Headlines August 24, 2021

Headlines August 24, 2021

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COVID-19 Update

COVID caseloads continue on an upward trajectory across Colorado and Boulder County is no exception, despite its high vaccination rates among those eligible.

Boulder County Public Health is reporting a seven-day average of 123 cases per 100 thousand residents. Positivity rates are hovering around four percent. The sharpest increase in cases in recent days has been in the 10 to 17-year-old age group. Cases may rise further with the start of in-person classes both at the K-12 and university levels. To mitigate the spread of the virus, the Boulder Valley School District has a mask mandate in effect. Boulder County health authorities are also asking all people above the age of 2 years old to mask while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Parents Protest Douglas County Mask Mandate

Mask mandates are encountering pushback in other parts of the state. According to Denver7 hundreds of people gathered on Monday to protest the Douglas county school board’s mask mandate chanting, “freedom over fear.” The school board passed the mandate last Friday despite the county commissioner’s decision to opt-out of wearing a mask. During the protest,  parents and advocates surrounded three counter-protesters and tried to get them to leave. Meanwhile, another 63 COVID cases were reported in the Douglas County school district Monday, including 15 from Chaparral High School.

Routine Childhood Vaccination Rates Down

The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment is asking parents and guardians to get their kids vaccinated— not just for COVID-19, but for the other 16 infectious diseases including measles, whooping cough, mumps, polio and chickenpox.

According to self-reported data, overall vaccine rates are down for the 2020-21 school year. For Polio and chickenpox, over 10% of kids are not vaccinated. A press release from the Department of Health says that COVID disrupted routine vaccinations with a 40% decline in weekly childhood and adolescent vaccination rates.

New Report Shows 8K Colorado Students Would Benefit from Path to Citizenship

New data shows that over 620,000 students at a K-12 level nationwide would benefit from a path to citizenship – including around 8 thousand in Colorado.

The current immigration bill in congress is part of the plan to use in the $3.5 trillion budget that has policy changes on immigration. FWD.us reports that the plan would provide the 620,000 students the stability and certainty that a pathway to citizenship can provide. These students are at risk of being separated from their families by deportation.

FWD.u.s.’ Colorado State Immigration Director Marissa Molina says that these students will face barriers many of their peers do not, including the inability in many states to obtain a driver’s license or may also be ineligible for part-time jobs or to qualify for in-state tuition rates.

In July, Texas Federal Judge Andrew Hanen concluded in his decision that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA, is unlawful because it violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs federal rulemaking. This halts the DACA program’s ability to accept new applicants.

Of the nearly 620,000 K-12 undocumented students in the United States, nearly 9 in 10 of them do not qualify for DACA protections. At least 100,000 of these undocumented students are waiting for a decision on their asylum applications.

Western Wildfires Update

Ongoing western fires may cause haze across Colorado for the next couple weeks. The Lake Tahoe Basin fire is the most recent wildfire to hit a drought-stricken California. So far, the blaze has destroyed over 550 buildings and much of Grizzly Flats, a small community 65 miles east of Sacramento.

According to 9News, “Experts have attributed the state’s increasingly intense fire seasons to a historic drought magnified by climate change and a century of fire suppression policies that built up dense forests that can act as kindling”