Headlines April 6, 2020

Headlines April 6, 2020

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    Headlines April 6, 2020 KGNU News

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On Sunday, Colorado health officials finalized guidelines for who should receive care – including ventilators – if a surge of coronavirus patients overwhelms hospitals.

The guidelines provide that triage teams with four-members would make decisions. The triage teams would comprise an ethics or palliative care expert; a critical care doctor; a nurse; and a hospital leader. Those teams would not include a patient’s immediate medical caregivers.

The Denver Post reports that the teams will rank patients based upon a combination of the severity of their symptoms, any chronic illness and how long they’re likely to survive.

If some patients rank equally then care would be prioritized for children, health care workers and first responders. Then the teams would weigh whether patients were pregnant or sole caregivers – and how many years of life could be saved.

Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Director of the state Department of Public Health and Environment, said that they hope they don’t have to use the crisis-of-care standards.  But she added that COVID–19 has been spreading quickly and it could overwhelm the hospital system and intensive care units.

Yesterday, state officials also made public the projections of infections, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus that have been given to the governor.  The projections vary significantly.  If people don’t engage in physical distancing, there could be as many as 33,000 deaths by June 1st, but alternatively, fatalities could reach less than 400 by that date should social distancing be maintained.

Infections range from a high of nearly a million by May 7th, or a low of about 40,000 by November.

Officials said that they are using the projections to guide their decision making.  The team making the projections includes experts from the CU School of Medicine, CU Boulder and Denver.

As of Sunday, the coronavirus had claimed the lives of 140 people in the state, about three times that of about a week ago.

Nearly 5,000 people had been confirmed to have the disease, but health officials estimate 4 to ten times that amount have been infected.  As of Sunday, more than 900 have been hospitalized.

In Boulder County, officials said yesterday that a fourth person had died due to complications from the virus, and the total number of cases in the county is now 160. 75 people in Boulder County who tested positive have recovered.

Boulder County officials also are supporting the Governor’s call for all Coloradoans to wear non-medical face masks when leaving homes for essential business.

They stressed that wearing a mask is not a replacement for staying home and continuing to stay six feet away from others.

Aurora city council members will meet virtually on Monday to discuss a resolution that would urge detention centers to implement policies to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Aurora Sentinel reports that the proposed measure would encourage detention facilities to publicly disclose how many cases have been confirmed in a facility.  It would also encourage the authorities to examine people for symptoms before entering, and increase the number and length of telephone and video visitations.  Families of inmates would have to be informed about actions like quarantines.

The resolution would be aimed at the Immigration and customs enforcement detention facility in Aurora and local jails.

The council’s consideration of the resolution comes after a protest was held at the immigration detention facility in Aurora on Friday.

Dozens of cars outfitted in signs and messages about freeing detained immigrants circled the center. One sign on a car read “I want my dad free and healthy” and another said FREE THEM NOW.  The group known as ABOLISH ICE said in a release that their actions would escalate until every person in the detention center is released.

On Friday, Colorado criminal defense attorneys filed a petition with the State Supreme Court asking it to intervene and create standard rules aimed at decreasing the number of people locked up, and preventing the spread of the virus in courts.  The petition describes conditions in jails saying that vomiting inmates are preparing food for hundreds; jail phones have not been sanitized after each use; and deputies are not changing protective gloves as they interact with dozens of people.

The Denver Post reports that the petition was file two days after an El Paso County sheriff deputy at the jail died from the virus.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme court has suspended many court operations but left it to each of the states 22 judicial districts to make their own decisions on how to address the virus; his order did not address the jails.  The high court could reject the petition or decide to consider it.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office said that backers of a proposal to ban abortions at 22 weeks had failed to collect enough signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.

The Denver Post reports that the group behind the initiative has an additional 15 days to collect signatures once a statewide shelter-in-place order is lifted.  A judge’s decision issued last week granted the added time.

The number of petitions turned in by the group was about 10,000 less than required.

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Speaking this afternoon Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director of the state’s health department reiterated Governor Polis’s advice from Friday that everybody should wear non-medical masks when out in public.

There are more than 5,100 cases in Colorado, 976 people have been hospitalized and 148 people have died.

But public health officials estimate that between 17 and 18 thousand people in Colorado actually have COVID-19.

Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist says that the social distancing measures enacted statewide have led to a slowing in the spread of transmission. Right now it is estimated that the number of cases is doubling every 6 days.

Earlier today State and city elected officials and homeless service providers in Denver called for urgent and robust action by the state in regard to providing services for those experiencing homelessness during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Speaking to reporters earlier today Denver city council member Robin Kniech says the current situation in Denver needs state assistance.

“This is a state challenge. It requires a level of resources beyond what we as a city can do alone. It requires the resources of our state government.”

Brad Meuli, President and CEO of the Denver Rescue Mission, says that it is impossible to apply social distancing rules with the current services.

“Shelters are made to get in as many people as possible. But we live in a different world today. The most vulnerable, the poor, the homeless are not able to socially distance like the rest of the world is able to enjoy or to be a part of right now.”

John Parvensky of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless says the state needs to respond in several ways including utilizing the National Guard to support the work of the homeless service providers, using hotels and motels for housing those who need to be isolated and creating auxiliary shelters to deal with the crisis.

“We need both to have those shelters open, to activate another location, to be able to provide adequate social distancing with support from the National Guard to make it happen. And we need to have isolation rooms like the hotels and motels to be able to take people who are in the hospital who are homeless.”

You can find all our coverage of the COVID 19  crisis as well as information and resources at kgnu.org Tune in this evening at 6.30pm when we’ll bring you Governor Jared Polis and his live address to the state, that’s live on KGNU this evening at 6.30.

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