Headlines May 11, 2020

Headlines May 11, 2020

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    Headlines May 11, 2020 KGNU News

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Speaking today, Governor Jared Polis said that there are nearly 20,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Colorado, but he said the actual number of positive cases is likely to be several times that number. 987 people have died of COVID-19 so far in the state.

Governor Polis said that public health officials are looking at the data for the last 2 weeks, since the state transitioned into the safer-at-home phase.
He said that they are seeing a decrease in the growth of diagnosed cases and a decrease in the number of hospitalizations.

The daily growth rate in Colorado is 0.9% daily growth rate, that’s the first time Colorado has been below 1% growth. Daily hospitalizations are down to 0.1% growth.

Approximately 1 in 10 people who contract the virus will need hospitalization.

Some updates were made today regarding the opening of certain facilities in the state.

Camping can resume in state parks, unless host counties don’t want it. Governor Polis said that camping is a safe activity with campsites set several feet apart. Campers are being accepted by reservation only at Cpwshop.com.

 

Governor Polis called out those who have not been adhering to the social distancing guidelines and particularly businesses that have broken the law in opening their establishments. On Sunday, C & C Coffee and Kitchen garnered national attention when it opened for dine-in services, attracting crowds of people into the restaurant. The Denver Post reports that today The Tri-County Health Department ordered the Castle Rock restaurant to close until it complies with the statewide COVID-19 public health order limiting restaurants to take out and delivery services.

A statement from the Health Department said that “If the restaurant refuses to follow Governor Jared Polis’ public health order, further legal action will be taken that could include revocation of the restaurant’s license.”

 

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A group of Democratic state lawmakers are intent on introducing a bill that would bring relief to people whose housing status is threatened by unemployment or lost wages during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Denver Post reports that it does not look like the legislature will enact any kind of freeze on rent or mortgage payments.

On May 1st Governor Jared Polis placed a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during through the month. His action included a prohibition on landlords and lenders charging late fees. However, there is no certainty about any relief for tenants and homeowners after May.

There are lawmakers who would like to see a freeze, but four of them, including House Speaker K.C. Becker, Democrat of Boulder, confirmed that it does not appear they believe the legislature has the power to do so.

State Representative Steve Woodrow, a Democrat from Denver, said that about 10 legislators are looking at other solutions such as enacting some of Gov. Polis’s orders into law for longer terms.

The state legislature has not been in session for about a month, and now it is scheduled to resume on May 26th. The General Assembly was set to come back in a week, but Democratic leadership announced the extension of the suspension on Saturday.

The Colorado Sun reports that when they return, lawmakers will face many issues including balancing the state budget while revenues have been dramatically reduced from the economic effects of the pandemic. The legislature must pass a budget by July 1st when the next fiscal year begins.

Meanwhile, in Boulder County, the sheriff’s office is expecting that a backlog of landlords seeking evictions could flood the system when the moratorium expires.

Sheriff’s Commander Jim Chamberlin told the Daily Camera that they had numerous evictions scheduled when the moratorium went into effect. Those were put off, and will come back onto the books.

He said that the office gets calls from landlords and tenants almost daily. When court proceedings start back up, the Sheriff’s Office will try to double the number of officers in the unit that handles evictions.

Bruce Wiener, of the non-profit Bridge to Justice which represents tenants, said that, once the stay is lifted landlords are going to flood the courts with evictions.

Governor Polis is scheduled to go to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Trump on Wednesday. The Denver Post reports that the meeting is part of the governor’s efforts to seek federal support for the state’s pandemic response including additional testing supplies and personal protective equipment.

Polis has repeatedly called on the White House for assistance to ramp up the state’s response. The governor has been critical of the lack of testing capacity and accused the Federal Emergency Management Agency of swooping in to buy ventilators his office had been trying to purchase, although a FEMA spokesperson denied that allegation.

Polis also has asserted his authority over local facilities, saying on Friday that the state can shut down meatpacking plants where there are outbreaks of the virus even after an order by Trump requiring that they stay open. The governor said that he wouldn’t let the President’s order put Colorado workers’ health at risk.

The Colorado Sun reports that after reviewing Trump’s order, Polis said he believes he has the ability to regulate the places where animals are slaughtered and prepared for sale. The governor was specifically referring to the JBS plant in Greeley where an outbreak of coronavirus has sickened 280 workers and killed at least 7.

On Sunday, Governor Polis’s office said that the opening of a restaurant in Castle Rock was illegal and dangerous.

The restaurant, called C & C Coffee and Kitchen, fully opened on Mother’s Day in spite of the governor’s order that such places are still closed. A video and photos of the crowd inside attracted national attention and shows few people wearing masks or engaging in social distancing.

A twitter account for the restaurant declared that it was reopening to stand for America, small business, the Constitution and against the overreach of the governor in Colorado. Authorities have said that restaurants could have their licenses revoked for violating the governor’s order.

More than a dozen legal and advocacy organizations are urging Governor Polis to substantially reduce prison populations before they become the epicenter of another COVID-19 outbreak. In a letter dated May 8, the organizations including the ACLU of Colorado and the Lawyer’s Civil Rights Commission, among others, said that, much like nursing homes incarcerated people are disproportionately likely to have serious medical conditions that make them vulnerable.

Colorado Politics reports that in the last month the Department of Corrections has released about 1,200 inmates, but nearly 18,500 remain.

The letter calls for the governor to commute sentences of certain prisoners aged 55 or older who do not pose a clear risk to the community and have underlying conditions.

They are also calling for a moratorium on new prisoner admissions for non-violent crimes and to speed up parole for those near their eligibility or release dates.

A coalition of Denver service providers are ready to open a temporary safe site for up to 100 homeless individuals even though the city administration has not responded to their plan.

Westword reports that the site would have bathrooms, sinks and even COVID-19 testing. The site would be an alternative to the large shelters at the National Western Center and the Denver Coliseum.

The coalition has been waiting for an answer from Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration since they presented it April 23rd. The coalition had sought financial assistance from the city, but now they say they have enough commitments from donors to fund the entire venture. They have also identified a safe space and are in conversations with landowners.

The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, the Colorado Village Collaborative are among the members of the coalition.

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