Headlines — January 25, 2022

Headlines Jan. 25, 2022

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COVID Cases Appear To Be Declining in the State 

Health officials are reporting some encouraging signs about cases of the Omicron variant. Numbers of infections in the area are declining after possibly hitting a peak. 

 In Denver, infections dropped to 30 percent of those tested–a steady decrease since mid-January. The Denver Gazette reports that those trends are similar in El Paso County to the south of the metro area.   

According to officials at Centura and UC Health, the pressure on hospitals also appears to be easing, but the number of people testing positive remains higher than during any other surge. According to a UC Health spokesperson, the number of patients continues to be higher than this time last year. Boulder County officials also report that new cases have declined as of Monday.

 In the meantime, a statewide program has distributed 1.7 million KN95 and surgical-grade masks to almost 400 locations across Colorado. 

Children’s Museum Closes Temporarily Due To Non-Maskers

The Children’s Museum of Denver is closed until early February because of what it characterizes as angry outbursts by visitors refusing to wear masks. The organization said the closure supports their staff and museum policies and will hopefully prevent the behavior in the future.  

Air Quality In Burn Areas Similar To Non-Burn Urban Locations 

A local study determined that air quality in the Marshall Fire burn areas is comparable to ordinary urban air pollution.

Smoke from burning homes and vehicles can produce unhealthy gasses. However, The Daily Camera reports that research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at burn sites similar to those found in and around urban environm1ents.  

NOAA used a mobile van to test outdoor air in various areas for up to two weeks after the fire.  Contaminant levels are expected to decrease in the coming weeks. For now, snow and moisture may be keeping potentially harmful VOCs out of the air and on the ground.   

 

Officials recommend that residents returning to their homes in the burn areas should monitor their indoor air quality. Boulder County is urging residents to get HVAC ducts professionally cleaned, and to replace filters as soon as they appear soiled. The County also suggests limiting outdoor activities and wearing an N95 mask in burn areas on windy days.

Air Quality In Boulder Valley Schools Improves 

The air quality of Boulder Valley schools has improved since efforts began five years ago to address concerns prompted by Casey Middle School. The Daily Camera reports that the school board received an update Tuesday regarding recent data.

Carbon dioxide levels improved by almost 45 percent. More than 90 percent of classrooms sampled had temperatures in acceptable levels. And cleaning desktops with green products led to better results. 

District officials say that these efforts benefited their response to air quality during the pandemic. Schools are also working now with Boulder County Public Health to monitor outdoor air quality in areas affected by the Marshall Fire. A final air quality report is planned for next year.

Boulder County DA Criticizes Governor’s Involvement In Truck Driver’s Sentencing

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty criticized Colorado Governor Jared Polis for his intervention in the sentencing of a truck driver who crashed his vehicle on I-70, killing four people and injuring many others. Dougherty and Mesa County DA Dan Rubenstein wrote a letter to Polis expressing concerns about the process, timing and manner in which the governor commuted the sentence of Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. 

9News reports that the truck driver had been given a required 110 years in prison based on state sentencing laws; however, Governor Polis commuted the sentence to ten years, just two weeks before the judge was set to consider reducing it.

In their letter, Dougherty and Rubenstein stated that the sentence was far too low for someone who chose to drive in a reckless manner that resulted in four deaths. They added that the Polis’ involvement in a pending case undermines the integrity and confidence that Coloradans put in the justice system.    

The district attorneys added that the governor’s action had affected another case. The defense lawyer in an unrelated, sexual assault case of a child is calling the defendant’s eight-year plea bargain excessive compared with the truck driver’s commutation.   

Anti-Semitic Flyers Distributed In Denver and Arvada

Police are investigating the distribution of anti-Semitic flyers in parts of Denver and Arvada last weekend. The Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region says the flyers contain various messages, including that COVID is a Jewish agenda. According to the ADL, anti-vaccine and white supremacist-related propaganda was also distributed.

The Denver Post reports that in Arvada, authorities received over two dozen reports about the flyers, which were placed on driveways overnight Saturday. In Denver, residents of the Country Club neighborhood also reported the flyers to police. The Denver Police Department’s Bias Motivated Crime Unit is investigating the situation.

The disturbing news comes just a week after hostages were held at gunpoint in a synagogue in Texas. The ADL says it’s important to expose hateful activity and to shine a light on the increase in anti-Semitism in Colorado and across the country. Sixty anti-Semitic incidents were reported to the ADL in Colorado in 2020, making it the second highest number of reports in the last 10 years.