Headlines – October 13, 2021

Headlines October 13, 2021

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Latinos Protest Boulder Valley School District Recall 

A protest against a recall election of school board members was held yesterday before a meeting of the Boulder Valley School District. Latino parents organized the rally. Some of those at the protest expressed their concern that the recall attempt, which is still in the signature gathering stage, was aimed at removing Richard Garcia, the only Latino member of the school Board, along with two others, Kathy Gebhardt, and Lisa Sweeney-Miran.

Colorado First State to Require Gender Affirming Care for Some Insurance 

Colorado will be the first state in the U.S. to require some health care plans to cover comprehensive services for transgender persons. The joint announcement was made by the state and the U.S. government yesterday. The Colorado Sun reports that some insurers will now have to provide gender affirming care including certain surgical procedures, hormone therapy and mental health services, among others.

The new benefits were included by the Colorado Division of Insurance after meetings with insurance companies. The requirement applies to plans offered only by small employers and to those who buy health insurance on their own without help from an employer. That includes about half a million people in the state. Just like cancer treatments or maternity care, the new benefits are considered essential. One of President Joe Biden’s top health officials said that they hope this marks an historic beginning, and that other states look to Colorado as a model. The new requirements will go into effect in 2023.

New Redistricting Maps for State House and Senate Approved by Commission 

New districts for the Colorado State Senate were approved last night by a commission established through voter-approved constitutional amendments. The Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission unanimously voted to send the proposal to the Colorado Supreme Court for its review.

On Monday night the commission approved a new map for the State House, which, the Colorado Sun reports, appears also to keep Democrats in power in the lower chamber. The state Supreme Court has until Nov. 15 to approve the state legislative maps or send them back to the commission for revisions.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments about New Congressional Districts 

Yesterday the court heard arguments about new districts in the state for electing representatives to the federal Congress. About a half a dozen groups tried to convince the justices to send the maps back to the commission because of race and diversity. A representative of The Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization argued that newly drawn District 8 should be redrawn to give minority-preferred candidates a better chance. District 8 would stretch from the north Denver area to Greeley.

An attorney for the League of Latin American Citizens tried to convince the justices that District 8 should be redrawn with southern Colorado in mind to prevent dilution of minority voices. However, 9News reports that an attorney representing the commission said that it is impossible to draw districts with every community of interest in mind.  He said that Colorado is too big and diverse to do that.

COVID Hospitalizations Increase While Ambulances Are Diverted to Other Facilities 

New data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show that there are more people hospitalized in the state with COVID-19 than at any other time this year. And now the state has passed 8,000 deaths from the coronavirus, about 1,000 of those occurring since June. More than three-quarters of Coloradans currently hospitalized are unvaccinated.

A spokesperson for the Colorado Hospital Association says that some facilities are diverting ambulances to other hospitals because of beds being filled, staff shortages, and more trauma cases. Diverting patients to other hospitals can go on for hours at a time while volume is managed.   The spokesperson added that trauma cases will not be turned away, but it could be a stroke patient, or a potential heart attack that could be directed to go to another hospital.

Head of Air Quality Agency Moves to Different Department 

The State of Colorado confirmed yesterday that the head of the state’s Air Pollution Control Division has stepped down. Gary Kaufman has been moved to another job in state government just weeks after the Colorado Attorney General’s office issued a report concluding he did not disclose potential conflicts of interest for two and a half years. The air quality agency has been subject to increased criticism lately as the metro region’s pollution is viewed as a problem.

The report commissioned by the A.G. also found that Kaufman ordered managers in the agency to tell employees not to review or model estimated emissions at some facilities across the state for pollutants contribute to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone. Kaufman will now serve as a deputy director in the state department of regulatory affairs.