Headlines September 8, 2021

Headlines September 8, 2021

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New COVID Cases Highest Since Early January 

New cases of COVID-19 infections are at the highest level they’ve been in Colorado since early January.

Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also show that hospitalizations are getting close to the peak they reached in the spring months of 2020. As of yesterday, more than 950 people were hospitalized in the state with confirmed or suspected cases.

The Denver Post reports that deaths from COVID-19 are also rising – 71 people died during the week ending August 29 – about twice more than those in the first week of the month.

Beth Carlton, a professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, said that the risk of exposure to the virus is high for everyone now, but the difference is that vaccinated people are less likely to get infected, and if they are, their risk of severe illness is substantially lower. She added that the best way to protect people against the more dangerous variants is to get vaccinated.

In other COVID-19 news, CDPHE has announced it is providing all K-12 schools with free testing for the school year. The screening is voluntary and is a rapid antigen test for all students and staff at public and private schools. The department said the tests would be available this week.

Vaccine Vans Taken Off Streets in Jeffco Due to Harassment 

In Jefferson County, the head of the public health agency has taken its three COVID-19 vaccination vans off the road after nurses and medical staff were harassed by passersby.

The director of the county health department told the Denver Post that the staff of a mobile vaccine clinic in Gilpin County were yelled at and threatened by motorists. Jefferson County provides service there on a contract.

One driver ran over and destroyed temporary signs the clinic had put up around its vaccine tent. A nurse at another mobile site in Jefferson County had an unknown liquid thrown at her.

Denver’s Civic Center Park Will Be Closed

Officials in Denver said yesterday that they are shutting off Civic Center Park to public access beginning on September 15. Authorities say the closure is necessary because of health, safety and environmental problems.

It’s not clear yet when the park will reopen. It extends from the City and County Building to the State Capitol.

The deputy director of Parks and Recreation told CBS4 that it could be closed for at least two months citing violent incidents in the area in addition to unsanitary conditions where unhoused people are living.

Outdoor Space Order in Boulder May Be Extended

The City of Boulder may extend its permitting of some downtown businesses to expand outdoor dining into to streets. At its meeting on Thursday, the council will review whether to extend an emergency order until April 1st.

The Daily Camera reports that portions of Pearl Street, 10th street, and Pennsylvania Avenue are currently closed for businesses to expand their spaces. The former city manager, Jane Brautigam issued the original order in May 2020.

Various council members are already in favor of the extension, and the city is exploring a pilot program for outdoor dining that could be continued after the pandemic is over.

King Soopers Mass Shooting Defendant to Undergo Evaluation in Boulder 

Yesterday the judge presiding over the trial of the alleged shooter at the King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive ordered him to undergo an evaluation to determine if he is competent to proceed.

The Daily Camera reports that Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty asked the judge that the evaluation be done at the county jail because of long waits and a backlog at the state mental health facility in Pueblo.

Judge Ingrid Bakke agreed saying the case needs to move on adding that she hoped doing the evaluation locally would be faster.

The defendant, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and numerous other crimes after the killings in March at the Boulder grocery store.

A preliminary hearing in the case has been delayed for the mental health evaluation.

The next court date is scheduled for October 19 after the competency report is finished. Should Alissa be found to be incompetent, he would be committed to a facility for treatment and the proceedings against him paused. If he is found competent the case would move forward.

Meatpacker in Greeley Fined over Worker Injury

JBS, the giant meatpacking company, has been fined nearly $175,000 because a worker at the company’s Greeley facility lost his arm after he was caught in a conveyor belt.

In February the worker was entangled in the machine and according to the Greeley Tribune, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration determined that JBS hadn’t put proper guards around the conveyor belt, and employees didn’t know to wear a plastic device that ensures smock sleeves don’t dangle.

The company was fined last year after six employees died from COVID-19 and nearly 300 were infected with the virus.