infections in the state.  Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist said that as of this point the Delta Variant is the most transmissible of those they have seen.

For most people who have been fully vaccinated, this news shouldn’t cause too much alarm. While the vaccines are believed to be slightly less effective against the Delta variant compared with other forms of the virus, they still offer strong protection.

But it is less likely those who are unvaccinated will be able to avoid infection.  The variant is just too good at jumping from one vulnerable person to another vulnerable person.

The Delta variant has been found in 24 counties in the state and is most prevalent in Mesa County in west Colorado.

As the state opens up and returns to life as it was before the pandemic, there is now more danger to people who aren’t vaccinated due to the Delta variant.

La Raza Park Celebration in Denver

People celebrated yesterday at Denver’s newly named La Raza Park. The Denverite reports that hundreds turned out to commemorate the park’s new sign and to celebrate the summer solstice.

For at least 50 years activists have tried to get the park’s name changed from honoring Christopher Columbus.

It has unofficially been known as La Raza to locals and has been a gathering place for the Mexican-American community.

Jay Alire, a Chicano activist told the Denverite the change signifies the years of struggle that people waged to change the name of the park, and they fought so the park can be a haven for ceremonies and for their communities to come together and feel proud of who they are.

Juneteenth Celebrations in Boulder County 

And people in Longmont celebrated Juneteenth during an inaugural legacy picnic on Saturday. The Daily Camera reports that the event was one of several across the county after President Joe Biden signed a law making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865, when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to tell enslaved people that they were free.

At another Boulder County event on Saturday, 94-year-old Opal Lee, who was with Biden when he signed the bill, spoke to residents. Lee who is known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth said that the national holiday provides recognition of the nation’s history, and has the potential to catalyze positive change from bettering education in schools to addressing wage gaps and climate change.

The inaugural event was created in partnership between the Executive Committee for African American Cultural Events’ and the NAACP Boulder County.