Headlines Jan. 27, 2022
Headlines — January 27, 2022 Alexis Kenyon
Colorado Officials Confirm First Omicron Subvariant Case
Health officials confirmed Wednesday that they have found the first case of an Omicron subvariant in Colorado. Experts are calling BA.2 the “stealth variant” because, although it is genetically related to Omicron, it has different genetic mutations.
More than 40 countries have detected BA.2, including Denmark where it is currently spiking. Danish experts say BA. 2 may be more easily transmissible than Omicron. They report a similar number of hospitalizations with potentially more break-through cases.
Denver 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 those trends are similar in El Paso County.
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.
Emergency Alerts Failed To Alert 4 Out Of 5 People During Marshall Fire
Emergency alerts sent to Marshall Fire evacuees only reached one out of five people. This according to data released by the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office at the request of The Colorado Sun. Out of over 24,000 phone calls, texts and emails sent on Dec. 30, fewer than 5,000 people received the alerts. The data is based on whether people confirmed receiving the message by responding, such as pressing a number on their phone.
Officials acknowledge that the county’s emergency notification system did not reach everyone. Authorities say they also alerted people through social media posts and going door-to-door. The County expects to have a revamped system in place by spring.
Democratic Lawmakers Want More Protection For WhistleBlowers
State Democrats plan to introduce legislation later this week that extends whistleblower protections for Colorado workers beyond the current public health emergency law. The current law, passed in 2020, protects employees who raise concerns about workplace violations of health and safety during a declared public health emergency.
Democratic lawmakers say that the pandemic exposed many health and safety concerns that existed before Covid and will continue to exist after the declared emergency. The Denver Post reports that the new bill will help to prevent employers from discriminating or retaliating against workers for bringing up safety concerns even without a public health emergency. It will also allow employees to file related complaints to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
The 2020 bill passed mostly along party lines, with Republicans opposing it.
Xcel Energy Electrical Expansion To Avoid Historic Site
Xcel Energy has reversed its proposal to install electrical towers and power lines through a sacred Native American site. The move came after Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes told the energy provider that electrical lines would spoil the natural beauty of the area and infringe on The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, where, in 1864, Colorado soldiers killed hundreds of Native Americans.
Tribal leaders expressed satisfaction with Xcel’s response, saying the company listened to their concerns.
Environmental Groups Urge Feds To Block Oil Railway
More than one hundred environmental groups urged Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack to stop a proposed plan to build an oil train railway through Utah and Colorado. The Uinta Basin Railway would cut through a Utah National Forest and extend south to Gulf Coast refineries. Current daily oil extraction from the basin is eighty thousand barrels. The new railway would increase fossil fuel production to three hundred and fifty thousand barrels a day.
In a letter to Vilsack, environmentalists say the proposal goes against President Biden’s executive order to tackle climate change. They contend the railway would create 53 million tons of carbon pollution per year and say crude oil transportation would threaten wildlife habitats, pollute the Colorado River and potentially spark wildfires in drought-stricken areas.
Headlines — January 27, 2022 Alexis Kenyon