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BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER In a news conference on March 27 that sounded like a college class in sci...
Many local restaurants amping up takeout/delivery services in response to mandated shut down. – As coron...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER On March 27, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Econ...
BY KATHY TURLEYCITY OF CENTENNIAL CITY COUNCIL MEMBER Passed 60? Passed 70? How about close to 80? How many of...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER On March 23, with the stroke of a pen, Governor Jared Polis ended an era...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Executive Order D 2020 017 by Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued on Mar...
On March 20, 2020, Governor Polis signed an Executive Order granting County Treasurers the authority to waive...
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BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
In a news conference on March 27 that sounded like a college class in science and statistics, Governor Jared Polis used results gained from data modeling to emphasize the importance of compliance with the basic instruction of his executive order to stay at home as much as possible.
The number of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus pandemic in Colorado as of March 28 was 2,061, although the governor emphasized that the real number of cases is several times higher, given the number of infected Coloradans who haven’t been tested and/or haven’t yet showed symptoms. Pandemic is used to describe a disease that is seen worldwide and affects large numbers of people. The World Health Organization began using that term for COVID-19 (meaning a Coronavirus that first appeared in 2019) on March 11 when it had spread across six continents and more than 100 countries.
Polis emphasized how the actions that the state has taken reduce the number of other people to whom the virus is spread by each infected person in Colorado. Based on epidemiological data, every infected person in our state, if we lived normal connected lives, could be expected to infect three to four more people. The extrapolation of those numbers would be catastrophic. That is why schools are closed, restaurants and bars are closed, stores are closed, offices are closed, work force reductions are in place for critical businesses, and people who come in contact with others in any setting are strongly encouraged to stay at least six feet apart, the distance that droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel. It is through these actions that the number of people that an infected person can spread the virus to is reduced. By the numbers, eliminating gatherings in schools, restaurants, bars, and other public venues reduces the spread by 40 to 60 percent. Staying at home reduces it by 80 percent.
The other information Governor Polis shared was about how serious cases of COVID-19 show up in our health care system, which also explains the quarantine time of 14 days for a person who knows or suspects they have been in contact with someone who is infected. The average lag factor from exposure to symptoms is four to five days, although some people have minor or no symptoms. The majority of those infected get better without medical treatment, but for those who get seriously ill, the lag time from the spread of the infection to arrival at a hospital emergency department is 12 to 15 days. For the sickest, the lag time from the onset of symptoms to intensive care unit (ICU) admission is 10 to 12 days. Thus, for that group the lag time from exposure to ICU admission is 14 to 17 days, followed by an average length of stay in the ICU of seven to eight days, a total of 21 to 25 days.
Focusing on resources, the governor said that our state currently has 1,849 ICU beds. Estimates are that half will be available for COVID-19 patients under the current statewide policy of deferring elective procedures and stepping down to lower level wherever possible. The other half are expected to be needed by patients who fall victim to heart attack, stroke, emergency appendicitis, etc. The goal, according to Polis, is to add 1,000 additional ICU beds by May and 5,000 additional ICU beds this summer. On the number of ventilators, the governor said we have 900 and we need 7,000. His goal “is to marshal the resources we need to prepare for the worse care scenario and hope we can prevent it.”
Polis delivered the news that, “The virus will not be gone from our state in weeks.” He described success this way: “It’s that our hospitals have the ability to treat the sick and save lives. It means that we have planned for surge possibilities and have the equipment and staff we need to be able to return to work, to productivity, and to normal functioning.”
Ultimately, he said, “The key to success is the South Korea model, widespread testing. South Korea has a largely functioning economy at this point,” noting that Colorado has one of the highest testing rates of any state. The turnaround time for test results needs to be shortened, all agree.
On the current executive order he issued which remains in effect through April 11 unless rescinded or modified, Polis said,” these aren’t Republican or Democratic decisions. People need to stay at home unless they absolutely need to go out.” He noted the positive impact to our state of just one facet of the recently passed $2.2 trillion economic aid bill in Washington, saying “The federal government is helping with the $1,200 payments (for all adults who earn under $99,000) and $500 per dependent child. It is a very important step to prevent a longer-term disruption to our economy and our way of life. We’re grateful that the federal government came together.” He expressed appreciation to President Trump, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner for getting the aid bill passed quickly.
Many local restaurants amping up takeout/delivery services in response to mandated shut down. –
As coronavirus precautions continue to tighten their grip on daily living in Colorado, Metro Denver residents can still enjoy many of their favorite local eateries that are offering convenient, safe takeout and home or curbside delivery services for food and alcohol. VISIT DENVER, Boulder Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, Eat Denver and the Colorado Restaurant Association have collaborated to create ToGoDenver.com, a free resource for Denver and Boulder restaurants that remain open for takeout and/or delivery service during the current dine-in shut down.
Statewide mandated dine-in closures, issued to curb the spread of the coronavirus, have left local restaurants scrambling to stay afloat and keep their staff employed. ToGoDenver.comoffers local restaurants free registration to list their current home or curbside delivery and takeout services available. Restaurant seekers can search listings by restaurant name, by neighborhood or by cuisine.
“This crisis is creating immense hardship for our local hospitality community, but this new resource gives us all an opportunity to do our part in supporting our local restaurants that have made Denver and Boulder among the finest culinary scenes in the country,” said Richard W. Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER. “Our hope is that ToGoDenver.com will help fill an urgent need to aid local restaurants as they struggle to remain in businesses through these difficult times.”
VISIT DENVER, which also hosts the annual Denver Restaurant Week, has created an easy portal for restaurants to upload their information.
On March 27, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. It is a $2.2 trillion aid package, nearly half the amount of all federal spending in a normal year, outlined in an 880-page bill assembled in six days. It is difficult to imagine how so large a blueprint could contain the careful planning and thought process that citizens expect of any normal budget for a federal program, but we are in an emergency, medical and economical, so the saying, “desperate times call for desperate measures,” would seem to apply.
According to the Wall Street Journal, $1.9 trillion of the total funding provided in the CARES Act is split evenly between loans and direct grants, though some loans won’t have to be repaid under certain circumstances, including keeping employees in their jobs instead of furloughing them.
There is $260 billion for unemployment insurance claims, 3.283 million of which poured in from around the country during the week ended March 21, according to the United States Department of Labor. In Colorado, 61,000 applications for unemployment insurance were filed between March 23 and 26, compared to 25,000 between March 16 and March 20.
Unemployment insurance benefits will be extended with this money from the 26 weeks provided by states like Colorado, to 39 weeks. It will also be used to add $600 per week for four months to whatever amount the recipient is entitled to get from the state. The plan covers expanded categories of out-of-work individuals, including those who are “self-employed, seeking part-time employment, do not have sufficient work history, or otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment or extended benefits under state or federal law.” The period covered by the unemployment compensation assistance is January 27, 2020 to December 31, 2020.
According to cbsnews.com and other sources, the CARES Act contains $290 billion for direct one-time payments to individuals. In a few short weeks, most Americans will receive $1,200 per adult earning up to $75,000, with those amounts doubled for couples, and an additional $500 for each dependent child in a family. People who earn $75,000 to $99,000 will receive a lesser amount. There is no cash benefit provided for those individuals who earn over $99,000 or couples who earn at least $198,000. The income limits are based on “adjusted gross income” shown on Americans’ 2019 income tax returns if they have been filed. Otherwise, 2018 tax returns can be used to demonstrate eligibility. If no income tax return has been filed for 2018 or 2019, even if the reason is that the individual didn’t earn enough money to need to file a tax return, it will be more complicated to get these payments. Most people receiving social security retirement and disability payments are eligible for these payments. Those whose 2019 or 2018 income-tax refunds were sent directly to their bank accounts will receive the money more quickly than those whose refunds come as a check in the mail.
Direct payments of $150 billion to state and local governments for revenue lost due to the Coronavirus pandemic are another category included in the CARES Act. Allocations will be based on population, with a minimum of $1.25 billion going to each state. There is another $25 billion provided to states specifically for infrastructure grants. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that Colorado will receive $ 2.233 billion. Cities and counties in a state with populations over 500,000 are eligible to apply for and receive funds directly, instead of via an allocation from the state. In Colorado, the local jurisdictions that meet that population requirement are the City and County of Denver, along with El Paso, Jefferson, and Arapahoe counties. The maximum combined amount that all eligible localities can receive directly from the federal government is 45 percent of the total amount for which their state is eligible.
The CARES Act contains $367 billion allocated for loans and grants for small businesses for employee retention. If loans from this bucket of money are used for payroll, rent, mortgage or utility expenses, they may be forgiven.
Hospital and health centers are eligible for $130 billion in grants to expand their facilities and acquire necessary equipment and supplies to meet the health care needs of their communities. There is also $l6 billion earmarked specifically to create a stockpile of necessary medical equipment.
The largest bundle of money, $500 billion, is being set aside for larger industries, including $25 billion in loans and another $25 billion in grants to passenger airlines, along with $4 billion for carriers, $3 billion for aviation contractors, and $17 billion for “businesses critical to maintaining national security,” which is widely believed to be designed to support Boeing. There has been talk from the White House about the government acquiring equity in some companies, including Boeing, though Boeing CEO Bill Calhoun is reported to have ruled out the idea.
The bill also contains language stating that the United States Department of Education will suspend all payments due for federal student loans until September 30 without any penalty or interest accruing. That does not apply to private commercial loans used for education, which can only be deferred with permission of the private lender.
For purposes of congressional oversight, the CARES Act establishes a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) within the United State Treasury Department to conduct audits of loans to large businesses from the $500 billion set aside for that purpose. President Trump said when he signed the bill that “I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause,” a part of Article II in the U.S. Constitution that states that it is the responsibility of the President (not the Congress) to ensure “that the laws be faithfully executed.” That statement has been interpreted to convey the President’s belief that audit reports of the SIGPR will not be permitted to be made available to Congress without his approval. Trump also addressed a provision of the bill that conveys some congressional committee consultation for expenditures made by the State Department, Department of Veterans Affairs, and US Agency for International Development (USAID), saying, in a written statement, “These provisions are impermissible forms of congressional aggrandizement with respect to the execution of the laws.”
In a statement issued after the bill passed the United States Senate 96-0, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner said, “Coloradans and the American people need our help now more than ever and this bill delivers that relief. My office and I have been in constant conversation with Governor Polis, Colorado’s medical professionals, families, small business owners, and workers across every industry. The CARES Act provides approximately $2 trillion in direct economic relief and support for our frontline healthcare providers, assistance to help ensure businesses can afford to keep employees on staff and assurances that we will get through this together.” Gardner also announced that he, along with several members of the Colorado delegation, had “called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to quickly review the state’s application for a waiver to provide Colorado’s Medicaid program more flexibility to serve Coloradans during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
BY KATHY TURLEYCITY OF CENTENNIAL CITY COUNCIL MEMBER
Passed 60? Passed 70? How about close to 80? How many of you can claim that or identify a close friend or colleague that is in that category? Bet you never thought you would get to that point! Well, I didn’t and here’s my story!
For the past 6 years, my life has been the most rewarding, challenging, somewhat stressed and “thrilling beyond all expectations” adventure. Who would ever have thought a whole new journey would begin at the age of 70. I never did and I suppose it never occurred to those of us that wake up every morning and say “Hot damn! Another day! What are we going to do today that we didn’t do yesterday and who are we going to meet new today?” My day begins with a conversation with the guy who started it all, to get the spirit going! Then off to the gym with close friends to get the body going! After touching down with my husband of 48 years and adult children, who still think I’m in the kitchen fixing their meals, I’m off for the day’s activities. I check my Franklin Day Timer (it’s generational!) to follow through with my City Council responsibilities.
My extraordinary, not on my schedule, journey began 14 days ago! I became one of two Councilmen who became COVID 19 positive. I am now one of four in the City of Centennial. I am a survivor! However, there is not a minute that goes by that reminds me of this incredible journey. The dry cough that still lingers and the loss of smell and taste is a daily reminder that my normal routine of acting like I am 45 is a “wake up call” to the new norm! Stop and reflect, Kathy! Fourteen days ago I was literally running around Washington DC as if I owned the place: there’s work to be done, meetings to attend, problems to solve! “Mary Make a Difference” was my mantra! I was in my element! I was in my skin! Until, I got sick! Whoa! A Mack Truck is in my way! I flew home, knowing something was definitely wrong, immediately got tested and 4 days later received the call from Tri-County Health that I was positive.
Allow me to pause and give a special “shout-out” to my little, staff Epidemiologist at Tri-County Health. Because of her yeomen’s expertise and “deep dive”, thorough investigation, she was able to save many, many lives from getting this CORONA Virus. Together, for over an hour I gave her every possible name I could remember of whom I came into contact with in the past week. Kudos to my friend, the Epidemiologist! and while we’re on it…Kudos to the many “quiet giants” who, in their own spaces have been instrumental in the healing process, mine & yours! I could enumerate them starting with my Mayor, my City Manager, my City Attorney who keeps me honest, my fellow City Council Members, my extraordinary staff and IT staff that protects us from a Cyber Attack, my adopted daughter, the Communications Director, (Our ultimate Editor) and many, many more. All my thoughts and prayers go right back to you, my friends!
I am now out of isolation! I will never be completely exempt from this “once in a lifetime” experience. My morning conversation is richer in solitude and gratefulness of good health, graced with heartfelt petition for FULL RECOVERY for us all!
On March 23, with the stroke of a pen, Governor Jared Polis ended an era in Colorado’s history. Convicted criminals are no longer subject to the death penalty in Colorado for offenses charged on or after July 1, 2020. But that is only the formal application of the new law. With one exception, a cold-blooded killer executed in 1997 after brutalizing and killing Virginia May, it may as well have gone into effect 53 years ago. That’s the last time anyone besides May’s killer was put to death by law in the State of Colorado.
The change in the law was made after five previous attempts in recent years. It is not a coincidence that it happened during a legislative session in which Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office. It was a particularly wrenching decision for many legislators because the sons of two of their colleagues, Democrats Rep. Tom Sullivan and Sen. Rhonda Fields, were murdered in recent years. Fields’ son’s murderers were two of the three men who had been sentenced to death and were facing eventual execution before this bill passed.
Although the vote was mostly along party lines, Democrats Fields and Jessie Danielson from Jefferson County voting against repeal in the Senate. On the Republican side, Centennial Sen. Jack Tate, who is not seeking re-election, served as a prime sponsor of the bill. Voting with Tate in the Senate to repeal the death penalty were Republicans Kevin Priola from Adams County and El Paso County’s Owen Hill. In the House, all 24 Republicans and Democrats Kyle Mullica from Adams County and Brianna Titone from Jefferson County voted with Sullivan against repeal. The final vote totals were 19 to 13 in the Senate and 38 to 27 in the House.
Tate told The Villager “I was undecided last year (when a similar bill was introduced). Over the summer, I did a lot of reading and reflection, after which I concluded that the arguments in favor of repeal outweighed the ones against it. I believe we should promote public policies that make our communities safer and provide victims with the services they need; the death penalty fails to do those things while also risking innocent lives. My research informed me that it is an ineffective approach, and my philosophical stance is that the state should not have the power of life and death. The death penalty is not effective as a deterrent, it doesn’t serve victims’ families, and it doesn’t accomplish what people think in terms of justice, from a religious, moral, or equity point of view.”
After announcing he had signed the repeal bill on March 23, Governor Polis commuted the death sentences of the three people currently on death row to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Said Polis, “Commutations are typically granted to reflect evidence of extraordinary change in the offender. That is not why I am commuting these sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Rather, the commutations of these despicable and guilty individuals are consistent with the abolition of the death penalty in the State of Colorado, and consistent with the recognition that the death penalty cannot be, and never has been, administered equitably in the State of Colorado.”
George Brauchler, serving his twelfth and final year as 18th Judicial District Attorney, holds the opposite view. In a column he penned for the Denver Post on March 1, Brauchler promoted the idea of letting Colorado voters make this decision instead of the legislature. While citing inconclusive evidence about whether the death penalty serves as a deterrent, Brauchler proffered, “The paramount goal of sentencing is the imposition of justice. Sometimes, justice is dismissing a charge, granting a plea bargain, expunging a past conviction, seeking a prison sentence, or — in a very few cases, for the worst of the worst murderers — sometimes, justice is death.” He went on, “The repeal of the death penalty treats all murders as the same. Once a person commits a single act of murder, each additional murder is a freebie. That is not justice. “
Editor’s note: The Villager purposely did not mention the names of convicted murderers in this article.
Executive Order D 2020 017 by Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued on March 25 “ordering Coloradans to stay at home due to the presence of COVID-19 in the state,” took effect at 6:00 a.m. on March 26 and ends on April 11 “unless rescinded or modified.”
It directs “all Coloradans to stay at home, subject to limited exceptions such as obtaining food and other household necessities, going to and from work at critical businesses, seeking medical care, caring for dependents or pets, or caring for a vulnerable person in another location.” Details are left to be spelled out by the state Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) in connection with the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).
The health department order addresses the circumstances of individuals who have experienced symptoms of COVID-19 but are unable to get tested, saying they should self-isolate until symptoms cease, including no fever for 72 hours without medicine to reduce it and the passage of seven days since symptoms first appeared.
CDPHE and DORA issued directives that spelled out who could and could not operate in their traditional manner. All medical personnel, including mental health professionals, who are unable to deliver critically necessary services via telehealth may continue providing necessary services. Elective medical procedures are to be deferred.
Non-medical service providers who must cease operations include barbers, hair stylists, estheticians, dog groomers, residential house cleaners, and even dental hygienists. Non-medical service providers and practitioners who are allowed to continue operating include architects, accountants, banks, electricians, plumbers, child care services, laundromats, auto repair and rentals, animal boarding, news media, aerospace operations, and services related to financial markets. Retailers who may continue operations include grocery stores and all food and beverage stores, hardware stores, firearms stores, and sellers of products that support working from home. “Grocery stores including all food and beverage stores” includes liquor stores. All open businesses are required to maintain six-foot distances between individual employees and/or customers. The order from the state health department even contains penalty provisions, a fine of up to $1,000 and possible incarceration in county jail for up to a year for cited violations and convictions, though those are unexpected.
Houses of worship may remain open, but must keep all individuals at least six feet apart. Public and private schools, both K-12 and colleges and universities may be open for the provision of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, but also must observe social distancing requirement.
Personal physical examinations for the issuance of medical marijuana cards have been suspended until April 18, as has the prohibition on retail marijuana store online sales, so as to facilitate curbside pick-up of retail marijuana products by adults 21 years of age and older.
In the afternoon on March 23, before Governor Polis acted, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock initially ordered that retail store closures for all but essential items beginning on March 24 at 5:00 p.m., were to included liquor stores and recreational marijuana sellers. He rescinded that rule before the day was out after Denverites flocked to liquor and marijuana stores and lined up in droves to make purchases.
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