Headlines – December 3, 2021

Headlines December 3, 2021


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Health Officials Confirm First Case Of Omicron Variant In Colorado

The state health department confirmed the first case of the Omicron variant in Colorado yesterday. Health officials detected the variant in an Arapahoe County resident who recently toured countries in southern Africa. 

The patient has minor symptoms and is self-isolating at home. The woman’s close contacts have all tested negative so far. The patient is fully vaccinated but had not received a booster. The state’s epidemiologist said during yesterday’s news conference the woman flew back late last week and tested positive a day after she arrived. Health officials flagged the woman’s COVID-19 test because of her recent travel history. 

The Omicron variant has also been detected in California and Minnesota.

Longmont United Hospital Nurses Rally To Support Unionizing

Dozens of nurses and community members rallied outside of the Longmont United Hospital yesterday to support the unionization effort of the hospital’s nursing staff. 

The nurses voted to unionize with National Nurses United over the summer, but the outcome of the vote has not been certified. Centura Health is challenging a handful of unopened ballots.

Meanwhile, nurses say they are struggling with unsustainable workloads and high turnover. Nurses at the rally, say around one-third of their peers have quit working at the hospital since the summer.

Aurora Firefighter Union Seeks Court Intervention On Police-Fire Reform Consent Decree

The Aurora Firefighters Union 1290 is asking a judge to intervene in the police-fire reform consent decree.

The union feels they were wrongly and purposely excluded from negotiations in a recent agreement between the city of Aurora and state Attorney General’s office.

The Sentinel reports that the consent decree outlines amendments to the city’s current policing practices surrounding training, stops and use of force. The agreement has officially been filed in Arapahoe County District Court.

The consent decree came after the September indictments of three Aurora police officers and two Aurora fire paramedics in the Elijah McClain case.

City Council members said they think the negotiation was an operation of the department and since they had a 60 day window to negotiate the agreement, they did not bring in the fire or police unions for the negotiations.

In a statement, Local 1290 said they strongly endorse ways to improve Aurora Fire Rescue, but want to protect member’s rights and jobs security.

The agreement has stipulations that Aurora fire officials would have to follow if they continued using ketamine in the city. Aurora fire paramedics ceased using the powerful sedative in September 2020, after the controversial death of McClain in 2019.

Federal Government Gives Colorado $121 Million For Water Projects

Colorado will receive over $121 million for critical wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects in 2022. The administrator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced water project funding yesterday for states, tribes, and territories through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

According to the agency’s press release, funding will target the nation’s aging water infrastructure and will address disproportionate environmental burdens in historically underserved communities throughout the country. Nearly half of the funding will be available as grants and principal forgiveness loans to remove investment barriers for essential water infrastructure. 

Dolly Parton’s Free Book Program Expands In Colorado

Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced the statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library on Tuesday. The program sends free books once a month to children from birth to age 5. Entertainment icon Dolly Parton started the Imagination Library program through the Dollywood Foundation in 1995. 

According to the Governor’s press release, 4 percent of eligible children in Colorado are receiving books through existing community-based programs and the goal of the program’s expansion is to make books available for children age 5 and under in every zip code in the state. 

Ouray County Open Space Preserve Receives Dark Sky Designation 

Top of the Pines, a popular Ouray County recreational area and wedding venue south of Ridgway, has earned the designation of an International Dark Sky Park. According to the Ouray County Plaindealer, the designation requirements involve monitoring light pollution, complying with dark skies best practices and educating the public about dark skies preservation. Ouray County has one of the darkest skies in Colorado. Top of the Pines sits at an elevation of 8,650 feet. It is the second Ouray County location to receive the designation after The Town of Ridgway, Colorado.