Headlines September 13, 2021
State ICU Beds Reach Critical Level
On Friday, Colorado health officials sounded the alarm about the continuing spread of COVID-19, as the state now has fewer intensive care beds available than at any other time during the pandemic.
The number of open ICU beds dropped below 200 on Thursday and increased slightly on Friday.
Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show that over 80 percent of those now hospitalized in the state are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and 85 percent of deaths in the state are from that group.
Scott Bookman of CDPHE said that the burden of the unvaccinated on hospitals is profound, and hospitals have begun canceling or postponing elective surgeries, and converting rooms and entire floors for treating coronavirus patients.
State Health Department Recommends Masks for All in K-12 Schools
The state health department also updated its protocols for schools on Friday, recommending mask mandates for everyone inside schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. CDPHE is urging local health officials and school districts to implement mask requirements for all students, staff, teachers and visitors regardless of vaccination status.
Jeffco Will Provide Security for Vaccinators
In Jefferson County, nurses and staff members with the mobile vaccine units will now be accompanied by security personnel. The necessity to protect them comes after the county health department had to pull vans off the street because a driver in Gilpin County drove over and destroyed signs around one of them.
The Associated Press reports that other vaccine providers have been verbally abused. And last month someone threw live fireworks into a tent with nurses and staff members.
A spokesperson for the county said they will not be intimidated out of its public health mission and will arrange security to keep staff safe.
Republicans in Statehouse Criticize Biden’s Vaccination Mandates
President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Denver tomorrow. Just ahead of his visit, some Republicans in the state House of Representatives are criticizing Biden’s efforts to get more people vaccinated.
Last week the president announced plans to impose vaccine mandates on federal and many health care workers, and to order all private-sector employers with 100 workers or more to require vaccinations or weekly testing.
Six Colorado conservatives in the state house of representatives wrote a letter to the White House saying that the executive order is discriminatory and unconstitutional and stated that Biden is not a king or dictator.
CU Regent Ganahl Announces Bid for Governor
In other political news, Heidi Ganahl, a regent of the University of Colorado filed paperwork on Friday to run for Governor.
Colorado Politics reports that, in addition to being the only statewide elected Republican, Ganahl is the head and founder of a national dog daycare chain. A resident of Douglas County, she plans a formal announcement of candidacy tomorrow. Other Republicans have already thrown their hats in the race to take on Governor Jared Polis, including the former mayor of Parker, Greg Lopez.
However, Republican leaders have told the Denver Post that they expect Ganahl will not have a serious primary opponent.
State Trooper Charged with Menacing
A Colorado State Patrol officer has been charged with felony menacing by the Denver District Attorney’s Office.
Trooper Jay Hemphill is alleged to have pointed his gun at a driver while he crossed the street near the Capitol building. The Denver Post reports that Hemphill is assigned to protect the governor and the statehouse. An arrest affidavit states that he pulled out his gun and yelled at a woman as he crossed in front of her truck.
The State Patrol has placed Hemphill on leave from his duties.
Denver Schools Talk to City about Allowing Security Officers to Issue Tickets
Denver Public Schools are talking with city officials about allowing armed patrol officers to issue tickets to students.
Chalkbeat Colorado reports that over the last year DPS removed police officers from its schools.
If the city agrees to the plan, school patrol officers who are armed could issue charges against students for things like fighting and possession of marijuana and about 15 municipal violations. The security officers are not sworn police.
However, some critics accuse the school district of a bait and switch. Elsa Bañuelos, of the advocacy group Padres & Jovenes Unidos, said that the district is just finding new ways of criminalizing students. The organization has long advocated an end to the school-to-prison pipeline, and says the new arrangement is contrary to the board resolution removing police from schools.
Data shows that black students in Denver are disproportionately ticketed or arrested at school.
Fairview Students Walkout
Students at Fairview High School in Boulder walked out of school on Friday protesting the administration’s handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints. It’s not the first time students have held such rally.