Headlines April 9, 2020

Headlines April 9, 2020

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    Headlines April 9, 2020 KGNU News

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Mayor Michael Hancock has joined dozens of mayors in calling on the federal government to improve distribution of personal protective equipment to municipalities to address the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Denverite reports that as of Tuesday, the city had run out of PPE equipment, including N-95 masks, surgical masks, gloves and face shields, to distribute to its employees and partnering groups.

Mayor Hancock spoke with reporters on Wednesday and said that the letter he co-signed calls on the federal authorities to create a “medical equipment czar” to oversee the national stockpile and distribution of supplies and to ramp-up production of PPE.

Yesterday the Boulder County Commissioners enacted level one fire restrictions for unincorporated areas of western Boulder County.

The recent warm and windy weather has heightened fire danger in many parts of Colorado.

According to a statement by the county yesterday, normal weather and fire conditions do not currently meet the state-authorized levels for law enforcement to enact such restrictions, however with firefighting and law enforcement resources stretched thin due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boulder County Commissioners and the Boulder County Sheriff are concerned that adding the potential for wildfires to our community stress load is more than the county can endure.

The fire restrictions mean open fires; campfires or stove fires are banned on public land.

Every evening at 8pm people across Denver are coming into their gardens or onto their balconies to howl at the moon and to show support for front line medical workers during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The idea emerged through two Denver residents who started a Facebook group “Go Outside and Howl at 8pm” and it’s similar to what’s happening in other cities and countries where people go outside to join with their neighbors at the same time every evening to clap, sing and cheer in honor of  the front line medical workers.

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Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order today extending Colorado’s disaster emergency declaration for an additional 30 days. The initial declaration, signed on March 11, was set to expire on Saturday, but now continues until early May. The extension gives the state access to more emergency funds in order to respond to the pandemic. The state has confirmed over 5,000 cases since March 5. 193 people have died.

In anticipation of more COVID-19 related infections and deaths, Colorado is repurposing buildings normally used for public events into makeshift hospitals. The Denver Post reports, the state health department is preparing for the state’s rate of new cases to peak in the coming weeks.

Officials are concerned that there are not currently enough hospital beds, ventilators or workers to manage the surge. The Army Corps of Engineers will begin construction on Friday to convert the Colorado Convention Center, and the Larimer County Fairgrounds in Loveland, for patients who no longer require critical care but can’t yet go home. The two facilities combined will hold about 3,000 patients.

In addition, three former medical facilities will be converted to provide care at a higher level than the convention center or the Larimer fairgrounds. These sites are St. Anthony North in Westminster, St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo, and Western Slope Memory Care in Grand Junction.  The state has also ordered ten refrigerator trucks to use as makeshift morgues, as upcoming COVID-19 deaths may overwhelm existing morgues.

Last week, FEMA denied Governor Jared Polis’ request for 500 ventilators, instead keeping them for the federal government.

Then, in what many are calling a politically partisan move, President Donald Trump granted 100 ventilators to the state, citing a request from Republican Senator Cory Gardner.

In a Zoom call with journalists today, Scott Bookman, Colorado’s incident commander for the pandemic, said that Colorado expects to add the ventilators to their inventory within the next 24 hours. Bookman said the state is not yet at ventilator use capacity, but he said the need for hospital beds and ventilators will continue to increase in the coming weeks. Personal protective equipment, or PPE, and other medical supplies are still in high demand across the state. Mike Willis, director of the state emergency operations center, says Colorado has spent about $50 million to obtain PPE and medical equipment, though Willis anticipates most of that expense will eventually be reimbursed through the CDC or other means.

You can find all our coverage of COVID-19 as well as resources and information online at news.kgnu.org.

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