Headlines — November 23, 2022

November 23, 2022

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    Headlines — November 23, 2022 Stacie Johnson

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Public Defenders Say Club Q Suspect Is Nonbinary

Public defenders for the suspect accused of killing five people and wounding several others at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ nightclub indicate in court papers that the suspect is nonbinary and uses the pronouns they and them. The suspect is scheduled to appear at an advisement hearing today at the El Paso County District Court in Colorado Springs. The suspect’s appearance will be virtual from the El Paso County jail. The court papers, according to the Associated Press, did not elaborate on the suspect’s gender identification.

News details are emerging on the suspect’s background. According to media reports yesterday, the suspect’s grandparents, who were his legal guardians, petitioned a Texas court for a name change to protect the then 16-year-old suspect from a birth father with a criminal history. The name change petition, according to the Associated Press, was also within months of the suspect being the target of online bullying. The suspect is currently facing ten preliminary charges, including first-degree murder and committing a bias-motivated crime. Additional charges may be added, including assault and attempted murder.

The suspect was transferred from the hospital to the El Paso County Jail yesterday, according to Colorado Springs police. The suspect was treated after being tackled and beaten by nightclub patrons, who have been credited with preventing further loss of life.

Respiratory Viruses Including RSV Straining Colorado Hospitals

State health officials say the continued rise in respiratory syncytial virus, otherwise known as RSV, and other respiratory illnesses is straining the capacity of the state’s hospitals, especially those with pediatric-specific services such as Children’s Hospital of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

As of Monday, the state only had two pediatric ICU beds available. 

Officials from the state health department provided an update and presented data showing both hospitalized RSV and influenza cases are higher this week than in years past.

The chief medical officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado says his hospital is still operating at 100% full capacity along with long emergency room wait times. 

During Monday’s briefing by the state health department, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy gave a rundown of the trends caused by influenza, COVID-19, and RSV; what some are calling a “tripledemic.”. 

“We continue to see an increasing trend as far as influenza and COVID-19 go. For RSV, we also continue to see pretty high levels of circulation, including high levels of hospitalizations in our pediatric population.”

Health officials also remarked how age is a factor for impacts by the respiratory viruses. 

“We’re seeing the majority of hospitalizations from COVID-19 right now due to, due are occurring in adults. What we’re seeing with RSV is the vast majority of those hospitalizations are occurring in our pediatric population.“

State health officials also noted those hardest hit by RSV are infants under six months of age and that risk of hospitalization greatly diminishes after five years of age.

RTD To Reopen Aurora Section Of R Line Next Week

Regional Transportation District General Manager Debra Johnson told Aurora City Council Tuesday that the agency will reopen a four-mile segment of the light rail R Line next week once RTD meets regulatory and safety milestones. On September 21st, a RTD train derailed going around a curve in Aurora, resulting in the segment’s closure. The derailment caused injuries to three passengers and damage to a power pole. 

The segment, near Exposition Avenue and Sable Boulevard, has been problematic for RTD as a light rail operator in 2019 approached the same section too quickly, causing a similar derailment. 

The agency says RTD now has a corrective action plan approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, which includes more operator training and methods to slow the trains. 

Johnson told Aurora elected officials it would be up to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to release the report that investigated the causes of the September incident. 

Federal Wildlife Officials Declare Prairie Chicken A Threatened Species For Colorado

The lesser prairie chicken is joining the list of threatened species in Colorado, and the list of endangered species in states to the south. Federal wildlife officials say the decline of the lesser prairie chicken is a sign that native grasslands and prairies are in trouble. “Protecting the wild bird,” said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Amy Lueders, “can protect the environment, too.” 

Advocates say they’re relieved by the new designation, which reinstates a 2014 threatened species status. That was overturned after oil and gas industry lawsuits.

Critics of the reinstated designation say it means farmers and ranchers are losing more land use control. They argue that voluntary efforts to conserve land and protect the “lesser prairie chicken” habitat are working.

The lesser prairie chicken population has declined significantly. Scientists believe one reason for that is land development by agriculture, and the oil and gas industry. But Zach Riley, of the Colorado Livestock Association, says new protections for the bird are a case of environmental groups going after industries, using the Endangered Species Act.

While the lesser prairie chicken is now a threatened species in Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma, it will have a more restrictive endangered species listing in New Mexico and Texas.

Fort Collins Overflow Shelter Delays Opening Because Of Staffing Shortage

Staffing shortages are delaying the opening of the Fort Collins seasonal overflow shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness. According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, city officials expected the overflow shelter at 117 N. Mason St. would open on November 11th with its operation continuing through April. The city is partnering with the Fort Collins Rescue Mission to operate the additional bed shelter.

Seth Forwood, senior director of the Rescue Mission, told the Coloradoan that the organization still needs to find three employees to begin operations. Forwood also said they are unsure how they can open the shelter without the necessary staff. 

State Health Department Offering Environmental Grants To Nonprofits And Impacted Communities 

The state health department is offering grants to communities disproportionately affected by pollution as a way to defray costs for technical assistance used by the entities when they want a better say in rule-making hearings and permit proceedings. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the maximum grant allocation is $250,000 and the agency plans on awarding up to 10 grants in the spring. 

Interested communities and non-profits must submit an application by February 3rd. More information is available at the state health department’s web page titled “Environmental Justice Grants Program.” 

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    Headlines — November 23, 2022 Stacie Johnson

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Stacie Johnson

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