Headlines Dec. 22, 2021
Increase Of Omicron Variant Expected In Colorado
Colorado health officials are expecting to see another spike in COVID-19 cases as the Omicron sweeps across the nation. As of now, the Delta variant still accounts for most COVID-19 cases in Colorado.
At a news conference Tuesday, Dr. Rachel Herlihy of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said the percentage of tests coming back positive has increased. The fifth wave of infection during the pandemic, which peaked just before Thanksgiving, had been dropping with hospitalizations down to about 1,030 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Herlihy said cases are spiking in mountain communities that are popular with tourists and there’s some sign that spread may be increasing in the Denver area.
The state is opening new sites for testing and vaccinations along the Front Range, according to Gov. Jared Polis. On Tuesday, officials in Larimer County asked residents to test for the virus before going to holiday gatherings to reduce its spread.
Events canceled Because Of COVID-19
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts canceled more shows for the already long-delayed-run of “The Lion King.” It will be the tenth time the show has been canceled because of COVID-19.
The Denver Post reports officials canceled a men’s basketball game between CU Boulder and University of Kansas Tuesday evening, less than two hours before the game started. Reports say officials canceled the game after hearing COVID-19 related concerns from the CU team.
Jeffco DA Asks Court To Consider Reduction Of Truck Driver’s Sentence
The prosecutor of the truck driver who killed four people in a crash two years ago has started the process to reduce the 110-year prison sentence handed down to Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. Alexis King, the DA for the First Judicial District, announced on Tuesday that she had filed the documents last Friday.
The Denver Post reports the move is a complete reversal for King’s office, which filed and pursued the charges against Aguilera-Mederos.
The prison term sparked an online petition that has gathered over 4.5 million signatures and asks the governor for clemency. Judge Bruce Jones, who imposed the 110-year sentence last week, said that under the law he had no discretion and would have sentenced Aguilera-Mederos to a different prison term if he could have.
James Colgan, attorney for Aguilera-Mederos, told The Denver Post that the DA’s request is about “political survival,” and she is scrambling because “she’s feeling a lot of heat.” Colgan said that he has already submitted a request for clemency to the governor on behalf of his client.
Judge Jones has scheduled a hearing for Monday to discuss the DA’s request and whether it is premature. According to state law, a reduction in the sentence cannot be made until about 120 days have passed after Aguilera-Mederos enters prison.
Environmental Justice Task Force Meets For First Time
The first meeting of the state’s new Environmental Justice Action Task Force took place earlier this week. Westword reports the state created the task force during the last legislature session to find practical ways to address environmental justice inequality.
With members appointed by the legislature, tribal governments and the governor, the 27-member task force will bring together leaders from underrepresented communities across Colorado. One member is Ean Thomas Tafoya who is the state director of GreenLatinos. He told Westword he is proud that many individuals from his community are included.
BLM Asks For Nominations For Solar Development
The Bureau of Land Management announced Tuesday that it would accept nominations for development of solar energy zones in Colorado. According to The Associated Press, the BLM also approved two solar projects in California’s Riverside County — enough to generate power for about 130,00 homes.
The BLM proposed solar development zones under the Obama administration to open utility-scale energy projects on public lands in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Tuesday’s announcement is part of President Joe Biden’s effort to shift away from fossil fuels to counter climate change.
Aurora To Pay Each Police Officer An $8,000 Bonus
To keep officers, the Aurora City Council voted on Monday night to give bonuses of $8,000 to each police officer next year. Nearly 90 officers left the department last year.
The Sentinel reports the bonuses will not require an officer to stay with the Aurora police. City Council members voted along party lines to support the bonuses, which will amount to around $6 million out of the city’s federal pandemic relief funds.
Council members opposed to the bonuses argued they were unfair if they did not include city workers or firefighters. Supporters said the payments to police officers were a more pressing issue.