Headlines — December 21, 2021

Headlines December 21, 2021


[Download Audio]

Omicron Now Dominant Nationwide, Denver Confirms Two Cases

The Omicron variant is now the dominant coronavirus variant in the United States according to federal data released yesterday. The variant accounted for 73% of the new infections last week, marking a six-fold increase in its share of infections in only one week.

Meanwhile, state health officials confirmed two cases of Omicron infections for the first time in Denver Monday. Both individuals are vaccinated, one of them with a booster.  Hospital capacity remains tight with about 94% of acute care beds in use. State health department data shows 84 percent of those hospitalized currently are unvaccinated.

The Denver Post reports hospitals are dealing with more non-COVID patients than they had during last fall’s COVID-19 surge. Staffing shortages are also limiting hospital bed capacity.

COVID-19 Outbreaks Force Indoor Events Cancellations

The Denver Post also reports COVID-19 outbreaks have caused a wave of event cancellations for indoor public events in Colorado.

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts will make an announcement today about future performances of The Lion King as the company experienced breakthrough COVID-19 cases over the weekend. Negative PCR testing allowed the company to proceed with yesterday’s matinee performance, but officials canceled the pair of performances scheduled for today.

Coronavirus infections are also impacting sporting events as the NBA canceled a Denver Nuggets game on Sunday as the visiting Brooklyn Nets reported breakthrough infections. The Colorado Avalanche postponed four games last week as five players were in COVID-19 protocol.

Prior to an uptick of cancellations and postponements over the weekend, event promoters canceled performances earlier in the month at area venues such as the Newman Center, Bluebird Theater, and Mission Ballroom.

Governor Appoints Ken Montera as 5th District CU Regent

Gov. Jared Polis named Montera to represent the 5th Congressional District, which includes Colorado Springs. He will replace Chance Hill, who resigned his seat last month for career opportunities outside the state. The Denver Gazette reports that Hill was in the middle of a six-year term that would have expired in 2025. Montera will serve the unpaid post until the Nov. 8, 2022 election. The winner of that race will serve out the remaining two years of the term.

Polis said he selected Montera, who had been endorsed by the Republican Party’s 5th Congressional District assembly, because he felt Montera would cut costs and waste and would work to made higher education affordable. Montera is an alumnus of the University of Colorado Boulder. He received a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the Leeds School of Business.

Montera said he plans to seek election to the seat next November. He said one of his first priorities would be to help make attending one of the Colorado University schools more affordable, noting that the cost now has become too high for many in the state to afford.

Longmont City Council Approves Purchase of Adam Farm Property

The Longmont City Council unanimously approved last evening the purchase of the 130 acre Adam Farm property. The purchase will extend the city’s open space and trail network and will include six shares from the Oligarchy Ditch Company.

The property, located southeast of Union Reservoir and west of the St. Vrain State Park, will cost the city $5.5 million with Boulder County potentially reducing the city’s cost by acquiring a conservation easement over the property for $2 million.

Longmont began negotiations with the Adam Family for the property in 2019. Along with open space and watershed corridor protection, the city plans on developing a trail system between Union Reservoir, St. Vrain State Park, and the St. Vrain Greenway.

Denver City Council Approves 20 MPH Neighborhood Street Speed Limit

The Denver City Council approved a speed reduction to the city’s neighborhood streets on Monday evening. The ordinance, which will go into effect as soon as Mayor Michael Hancock signs it, will reduce the default speed limit of the city’s neighborhood streets to 20 mph from 25 mph. The city council vote comes in response to a rise in traffic deaths this year and council members urging a cultural shift to slow down.

City leaders began the “20 is Plenty” campaign more than a year ago by amending the city’s budget to include a $350,000 feasibility study to examine speed limit reductions for all types of city streets. The change comes with a possible $1.5 million price tag as the city will need to change thousands of signs across the city with the work taking three to five years to complete.

FBI Denver Division Warns About Phone Scammers

Officials with the FBI Denver Division are warning Colorado and Wyoming residents about a phone scam in which imposters pose as law enforcement officials asking for payments for outstanding warrants or fines.

According to the FBI, the scammers use spoof law enforcement phone numbers, names of actual officers, and mostly target women with lucrative careers and an online presence.