Friday, July 10, 2020

Mayor Suthers notes COVID spike, warns a mask mandate might be coming

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2020 at 4:30 PM

Mayor Suthers wearing a mask in April. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
  • Mayor Suthers wearing a mask in April.
Colorado Springs is "losing ground" in its fight against the coronavirus, and a mandatory mask order might be necessary to stem the spread, Mayor John Suthers warned today, July 10, on his official Facebook page.

His message:
We are losing ground in our effort to fight COVID-19 based on numbers coming in over the last few days. This puts us at risk of losing our variances, which have allowed many businesses to re-open. While I’m reluctant to do a mask mandate because of obvious enforcement challenges, if it comes down to choosing between closing our businesses again, or putting a mask mandate in place, I would likely side with our local business community and enact a mandate to protect them. However, my hope is that people will see the urgency of this situation, and voluntarily wear a mask, so we can move to recovery and not put our City back. (Emphasis added.)
We wrote about the mask controversy in this week's Indy.

El Paso County logged 106 new cases on July 9, the highest total by far since the pandemic struck in February and March. The rolling seven-day average also shows cases have spiked.
EL PASO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH
  • El Paso County Public Health

Statewide, 345 cases were reported on July 8, which is less than half the 725 cases reported on April 25 but nevertheless is a spike after cases took a dive in late May and early June.

Here's the latest from Gov. Jared Polis in a release issued today, July 10:
Like most of the United States, Colorado has seen an upward trend in cases and hospitalizations over the past couple of weeks. The administration will continue monitoring the public health situation very closely and will adjust reopening strategies based on the trajectory of the spread of the virus. Last week, Governor Polis announced that bars — settings that are particularly vulnerable vectors for contagion — would remain closed for the time being. The state will continue to be guided by data and science as we all work together to manage this crisis.

While we are concerned with the recent uptick in cases, it’s worth noting that Colorado is nowhere close to reaching or breaching the state’s hospital ICU capacity, which has been our top concern all along. And despite the slight uptick in cases and hospitalizations, Colorado continues to perform better than the national average, and continues to be a positive outlier thanks to everyone doing their part:

Individuals are wearing masks, keeping distance, staying Safer at Home or in the Vast, Great Outdoors, protecting vulnerable populations, and practicing proper hygiene.

The state is working to get more PPE and testing supplies, and providing economic support for businesses and individuals including $250 million in state CLIMBER loans.

Our local governments are stepping up on mask ordinances, repurposing space to allow for more social distancing, and enhancing local public health agency capacity.

The business community is also doing the right thing — requiring masks for customers, being flexible when it comes to teleworking, and taking steps to protect employees and patrons.

As a result, Colorado’s small businesses are performing slightly better than national averages on key metrics, including making payments like rent, payroll, utilities, and loans, the number of employee hours worked, and number of employees retained. Colorado’s unemployment rate, while still persistently and unacceptably high, is three points lower than the national average.

The key to keeping our virus transmission levels down while increasing economic opportunity is to continue maintaining our status as a positive outlier among our neighboring states and throughout the country.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Air Force Academy seeks 220 double hotel rooms for cadets amid pandemic

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 5:31 PM

The Class of 2024 arrived at the Air Force Academy on June 25. Some have tested positive for the coronavirus. - CHRISTIAN MURDOCK
  • Christian Murdock
  • The Class of 2024 arrived at the Air Force Academy on June 25. Some have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Dealing with up to 100 cadets who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the Air Force Academy posted a solicitation for 220 hotel rooms to house healthy cadets while the campus dorms are used to spread out the sick into social distancing arrangements.

The officer training school has sought "220 double hotels room [sic] with a minimum of two (2) queen beds per room off base to house approximately 440 cadets for the 2020-2021 Academic Year."

The request for proposals (RFP) specifies the rooms would be rented from July 22, 2020, until July 21, 2021.

More from the solicitation:

In order to keep the cadets in close proximity to the base as well as close proximity to one another due to safety requirements and travel costs absorbed by the individual cadets, the goal is to have the 440 cadets reside in as few hotels as possible within a 10-mile vehicle commute radius of USAFA.

USAFA currently has a potential need to house some portion of the Cadet Wing off the installation in order to create swing space within the cadet dormitories. To support this requirement USAFA seeks to contract with multiple off base lodging facilities on a potential short and long-term basis. The contractor shall provide quality lodging and a secure facility that is within of [sic] 10-mile vehicle commute radius of USAFA (for safety and travel reasons) as measured from the USAFA Airfield.

The contractor shall furnish all resources (including, but not limited to, facilities, furniture, equipment, supplies and breakfast) and incidental services to provide lodging accommodations meeting normal commercial standards. Should the number of required rooms change during the period of performance, USAFA will be required to provide the contractor commercially standard notice for cancellation. 
Asked to comment, an Academy spokesperson declined, noting the pending RFP and contract.

However, the spokesperson says via email:
We are providing quarantine and ISO here at the Academy that necessitates creative thinking to housing cadets .... Also, as part of that creative thinking process, we would also like our local businesses to be a part of the creative solutions for the U.S. Air Force Academy. Our business community and community at large have always been very supportive of our institution and believe this is a chance to further solidify those relationships. This is not dissimilar to what the other Service Academies are doing.

Deadline to submit proposals was July 6. Read the solicitation here.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Illegal fireworks calls to CSPD spike

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 11:55 AM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
Bombs bursting in air aptly described neighborhoods across the city on 4th of July weekend, and the Colorado Springs Police Department has the numbers to prove it.

For some reason, Springs residents went wild with fireworks this year, despite fireworks being illegal.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department sent out notices days before July 4 emphasizing that fireworks are illegal to possess, sell and use within the city limits, but thousands of residents shot off firecrackers and aerial fireworks.

The loud bangs continued until well past 11 p.m., as reported on NextDoor and other social media.

CSFD's Michael Smaldino reports via email the department responded to eight calls for service in the 24 hours of July 4. Those included two structure fires in which fireworks were suspected, two grass fires, two smoke investigations, a vehicle fire caused by fireworks and one other fire.

For 30 years, he says, the city has made fireworks illegal, a message the city has conveyed via news releases, social media and on yard signs at fire stations stating, "Fireworks are illegal."

While the department will pursue charges against someone they identify has caused a fire with fireworks, this year the fire marshal issued only one summons in connection with a structure fire.

"As you can see, our calls for service concerning fireworks are relatively low for these 24 hours," he says. "Please remember, we will only respond if there is damage or injury."

Smaldino referred the Indy to the Colorado Springs Police Department for call information. That data shows that fireworks calls doubled in May from last year, increased nearly five-fold in June compared to June 2019, and showed sizable increases in July and on July 4 from the previous year.

Officers were dispatched at a greater pace as well.

fireworks.png

CSPD spokesperson Natashia Kerr tells the Indy that citations are still being entered into the system, so a total is not yet available.

Stating the obvious, she said, "... based off of the number of calls for service and how many reports we responded to this year, the number of fireworks around Colorado Springs was much higher than previous years."
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

8 stories making headlines this week

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 1:00 AM

JESSICA KUHN
  • Jessica Kuhn

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Labor Day Lift Off has been modified. This year’s hot air balloon festival will not include its usual activities and vendors in Memorial Park. Rather, balloons will launch from various locations throughout the city Sept. 5-7. See details at coloradospringslabordayliftoff.com.

Mountain Metropolitan Transit will hold virtual public meetings to gather input on proposed fall 2020 service changes. Go to mmtransit.com for a video and survey about the changes and to submit comments by July 10. If approved, changes go into effect Aug. 24.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet joined other Democratic senators in introducing a bill to fund six months of wages and supportive services for unemployed workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 20 million workers are unemployed due to the coronavirus.

El Paso County is preparing to sell four properties in Colorado Springs that the county assessor says have a combined value of nearly $4 million. One property, at 301/305 S. Union Blvd. once housed Public Health but has been vacant for years.

The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office ruled July 1 that off-duty Colorado Springs Police Officer Lucas Aragon was justified in shooting Desmond Hayes at a fast-food drive-thru Feb. 27 after Hayes jumped into his car and said, “I have a gun.”

Gov. Jared Polis signed a raft of bills over the last week, including measures to regulate perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in ground water, to address hospital patient visitation rights during COVID-19 and to create and fund the new Fishers Peak State Park, a bill that also included $90 million in loans and $10 million in grants for the Arkansas River Conduit pipeline through the Arkansas Valley.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Colorado State Fair parade has been canceled. The parade, one of the oldest in Colorado, usually draws more than 40,000 spectators annually.

Protesters have filed a class-action lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, alleging wrongful arrests and crowd-control tactics employed by the Denver Police Department during Black Lives Matter protests throughout June.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

June 30 sees record primary turnout in Colorado

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 1:00 AM

ROZENSKIP / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • RozenskiP / Shutterstock.com

In a primary election that saw record-breaking voter turnout, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated former State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in the Democratic Senate race, 59 to 41 percent, and will take on Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner in November.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office reported that 1.57 million ballots were returned, setting a new record of 45 percent turnout in a primary. Most, 99.3 percent, were returned via mail or at ballot drop boxes. 

In an upset, Lauren Boebert of Rifle defeated incumbent five-term Congressman Scott Tipton in the Republican 3rd District primary by a margin of 55 to 45 percent, while Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush routed James Iacino, 61 to 39 percent.

Locally, Deputy District Attorney Michael Allen thumped El Paso County Commission Chair Mark Waller, 54 to 46 percent. Allen will succeed Dan May, who is term-limited. Waller finishes his commission term in January.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Protesters cited after blocking I-25 on-ramp

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 1:00 AM

HEIDI BEEDLE
  • Heidi Beedle

On Tuesday, June 30, at 8:15 p.m. approximately 50 Black Lives Matter protesters and a half-dozen vehicles blocked northbound Interstate 25 for almost an hour at the Bijou on-ramp. After the protesters left the area, a small group of around 25 protesters gathered at the 7-Eleven at Garden of the Gods Road and I-25.

Acting Colorado Springs Police Department Public Information Officer Natashia Kerr, “a reporting party, who was not involved in the incident, did call our dispatch center around 9:44 p.m., stating that the protesters involved in blocking the freeway were now at the [7-Eleven] on Garden of the Gods Road.”

More than 10 CSPD squad cars and a tow truck arrived at the 7-Eleven, blocking most exits. Two vehicles were stopped by CSPD in the I-25 exit lane on Garden of the Gods Road. The drivers of those two vehicles, Jordan Reece and Shequan Smith, were issued traffic citations. On July 3, those drivers were  issued additional citations for their role in the June 30 protest, along with two other protesters.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

U.S Supreme Court rules against “faithless electors”

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 1:00 AM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com

The U.S. Supreme Court on July 6 ruled that states could remove “faithless electors” who choose to cast a vote for a presidential candidate other than the one chosen via their state’s popular vote.

In 2016, three members of the Electoral College from Colorado planned to vote for Republican John Kasich, rather than Hillary Clinton who won in Colorado, in a failed attempt to deny Donald Trump the electoral votes he needed to win. Only one of those electors cast his vote for Kasich, and he was replaced. The Supreme Court decision reversed an August 2019 appeals court decision that sided with Colorado’s faithless elector. 

In a July 6 news release, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said of the decision: “The Court’s historic opinion ensures that presidential electors will follow State law when they cast their Electoral College ballots in presidential elections and not act as free agents. With this issue decided before the 2020 election, we can avoid uncertainty, chaos, and confusion in the Electoral College, and protect our nation’s democratic principles and system of stable governance.”

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, July 6, 2020

Wommack Ministries threatens lawsuit over AG's shutdown order

Posted By on Mon, Jul 6, 2020 at 9:55 AM

Andrew Wommack speaks at a September 14, 2019, In God We Trust rally that featured several politicians. - PHOTOS BY PAM ZUBECK
  • Photos by Pam Zubeck
  • Andrew Wommack speaks at a September 14, 2019, In God We Trust rally that featured several politicians.
UPDATE:
Eileen, Quinn, public relations manager for Andrew Wommack Ministries, just sent a response to questions, saying the recent event drew 1,000 people, well over the 175-person limit contained in public health orders, and the guests were not required to wear masks. Her comment:
The Summer Family Bible Conference, a Bible-teaching and worship conference, was completed at noon on Friday. We had approximately 1000 attendees, well below the seating occupancy of the building, which is over 5000. The ministry implemented every Teller County Health suggestion, except for the arbitrary attendance cap of 175. Below is a list of major steps we took to ensure the safety of our staff and guests:

• SUBMITTED AND THEN REVISED SOCIAL DISTANCING PLAN FOR TELLER COUNTY
• REQUIRED ALL STAFF AND GUESTS TO ANSWER HEALTH SCREENING QUESTIONS
• CONDUCTED TEMPERATURE CHECKS OF ALL STAFF AND GUESTS AT MOTOR VEHICLE SCREENING CHECK POINT UPON ENTERING PROPERTY BEFORE PARKING
• IMPLEMENTED SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR STAFF AND GUESTS
• ALL STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS WERE REQUIRED TO WEAR MASKS
• PRAYER MINISTERS AND FOOD SERVICE WORKERS WORE GLOVES
• POSTED AMPLE SIGNAGE RELATED TO COVID-19 AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS
• IMPLEMENTED ONE-WAY TRAFFIC FLOW PATTERNS FOR CARS AND FOOT TRAFFIC
• PROVIDED SANTITATION STATIONS THROUGHOUT THE BUILDING
• EMPLOYED MEDICALLY-APPROVED SANITATION PROTOCOLS

———————-ORIGINAL POST 9:55 A.M. MONDAY, JULY 6, 2020—————————


Andrew Wommack Ministries has taken legal action to fight a July 2 cease and desist order issued by the Colorado Attorney General's Office ordering a shutdown of its summer Family Bible Conference.

It's at least the second time in Colorado that a church has taken legal action against restrictions imposed by the state to protect against the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The other involved a church in the Weld County town of Ault, 9News reported.

Wommack Ministries of Woodland Park, which runs programs throughout the year, including large conferences that draw thousands of people, issued a release saying:

The Colorado State Attorney General’s office contacted Andrew Wommack Ministries on July 2, 2020, directing organizers to cease and desist all activities that did not comply with Executive Order D 2020 091 and the Eighth Updated Public Health Order 20-208 Safer at Home and In the Vast, Great Outdoors Requirements and the Teller County variance, issued May 23.

On June 26, 2020, Andrew Wommack and his executive team met with Teller County and Woodland Park public health and law enforcement officials to review and discuss the hosting of a safe and large faith-based gathering. As a result, the ministry submitted an updated plan, to which the county offered further recommendations that was acceptable to the ministry.

Ministry officials were surprised when they received a cease and desist order from the state while in the midst of working closely with Teller County Public Health on revising the event proposal.

Ministry founder Andrew Wommack stated, “We want to protect everyone from getting sick, but this is a violation of our constitutional right to peaceably assemble. We feel like we have already gone to great lengths to do what we can do to comply, short of telling people they can’t attend.”

The ministry has retained Liberty Counsel, a national non-profit litigation, education, and public policy organization with an emphasis on First Amendment and other Constitutional rights, to represent us in this matter.

Liberty Counsel sent a letter to the Colorado Attorney General overviewing the exemplary efforts undertaken by Andrew Wommack Ministries to protect the health and safety of attendees and also pointed out the fact that Gov. Polis permitted thousands of people to gather in mass protests to exercise their First Amendment rights. The letter also raised the First Amendment right to assemble and worship, and described a recent federal court ruling that struck down the executive orders in New York that limited houses of worship attendance. Like in Colorado, the Governor of New York and the Mayor of New York City permitted thousands of people to gather in mass protests. The court found this discriminatory treatment unconstitutional.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Liberty Counsel as advocating against LGBTQ rights, abortion rights and other constitutionally upheld rights.  It's founder is a former dean of Liberty University, which brought students back to campus in March and saw an outbreak of COVID-19.
State Sen. Dennis Hisey was among the politicians who spoke at Wommack's rally in September. Congressman Doug Lamborn appeared via video. Both are Republicans.
  • State Sen. Dennis Hisey was among the politicians who spoke at Wommack's rally in September. Congressman Doug Lamborn appeared via video. Both are Republicans.

We've asked the ministry how many people have been attending the family conferences and whether it's still under way or has been suspended and will circle back if we hear something.

We've also asked the Attorney General's Office for a comment, as well as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. We'll update if and when we receive responses. But the AG's Office has issued cease and desist orders previously to businesses who refused to comply with public health orders regarding COVID-19.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, July 2, 2020

COVID-19 roundup for July 2: Polis urges Coloradans to have a safe 4th of July

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 5:12 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
Governor Jared Polis urged Coloradans to wear masks, follow social distancing requirements and wash their hands frequently this 4th of July holiday weekend.

“Whether Coloradans are enjoying our great outdoors or having a cookout, people should celebrate this 4th of July by staying on the trail that leads to suppressing the virus and rebuilding our economy,” Polis said in a statement today. "That means wearing masks, practicing social distancing and good hygiene, and avoiding risky activities.

“This Independence Day is a time to celebrate our freedom that so many fought to gain, but with freedom comes responsibility, so please exercise personal responsibility, use common sense, and err on the side of caution,” Polis said.


Here are a few guidelines from the state:


Make it safer: If you choose in-person activities, keep it small, keep your distance from others, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask. Consider a smaller gathering than in years past, and try to stay outside where transmission of coronavirus is less likely. Don’t be afraid to change your plans if you feel uncomfortable about the risk.

Know before you go: Check fire bans and local COVID-19-related rules at your destination. If you plan to play in the great outdoors, be prepared with appropriate supplies. Just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic doesn’t mean we can ignore other safety rules.

Prevent fires: It’s fire season, and this year we need to be even more careful. We want to prevent situations where people have to evacuate their homes, firefighters have to deploy to camps, and smoke worsens summer air quality, which would be bad in the middle of a pandemic where the disease attacks the respiratory system. Skip the fireworks and campfires this year.

Have safe family cookouts and gatherings:
Summer gatherings should look different this year. Keep your distance and keep gatherings small. Have fewer interactions with fewer people and stay safe by wearing a face covering, remaining 6 feet away from others, and washing your hands frequently. Being outdoors is ideal — you have the benefit of climate and sunshine to modify or decrease transmission.

Learn more about the risks and benefits of everyday activities.

Colorado logged 33,352 COVID-19 cases
as of July 1, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Throughout the state, 5,527 people have been hospitalized. There have been 1,521 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,701 deaths of people who had the disease but whose deaths may have been attributed to another cause.


El Paso County continued to see an uptick in new cases reported daily that began June 5, with 46 new cases reported July 1 and 35 new cases reported July 2. In all, there have been 2,519 cases reported in the county, 310 hospitalizations and 121 deaths as of July 2, according to El Paso County Public Health.


The U.S. Congress voted June 30 to extend the Paycheck Protection Program.

Less than four hours before the program was scheduled to end, and with more than $130 billion in loan money remaining, the Senate extended the application period through Aug. 8.

The House passed the extension July 1, and the bill is awaiting President Trump’s signature. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) is seeking additional flexibility and relief for small businesses under the PPP program.

The Paycheck Protection Program Extension and Modification Act of 2020, introduced yesterday, would allow businesses that have already received a PPP loan to apply for a second loan. It would also extend the deadline to apply for PPP loans through Dec. 31.

“The Paycheck Protection Program is an essential lifeline for workers and small businesses in Colorado to get through the shutdowns across the country caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gardner said in a news release.

The bill will allow those who took PPP loans to survive the initial shutdowns to get a second PPP loan "to make it through the new, targeted closures," he said.

The bill text is here.

On July 2, Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and Gardner introduced the Timely and Effective Systematic Testing (TEST) Act — sweeping legislation to strengthen the nation’s health preparedness efforts for COVID-19 recovery and future pandemics. The bill requires a plan for diagnostic testing and public health system integration to better detect infectious diseases, prevent outbreaks and avoid future economic shutdowns related to pandemics.

The senators worked with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, to develop this legislation.

“In order to combat COVID-19 and safely reopen our economy at the same time, we need a nationwide, coordinated system to track cases,” Bennet said.  “The TEST Act would help integrate local and federal reporting systems by breaking down current silos to better monitor COVID-19 cases and virus outbreaks. This bill builds on my proposal to create a Health Force to bolster public health infrastructure and train Americans to fight this virus, and would ensure all levels of government have the best systems to report data. The TEST Act will help instill confidence in the economy as we start to reopen.”


The TEST Act:

  • Integrates existing disease detection systems and expands capability to conduct and report rapid and accurate diagnostic tests in order to better prevent the spread of a disease. This includes federal coordination with state, local, tribal, and territorial health officials.
  • Strengthens the nation’s commitment to public health preparedness by making conducting and reporting on rapid and accurate laboratory tests for diseases a top priority within the National Health Security Strategy — the nation’s strategic plan to identify, prevent and address public health threats and other emergencies.
  • Provides grants to state and local public health departments to support testing and reporting capacity.
  • Maintains all health information privacy laws and patient protections.
  • Establishes strict congressional oversight to ensure success.
  • Favorite

Air Force Academy sees COVID outbreak among incoming cadets

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 5:00 PM

The Class of 2024 arrived at the Air Force Academy on June 25. - CHRISTIAN MURDOCK
  • Christian Murdock
  • The Class of 2024 arrived at the Air Force Academy on June 25.
The Air Force Academy is coping with a COVID-19 outbreak involving an undisclosed number of newly arrived cadets for basic training, an Academy spokesperson confirmed to the Indy.

According to sources familiar with Academy operations, the number is about 100 cadets, but Academy spokesperson Mike Kucharek says the actual number is "far lower," though he wouldn't disclose how many have tested positive.

The infected cadets reportedly are being quarantined with their roommates at the Academy while the school's leaders struggle to decide what to do next — keep them there or send them home, said sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kucharek wouldn't disclose details of how the Academy is responding but said, "We have a solid medical response plan in place. We are working very closely with our public health professionals and following guidelines from the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control."

The outbreak comes just months after the Academy sent all freshmen, sophomores and juniors home on March 13 amid the coronavirus pandemic but kept the seniors on campus and quickly arranged for an early graduation on April 18 after two cadets died by suicide in their rooms during lockdown.


The Class of 2024, more than 1,000 strong, arrived on June 25 from all corners of the United States and points in between. They wore masks, as did the cadre of Academy personnel who greeted and in-processed them.

In mid-June, word had spread across the Academy that some cadets on campus had tested positive, triggering reluctance among teaching staff, some of whom are considered in at-risk groups for COVID, to provide in-person instruction, according to sources familiar with Academy operations who spoke on condition they would not be named.

Kucharek declined to directly address that issue, but said academic classes don't begin until early August so "it's hard to say what situation may or may not be in place come the beginning of August."

Kucharek emphasized that the Academy is considered mission-essential to the Air Force and the newly created Space Force. "Cadets are critical accession resources for the Air Force. As such, we have an obligation to train and educate the next Air and Space forces leaders," he said.

Kucharek also tells the Indy the Academy has "strict testing and restrictions of movement policies in place" and though he couldn't specifically say how the infected cadets are being treated, he said the Academy relies on a quarantine and isolation plan.

El Paso County Public Health doesn't release infection numbers for the military installations, and referred the Indy to the Academy for more information. The Department of Defense reports coronavirus data by branch of the military, not by installation. As explained by Public Health spokesperson Michelle Hewitt in an April 17 email to the Indy:

...while we work closely with our military partners, the military operates under federal jurisdiction, and they are mandated to follow the guidelines and recommendations from the federal level, rather than the local level. They are mandated per DoD policy not to publish numbers of service members who may be sick, as this is a critical aspect of operational security. If you have questions about the implications of operational security, I would encourage you to reach out to military PAOs directly. As we discussed before, military bases fall under federal jurisdiction, and local public health agencies do not have the authority to report out on their data. 
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Hickenlooper wins primary, will take on Gardner

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 10:43 AM

STATE OF COLORADO
  • State of Colorado
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will take on incumbent Republican Senator Cory Gardner in November after a decisive victory in Tuesday’s Democratic Senate primary.

The Associate Press called Hickenlooper’s victory over over former Colorado State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff just 21 minutes after polls closed.

Unofficial results posted to the Secretary of State’s website Wednesday afternoon show Hickenlooper capturing 59.3 percent of the vote compared to Romanoff’s 40.6 percent.

For El Paso County, more than 44,000 votes were cast for Hickenlooper (63 percent) compared to 25,700 for Romanoff (36.8 percent.)

In the El Paso County’s Republican primary for district attorney, Deputy District Attorney Michael Allen defeated El Paso County Commission Chairperson Mark Waller with nearly 54 percent of the vote.

Because no Democrat is running, Allen will take over for 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May, who leaves office in January.

In District 3, five-term incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton was upset by Lauren Boebert, and Diane Mitsch Bush soundly defeated James Iacino.

In State House District 20, the Democratic primary saw Meg Fossinger besting Susan Crutchfield with more than 63 percent of the vote. She’ll take on Rep. Terri Carver in November.

As for voter turnout, 1,577,347 ballots were returned as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Wednesday update by the Secretary of State.
The ballots mark a turnout of 44.96 percent for active voters, which will increase as additional ballots are processed.
Of all voted ballots, 99.3 percent were returned via mail or drop box, encompassing 99.4 percent of Republican Primary voters, and 99.2 percent Democratic Primar voters.

Statewide turnout, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, is “easily the largest of any state primary in Colorado’s history.”

The state saw just 37.63 percent of active voters turnout for the its primary in 2018.

In El Paso County, 157,204 ballots were cast for a turnout of 37.68 percent.

At last update, 918,374 Democrat ballots had been tabulated statewide, compared to 565,805 Republican. Unaffiliated voters casting Democratic ballots outnumbered Republicans 308,735 to 114,325.

Ballots will continue to be processed over the next eight days. Military and overseas ballots cast by 7 p.m. on election day will be counted up to July 8, when preliminary results will be finalized and the state’s Risk Limiting Audit will be conducted July 10. All results will be made official three weeks after the election.

Editor's note: This story has been updated.
  • Favorite

A reckoning over colonialist and civil war monuments in Denver

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 10:38 AM

CREATIVE FAMILY / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Creative Family / Shutterstock.com

Some Colorado protesters and politicians continue to seek the removal of statues of historical figures perceived to be racist as part of the ongoing movement against racial injustice in the United States.

A pair of statues in downtown Denver were toppled by protesters last week — a Civil War monument was torn down June 24, and a statue in Denver’s Civic Center honoring Christopher Columbus was removed the following day. And on Saturday night, June 27, a group of protesters broke apart from a larger, peaceful demonstration and attempted to set fire to the pedestal where the Civil War monument had been located.

Gov. Jared Polis announced Sunday that three suspects were arrested for attempted arson. 

According to The Denver Post, the destruction of monuments has spurred city officials to accelerate the removal of at least one other statue downtown, which honored Kit Carson.

The Post also reports that Denver city leaders have called for the city’s landmarks and public art to be reevaluated through a modern lens.

Also last week, Sen. Michael Bennet was among 36 Senate Democrats to sign on to a bill to rename all military facilities that refer to the Confederacy or individuals who served the Confederate States of America.

The Removing Confederate Names and Symbols from Our Military Act would require the Pentagon to remove references that honor or commemorate the Confederacy. Grave markers would be exempted. If passed, the Pentagon would be required to rename all such assets within one year.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Colorado response to COVID-19 in jails earns D- grade

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 10:28 AM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • shutterstock.com

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Prison Policy Initiative released a nationwide report June 25 comparing states’ responses to COVID-19 in jails and prisons. All states received extremely poor grades, but Colorado was ranked sixth in the nation for its efforts to prevent COVID-19 deaths behind bars. 

The report assigned scores and letter grades to each state based on such factors as whether corrections departments provided testing and personal protective equipment to staff and the incarcerated population and whether states reduced county jail and state prison populations. 

Colorado was one of nine states to receive a D-. All other states received F or F+ grades. 

“The results are clear: Despite all of the information, voices calling for action, and the obvious need, state responses ranged from disorganized or ineffective, at best, to callously nonexistent at worst,” the report states.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , ,

AG to investigate Elijah McClain death

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 10:26 AM

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser

Gov. Jared Polis has appointed Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser as a special prosecutor to investigate the death of Aurora resident Elijah McClain, a 23-year old Black man who died while in the custody of the Aurora Police Department in August 2019.

Polis’ appointment, made by executive order June 25, directs Weiser to investigate and, if there are supporting facts, criminally prosecute law enforcement officers or others whose actions caused McClain’s death. 

McClain was confronted by police, placed in a chokehold and was later injected with ketamine, a tranquilizer, by a fire department medic. He stopped breathing and suffered a heart attack en route to the hospital. He was taken off life support six days later.

In the order, Polis acknowledges that the state rarely gets involved in such matters, but says, McClain’s case is “truly exceptional” in that widely reported facts are not addressed in any current investigation, warranting a supplemental evaluation of the case.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Housing gets a boost

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 10:08 AM

NEDNAPA / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Nednapa / Shutterstock.com

Affordable housing in Colorado Springs got a shot in the arm recently with the opening of a renovated apartment complex — Rocky Mountain — and the city’s establishment of HomeCOS.

Rocky Mountain, 2812 E. Bijou St. welcomed its first tenant June 22 at the one- and two-bedroom complex, which also offers two units that are Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant. The building offers an enclosed courtyard, playground, community garden and a “Grab-N-Go” library — located with bus route access, according to a news release issued by nonprofit Greccio Housing, the owner. 

On June 23, the city unveiled “HomeCOS, Housing our Future,” a plan to add affordable housing. Strategies include infill development, a new development fee structure, federal incentives, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, supplemental down payment programs, Accessory Dwelling Units and adaptive reuse of existing buildings, as well as engaging with the faith and philanthropic communities.

The plan stems from Mayor John Suthers’ goal to add 1,000 affordable housing units per year. See the plan at coloradosprings.gov/HomeCOS.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Recent Comments

All content © Copyright 2020, The Colorado Springs Independent

Website powered by Foundation