Headlines September 22, 2021

Headlines September 22, 2021


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Polis Tells Older Residents to Get Booster Shots

Colorado Governor Jared Polis yesterday urged older residents to get booster shots against COVID-19, despite the fact that federal health officials have yet to approve them.

While a decision on boosters for older people could come from the Food and Drug Administration later this week, Polis said they could claim they have an immune system condition that would allow the booster under current rules.

Those parameters permit only those who have compromised immune systems, and have received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, to get a booster, but Polis said moving forward now will not reduce efforts to get first and second shots into other arms.

The governor said that older Coloradans could interpret the idea of “weakened immune system” far more liberally than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does, and any person in their 70s could say they qualify. Vaccine providers aren’t allowed to ask for proof of a qualifying condition and a person simply fills out a form checking a box saying they do.

The state is planning to get all residents of nursing homes vaccinated with a third does of the vaccine in the next three weeks.

Free Rapid Tests Available at Home

The Governor also announced yesterday that any Coloradan can sign up to receive a COVID-19 test at their home. Residents can sign up at a state website for the test which would arrive in four to seven days. The results of the rapid antigen test can be determined after it is received back, within 15 minutes.

Hospitalizations May Be Plateauing But Concerns Remain as Winter Approaches 

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s epidemiologist, said yesterday that while the number of current hospitalizations has been trending slightly lower, the upcoming cooler weather marks a transitional period in which the number could go either way.

Currently, there are around 900 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado.

She added that about 80 to 85% of the patients hospitalized with the virus are unvaccinated, which emphasizes the effectiveness of vaccines. Those parts of the state with the highest number of people hospitalized are those with the lowest vaccination rates.

Jefferson County Court Hearing over Schools’ Alleged Failure to Enforce Mask Mandate

Yesterday a judge in Jefferson County began hearing evidence against three Christian Schools that have allegedly failed to follow mask mandates.

The Jefferson County Public Health Department sued the Christian schools after finding that they were not enforcing mask requirements in classrooms

Dawn Comstock, the department’s executive director was the only person who testified yesterday. She said that COVID-19 infections in Jefferson County among school-aged children are rising even higher than for adults since schools recently opened, and it’s the first time that’s been seen in the state during the pandemic.

The three schools have said that they are following the county’s guidance, and they also claim the county’s health order is unconstitutional.

The Denver Post reports the courtroom was packed with supporters of the schools. At one point while she was testifying, Comstock asked them to wear their masks correctly. Judge Randall Arp told them to wear their masks over their noses and mouths and those who did not would be removed. Sheriff’s deputies did remove one person who refused to wear a mask.

Yesterday’s court proceeding will continue today.

Boulder Council Approves CU South Annexation 

Last night the Boulder City Council approved the CU South Annexation Agreement which covers development and flood mitigation on the more-than-300 acre site.

The Daily Camera reports that the agreement was approved by a vote of 6 to one, with councilmember Mirabai Nagel casting the lone ‘no’ vote. Council members Junie Joseph and Bob Yates recused themselves.

The approval follows years of debate, and the main factor in the decision was the view that flood mitigation is the city’s duty. About 2,300 residents live downstream of the land that is owned by the university.

While the city can now begin preliminary work on the project, such as obtaining permits, some Boulder residents have collected enough signatures to put the issue on the November ballot that would, if approved, require a vote of residents on the annexation.

Caregivers in Grand Junction Charged in Death of Woman

Three caregivers at an assisted living facility in Grand Junction have been charged in the death of an 86-year-old woman.

The three workers at the home are alleged to have left the woman, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, outside in June for six hours. The woman’s daughter told the Colorado Sun that her mother was found dead as temperatures rose to 106 degrees, and the area was under an air quality alert due to wildfire smoke.

Two of those charged were fired after an internal investigation and the third was placed on “investigatory leave,” according to the facility’s website.

Oil and Gas Operator Fined by State 

An oil and gas company has been fined more than $2 million by the state for a series of spills and leaks

KDVR reports that in a hearing yesterday, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission found that the operator, K.P. Kaufmann, engaged in a pattern of violations.

The COGCC had alleged that the company ignored flow line leaks and failed to act when notified of spills or leaks. The agency called the company unreliable, and unable to operate safely.

In a statement, the agency said the decision underscores the goal of the COGCC for companies to be in compliance to ensure protections for public safety, health and welfare.

According to the Denver Post, in an earlier case federal and state authorities reached a settlement agreement in 2020 with K.P. Kaufman requiring it to pay fines and make improvements based upon claimed air quality regulation violations.