Mullica: We require resistance for COVID-19 not for business duty

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The predicted fall/winter resurgence of COVID-19 has arrived in Colorado. As an ER nurse who faces the realities of the pandemic with every shift, I can tell you that we ALL need to fight this health care crisis together with all the tools available and not let down our guards. No one should get a free pass. 

In my role as state legislator now in a special legislative session to consider public policies to help guide us through this crisis, I oppose granting civil legal immunity to corporations and some businesses because it won’t help stop the spread of the infection.

And neither Colorado nor the nation can get back to business as usual until we have the virus under control.

State Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn

No doubt the vast majority of businesses are doing their best to deal with containing COVID-19, but we all know that it takes only a few lapses to create a community crisis. Unfortunately, there are still people who intentionally won’t wear a mask and flaunt the CDC recommendations, endangering their family, friends and anyone around them.

Allowing legal immunity to places where people work, shop and gather translates into relieving some segments of the population from their responsibility to be part of the pandemic solution. 

Pandemic fatigue is real, and we all feel it. People are desperate to get out of their homes and back to work, just to support themselves, their families and their households. They should not have to choose between their health and their lives and making a living.

Our public debate during this special session should not be about giving sweeping immunity to corporations; instead we should be holding them accountable to provide appropriate health precautions for their employees and the public.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

We’ve seen how this health care crisis has exposed the inequities in our communities with low-income and people of color suffering disproportionately. The working-class people that I represent deserve a safe environment to work in as they go about their lives providing for their families.

My neighbors should not have to shoulder a bigger burden while corporate entities are provided with a legal pass from taking their piece of the responsibility.

Colorado employees should not be required to choose between paying this month’s bills and returning to work in a dangerous environment for an employer that cannot be held accountable.

In truth, we all have a responsibility to do our part to protect others during this pandemic. Corporations are not excluded from this truth. 

I am exposed to COVID-19 regularly in the emergency room. I disinfect and wear every piece of personal protective equipment possible to prevent transmission of the virus to my fellow employees, other patients and to my wife and children.

Working in the ER is physically and emotionally exhausting as the never-ending onslaught of patients continue to crowd our hospitals and emergency rooms.

Seeing it first-hand has been discouraging at times, but taking care of patients is what I signed up to do. I refuse to stand by while immunity is granted, instead of focusing our efforts on beating COVID-19.

Even with the vaccines just weeks or months away from distribution, it is important to socially distance, wear masks and practice good personal hygiene habits to flatten the rate of infection. We cannot let up, and we all share responsibility to beat the virus. No free passes. 


Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn, is an emergency room nurse and former emergency medical technician. 


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com. 

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  • Mullica: We need immunity for COVID-19, not for corporate responsibility
  • Opinion: Transitioning away from fossil fuels means more jobs, not fewer
  • With no action by Congress, Colorado and other states are racing to offer coronavirus aid
  • Colorado Democrats unveil details of their coronavirus relief plans for the special legislative session
  • Littwin: Getting on a plane was easy, but restoring Michael Hancock’s credibility will be a lot harder

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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/30/kyle-mullica-coronavirus-legislature-opinion/



Point of view: Transitioning far from nonrenewable fuel sources means more tasks not fewer

#asone? ? ⚛ ?‍?‍?‍?

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Congratulations to John Hickenlooper for his recent election to represent Colorado in the U.S. Senate.  As one of the many people in Colorado and the United States concerned with the increasingly visible effects of climate change, I welcome his expertise. 

As a geologist, Hickenlooper understands the science and the urgency to transition to a 100% renewable-energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050. I am thrilled he supports a job-creating plan for the U.S. that includes government-funded climate technology research, reinventing America’s transportation system, increased energy efficiency, and job training for people transitioning out of the fossil-fuel industry into green jobs.

Some worry that a transition away from fossil fuels could kill jobs. However, cutting fossil-fuel emissions actually puts more people to work, at comparable wages, than business as usual. 

Susan Atkinson

Fossil fuel employment has been shrinking for years, mainly because of mechanization, not regulation. For example, in 1980, producing 100 tons of coal per hour required 52 miners; by 2015 that number dropped to 16. Even though more coal was being mined, coal mining lost 58% of its jobs between 1980 and 2015. 

In 2018, there were 2.4 million jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency, compared to half that number in fossil energy. The number of installers and service technicians for solar and wind is forecast to grow 11 to 13 times faster than the U.S. average.  

Also, the vast majority of energy-sector jobs, including electricians, power plant operators, riggers, etc., are needed for both fossil and non-fossil energy. We also need more clean storage, clean fuels, and clean vehicles. 

With fossil-fuel jobs disappearing and clean energy jobs increasing more and more, the argument that “transitioning away from fossil fuels will tank the economy” simply does not make sense.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Our country will still need energy, whether it comes from low- or zero-carbon sources or from the old polluting sources of the past. The energy technologies on the horizon will create more well-paying jobs per energy dollar spent, and will continue to do so even as the new technologies are put in place. 

Not only is renewable electricity already cost-competitive with fossil-generated power in many locations, it provides 50% more jobs, at similar pay, for the same amount of energy.

Creation of good-quality jobs is of critical importance to our country, especially now in a time of high unemployment.   We also need to address the escalating threat of climate change. 

The high costs of damage from climate-related disasters (increased hurricanes, drought, wildfires, flooding, and sea-level rise) are not sustainable. In 2017, extreme weather events cost the U.S. a jaw-dropping $306 billion. Extreme, unseasonable weather harms our crops and livestock. 

The next Congress will be presented with a critical opportunity for bipartisan climate legislation. This juncture in history can accomplish a solution for both job creation and climate change.

As an experienced politician, Hickenlooper understands that ambitious transitions are expedited by smart policy. He supports implementing a carbon-dividend plan that accounts for the hidden costs of greenhouse gasses that result from burning fossil fuels. 

Placing a fee on carbon pollution provides necessary market incentives to quickly lower carbon emissions without using government regulation. These market incentives stimulate invention and investment to cut carbon in myriad ways. Scientists and economists alike say it’s the best first step to reduce the impact of global warming.

A carbon dividend plan starts with a carbon fee placed on coal, oil, or natural gas as it enters the U.S. economy. All of the money generated by the plan is recycled to American residents in equal monthly carbon dividends, helping consumers adapt while businesses compete to reduce their carbon footprints. 

Consumers can use the dividends to help them transition to a world of clean, energy-efficient goods and services. The dividend payment more than offsets any potential increase in energy costs to low and middle income families.

A carbon border fee adjustment could be placed on emissions-intensive goods that are imported or exported. This discourages businesses from relocating to where they can pollute more, and also encourages other nations to price carbon.

By lowering carbon pollution, we can create jobs, reduce the cost of climate-related disasters and advance economic growth. With Hickenlooper’s leadership we can accelerate the shift toward a clean energy economy for all.   


Susan Atkinson of Durango is a volunteer with Citizens Climate Lobby, a nonprofit advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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  • Mullica: We need immunity for COVID-19, not for corporate responsibility
  • Opinion: Transitioning away from fossil fuels means more jobs, not fewer
  • With no action by Congress, Colorado and other states are racing to offer coronavirus aid
  • Colorado Democrats unveil details of their coronavirus relief plans for the special legislative session
  • Littwin: Getting on a plane was easy, but restoring Michael Hancock’s credibility will be a lot harder

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Colorado lawmakers reconvene to think about stimulation plan yet specialists examine the cost to the state

#muchneeded? ? ? ?

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The unemployment checks for Englewood resident Dana John and her husband ended in July, and the $1,200 federal stimulus money is long gone. 

One small hope on the horizon is the $375 check Colorado is sending as a stimulus to lower-income unemployed workers. It’s not much, but John said it’s much needed. “I don’t know if we will be getting the $375 or not,” John wrote in an email. “I am so scared that we are gonna be living on the streets very soon here.”

Her situation is the kind that Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado lawmakers say they have at the front of their minds as they return to the Capitol on Monday for a special legislative session focused on a coronavirus relief package.

The one-time payment to out-of-work Coloradans — expected to arrive in the coming days — is part of a $1.3 billion stimulus package the governor has proposed to help citizens. In the three-day session, the Democratic-led General Assembly will consider only the most pressing spending items — totaling up to $300 million — but more action is expected during the next regular session in early 2021.

The question surrounding the legislation expected during the special session, and the broader stimulus package, is whether it can even make a difference given its meager size and the deeper problems with Colorado’s budgetary picture.

In interviews, a handful of economists in Colorado say the answer is not clear, but something may prove better than nothing, considering Congress’ inaction on the issue.

“Anything right now is helpful,” said Mac Clouse, a finance professor at University of Denver’s Reiman School of Finance. ”And the people that it’s targeting are the people that are hurting the worst. And they’re the ones that need it the most. So I think it’s a good idea. I guess the sad thing is that it can’t be more.”

The financial help is minimal compared to what the federal CARES Act and other relief bills provided earlier this year. About $24 billion in federal aid flowed into Colorado and helped unemployed workers pay bills and helped keep the state’s economy afloat. 

“This available state money will clearly not be sufficient to get Colorado through another economic fallout if something similar to April were to occur again,” said Chris Brown, director of policy and research at the Common Sense Institute in Greenwood Village. “Therefore, the priorities should be (to make) everything possible at this moment to keep businesses open safely, to keep consumers happy, and keep the labor force healthy and really able to work.”

Questions remain about whether Colorado can afford the stimulus package

Polis said his stimulus plan would generate 15,000 jobs and boost the state’s economy by a fraction of a percent. The governor’s office declined to make the details public, but officials said most of the impact is related to the stimulus checks, as well as broadband, road and other infrastructure projects in the proposal.

Other states are making similar moves. New Mexico lawmakers returned for a special session last week, during which they approved $1,200 checks to some of those receiving unemployment.

“I think the approach we are taking is certainly a very good way to provide economic relief,” said House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. But, she added, “certainly what we can do is nothing compared to what the federal government can do.”

The concern is that offering the emergency pandemic relief is just too much for a state — or any state — to bear as the economy continues to be in turmoil. 

Colorado’s insurance trust fund ran out of money in August and has so far borrowed $573 million from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits to thousands. Meanwhile, the $375 payments, slated to be mailed Dec. 1, are coming from $168 million out of the state’s reserve fund, which is already below where it should be.

“The state’s budgets are not in great shape,” Clouse said. “And they don’t have a whole lot of surplus money that they can take from somewhere to do any more than what Polis has found. It’s amazing that he’s talking about doing that given everything else we hear about how bad the state budget looks, and what kind of shortfalls there are.” 

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The money available for the governor’s stimulus proposal is based on the governor’s rosy projections for tax collections — and a legislative forecast suggests the money won’t materialize.

Moreover, if revenues do beat projections, the money is available because of the budget cuts lawmakers made earlier this year. 

“Those were dollars that were going to go to plug huge structural deficits for transportation, child care, education and higher education. In spending these dollars, those are dollars we are not spending on really important structural needs that the economy needs, with or without a pandemic,” said Scott Wasserman, president of The Bell Policy Center, a progressive advocacy group in Denver.

In addition to the one-time checks being sent to 430,000 people, the economic relief lawmakers will consider includes $105 million for restaurants and bars by allowing them to keep up to $2,000 a month in their collected state sales tax. 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks to reporters at the governor’s mansion in downtown Denver on July 9, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Another $50 million will replenish the funds for the state’s rental assistance programs open to tenants and landlords. There are also longer-term investments totaling $360 million dedicated to infrastructure improvements for broadband, streets, roads and bridges, some of which may be considered in the special session, with more to come when lawmakers convene for the next term in January.

State Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, is sponsoring the legislation to provide restaurant relief, but he acknowledged that more needs to be done. He is proposing another bill to protect businesses from lawsuits related to COVID-19 if they follow the state’s public health protocols. A similar measure didn’t make any progress in the legislative session earlier this year.

“At the end of the day, the way to help businesses and the economy is to provide a favorable business and economic climate,” Tate said. In terms of the future outlook, he said “confidence is so important for business investment.”

More state spending can boost economy, experts say

Historically, increased spending leads to economic gains, said Joseph Kane, an associate fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute, a progressive research group. 

“Given what we have seen in past recessions and past policy responses, we know that additional public funding and planning around a recovery can help provide a bit of a buffer to our most disadvantaged and struggling workers,” said Kane, who co-wrote a report exploring an infrastructure stimulus plan for COVID-19. 

Adding infrastructure to the proposal is smart because it often receives bipartisan support because of the interest in job creation and improving the efficiency and performance of essential services that we all depend on right now, Kane said. 

He pointed to the New Deal from the 1930s. It funded “forward-looking” projects that delivered clean water, electricity and telephone service to some people for the first time. That’s like broadband today, which seems plentiful in urban areas but as the pandemic forced students into remote learning, thousands of children in Colorado couldn’t access — or afford — reliable internet service, even in Denver.

“As we’re thinking of the short-term relief measures, we shouldn’t overlook the foundations that are going to power our long-term recovery,” Kane said. 

If the goal is to get the state’s labor force back to work, then the $50 million earmarked in the proposal for child-care providers makes a lot of sense to experts because it allows families to continue making a living, said Brown at the conservative-leaning Common Sense Institute.

“One area that in our research that has consistently shown up is the struggles of parents, and particularly mothers, who left the labor force in large numbers following the March stay-at-home orders,” Brown said. “If we’re facing a potentially similar situation (as the spring), it’s really critical for policy and potential funding to be able to support working parents and working mothers to stay in the labor force and address the childcare and schooling needs.” 

Colorado’s unemployed workers holding out hope for more help

Timing, though, is everything. When the $1,200 federal stimulus check arrived earlier this summer, John was already unemployed and receiving the extra $600 each week from the federal government.

But then for a reason unknown to them, the couple’s unemployment payments were put on hold in July, around the same time the $600-a-week federal program ended. 

Because the state’s unemployment rate fell below 5% on Nov. 7, it triggered the end of a special 13-week extension of federal unemployment benefits on Nov. 28. The rate, however, only included those on regular state unemployment, or around 131,429. It excluded nearly 100,000 more who’ve exhausted state benefits or are gig workers receiving federal pandemic benefits. As of Nov. 7, the number of Coloradans still receiving some sort of unemployment benefit was 224,076.

John said she hasn’t received a benefit check since July and now is facing eviction.

Polis extended the eviction ban last week. Tenants must fill out a declaration form saying they are unable to pay due to COVID-19 and show it to their landlord. Evictions are banned through Dec. 20, but tenants are still responsible for back rent.

Both renters and landlords can tap two rental assistance programs to help. The Emergency Housing Assistance Program is for tenants while the Property Owner Preservation program  allows landlords to apply for rent on behalf of a tenant who cannot pay. 

As of Nov. 20, the tenant program has paid $4.4 million to provide rent to 1,750 tenants in Colorado, while the landlord program paid $16.1 million to provide rent for 11,117 households, according to data provided by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The programs were funded by $22.5 million, mostly from federal CARES Act money.

Polis’ stimulus would add $50 million to housing eviction prevention.

But states cannot continue to find the funds needed to match the federal government’s support. And it’s shocking that Congress has been unable to move on new relief for months, said Wasserman at The Bell Policy Center. 

“The fact that the federal government is paralyzed as it is right now and the fact that they are not moving aid to the states and cities is just absolutely flooring to me,” Wasserman said. “The bottom line is that state and city budgets were never designed to, nor can they really provide, the kind of relief that’s needed in this economy right now.”

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  • Colorado lawmakers reconvene to consider stimulus plan, but experts question the cost to the state
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  • Six months after eviction, a Denver woman wonders if she’ll ever have stable housing again
  • Subsidized broadband program speeds up, but Colorado customers must upgrade to keep discount
  • Colorado’s I-25 project on “The Gap” combined data, thousands of photos and engineering to minimize roadkill

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Colorados I-25 job on The Gap incorporated data hundreds of images and design to minimize roadkill

#lonetree? ?

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It’s a picturesque and remarkable feat of preservation. Meandering plains, mountains and meadows reflect a decades-long effort to link massive, contiguous public and private parcels along a miles-wide corridor that runs roughly from Monument Hill north to Lone Tree. It features land wrapped in expansive conservation easements, protected habitat and, to the west, Pike National Forest. 

It also teems with wildlife. There’s a herd of elk on billionaire John Malone’s Harmony Ranch that can range from 350-500 animals. Pronghorn, mule and whitetail deer, dozens of bighorn sheep as well as bears and mountain lions range across the varied terrain, as do smaller animals such as coyotes, badgers and wild turkeys.

Countless Front Range motorists may not dwell on these details, but they’re more than a little familiar with the landscape: Their vehicles slice through it every time they buzz down that busy stretch of Interstate 25. 

And that’s been a problem — both for drivers surprised by literal deer in the headlights and the wildlife that for decades has risked becoming roadkill to traverse a four-lane highway through its habitat. With the Colorado Department of Transportation’s current project to widen an 18-mile stretch from Castle Rock to Monument known as The Gap, expanding it to six lanes to accommodate mounting traffic, motorists and wildlife would have made for an even more dangerous and potentially deadly mix.

That’s where about $20 million of the $350 million project comes into play. After extensive data collection and crunching — everything from crash numbers to images from more than a dozen motion-activated cameras — wildlife biologists and engineers have responded to the migration habits of the area’s many species with a mitigation plan designed to drastically reduce the dangerous intersection of vehicles and wildlife.

“The I-25 corridor runs right through the middle of some of our best habitat,” says Andy Hough, environmental resources coordinator for Douglas County Open Space and Natural Resources. “Wildlife have had the ability to cross over the highway, especially at night when traffic volumes are a little bit lower, forever.”

But the ongoing construction to widen, grade and iron out some dangerous curves, scheduled to be completed in 2022, will make I-25 very difficult to cross safely. That means the wildlife Douglas County and its many partners, including private landowners, have spent millions to protect needs some help finding their way to the other side.

“It’s becoming a huge, wide swath of asphalt that will be difficult to cross,” Hough says. “So part of the process was to put up wildlife exclusionary fencing and just keep wildlife off the highway, so they can’t get onto it and, not be able to cross, and then go back and forth like a pinball machine until they’re hit by a vehicle.”

A bear roams through a meadow while vehicles cruise past on Interstate 25 in August of 2017. The image was captured by a motion-sensing camera deployed to determine wildlife patterns along this stretch of highway in Douglas County. (Provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

The project has been about much more than just fencing. In all, CDOT, several partner agencies and contractor Kraemer North America pooled brainpower and procured funding to create five wildlife underpasses and dozens of escape routes for wayward animals, with a much more expensive wildlife overpass on its wish list.

Hough, who helped implement the county’s master plan for wildlife conservation, stresses the significance of this stretch of real estate as Douglas County — and much of the Front Range — continues to develop rapidly. Every new driveway, every new fence, every new resident’s pets combine with the burgeoning traffic at all hours to create potential disturbances to wildlife habitat.

That’s why he speaks of this land with something approaching reverence.

“It has the most contiguous blocks of protected habitat on both sides — the most potential for connectivity,” Hough says. “Everything else is built up or fragmented. We have many square miles of protected high-value habitat, the largest continuous block between Pueblo and Fort Collins. 

“That’s why this corridor is so important.” 

Environmental planning for ways to improve the 34 miles of highway from Lone Tree to Monument began in 2016, and public meetings opened up in January 2017.

Chuck Attardo, I-25 south corridor environmental manager for CDOT, recalls a rush of media attention at those meetings as it quickly became obvious that serious problems needed to be addressed. The Gap denotes the stretch between Denver and Colorado Springs where the thoroughfare shrunk to just two lanes in each direction.

“So you have this big bottleneck,” Attardo explains. “Not only that, you don’t have any shoulders, and these curves are unsafe. Not only that, but the weather can be terrible. So all these things compounded the safety and traffic problems that we heard from the public agencies.

“The other conclusion we came to,” he adds, ”was that the wildlife is part of that problem. Animal-vehicle collisions substantially contribute to the safety and the traffic problem in the 18-mile gap. So that’s kind of how the whole thing started.”

(Provided by Colorado Division of Wildlife)

Attardo assembled what he calls the “bio team,” made up of workers from CDOT, federal and local governments, regulatory agencies and “all kinds of biologists and planners.” They started examining crash data from CDOT, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado State Patrol records and cross-referencing it to determine the scope and specific locations of the problem. They found plenty, especially in the months of November and June — high migration periods when more than one deer or elk is struck each day, on average.

“So the conclusion we come to is that wildlife mitigation systems need to be part of any project as it goes to construction,” Attardo says. 

But they couldn’t do that without more data. Colorado Parks and Wildlife tracks deer and elk with electronic collars in some regions, but not in this area. So the only data available was CDOT’s maintenance data (basically, what roadkill it cleaned off the pavement) and CSP’s crash data. Further complicating the matter is the fact that many vehicle-wildlife crashes aren’t logged that way. Authorities sometimes log them as speed-related, though CDOT says it’s encouraging the CSP to log them as both.

“Right away,” says Brandon Marette, Northeast Region energy liaison and land use coordinator, “we figured out that there was a data gap.”

He did find out that CPW’s district wildlife managers track bear and mountain lion mortality across the state, though that information was buried in three-ring binders that Marette had to digitize and cross-reference with locations on that stretch of the highway.

But even roadkill data is spotty, Marette notes. Working on the wildlife issues associated with a project on state Colorado 9 near Silverthorne, he learned that roadkills can be underreported by as much as 80%. So he and colleague Karen Voltura, a fellow CPW land-use specialist, set out to supplement the early data. For starters, they knew that I-25 and Tomah Road, near Larkspur, has been a hotspot for wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Dating back to October 2018, CDOT compiled collision data from a 14-mile span within The Gap and came up with these two-year totals: 126 incidents involving 76 deer, 15 bears, 10 mountain lions, four hawks and an owl, plus crashes with about seven other species.

“That’s a pretty high ratio,”Marette says. “With 126 road kills, that tells me this is a very important project for wildlife and motorists. The last thing you want is someone to get in a significant car accident.” 

Overall, The Gap corridor averages a few crashes a day, with about 10% caused by wildlife, according to CDOT, which also adds that the number is probably underreported.

“Many people in both local government and the general public questioned why we’d spend money on this,” Attardo says. “For the people who were skeptical, we had to phrase this in safety terms. It will pay for itself in 15 years. A lot of people are injured from these crashes. By the end of the environmental assessment, almost everybody supported it.”

The next step: cameras.

One of the motion-sensing cameras used to determine where to put wildlife crossings captured this deer, with oncoming headlights along Interstate 25 in the area dubbed The Gap. (Provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

The team chose 12 initial locations between Monument and Larkspur to collect data with motion-sensing still cameras to learn more about wildlife habits along the corridor. Eventually, they’d move the cameras to about 20 other locations to get a complete picture of wildlife use of this stretch of highway. 

What they found out, after workers combed through thousands of photos, was that animals have been moving parallel to and approaching I-25 most places along this 12- to 14-mile stretch — not just a couple common locations. That made their job of locating the underpasses more challenging.  

A CDOT contractor helped Marette with the camera setup and he checked them regularly. One problem with cameras triggered by motion was that anything that moved — even blowing shrubs or tall grasses — produced sometimes worthless images by the thousands 

“One (camera) had thousands of pictures of cows. You have to sort through all those pictures, identify what the species are and whether they’re using existing culverts. Predators were using them, but prey species are not typically using them.”

The cameras also revealed 17 separate species lurking near the highway, not counting cattle,  people and pets that triggered the shutters. Mapping overlays with crash data revealed two hot spots: one near Palmer Divide Road on Monument Hill, dropping into the town of Monument; and the other near that familiar Tomah Road exit, approaching Larkspur.

Wildlife may have been motivated by forage opportunities or seasonal events, such as giving birth. But why they crossed the road wasn’t the issue. 

“Regardless of the why, the important thing to CDOT, CPW and Douglas County is how they’re crossing the road,” Marette says. “Now, if they’re crossing overland when traffic is going 70-80 mph, they don’t stand a chance. By providing five crossing structures, we’re expecting a 90% decline in wildlife (accident) numbers.”

That’s roughly the decrease in wildlife-vehicle accidents in the Colorado 9 project in Summit Countyf. While there’s no guarantee of similar results along I-25, a three-year study once the project has been completed will test that estimate with hard data.

Armed with the information about wildlife tendencies, the bio team sat down with engineers to see what, given the project’s budget, could be done to mitigate the danger. Overpasses are optimal, as their wide-open construction tends to invite many species to make the crossing. But they’re also expensive.

More budget-friendly underpasses seemed to hold the most viable solution. 

“We know our budget is about $350 million, and we know we can’t take any right of way as part of the project, we can’t encroach into that property adjacent to the interstate,” he says. “That’s because we don’t have money or enough time to go through an acquisition process and acquire that property. We had to match up camera data of the important crossings with areas the engineers tell us they have room to squeeze in an underpass.”

The lone exception: the revamped Greenland interchange, which was going to be elevated anyway, making an underpass a safe bet.

This predator prowling along Interstate 25 won’t hesitate to use a culvert for passage across the highway. But prey animals like deer and elk often won’t use culverts because they don’t afford a view to the other side that assures no predators like this one are lying in wait. (Provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

All five of the underpasses were built larger than usual. Size matters, particularly to deer and elk, which are constantly on guard against predators. Though this stretch of I-25 contains some culverts, maybe 5 feet high and 3 feet wide, the field of vision through to the other side isn’t sufficient to allay deer’s suspicions that a predator could be lurking. The photo data indicated that even one large culvert that measured roughly 7×10 feet made them skittish.

“At first glance, it looks like it’s wide enough for deer to go in, and we had many pictures of deer looking in, but deer didn’t go into it,” Marette says. “While it may have been wide enough, it had a dogleg in the middle and they couldn’t see through to the other side. It was a dark tunnel and deer didn’t like that.”

The underpasses being built now are 100 feet wide and 18 feet tall, to provide an unobstructed view of what awaits beyond the highway. 

“It’s a big light at the end of the tunnel, if you will,” Marette says. “That’s a good analogy for the whole project — light at the end of the tunnel for wildlife and motorist safety. Having that wide visual reassurance for deer and elk to go under without fear of a predator on the other end is very important. 

“That said,” he adds, “elk are sort of the problem child, leery of underpasses. That’s why we try to maximize to the tallest and widest extent possible to see if elk will use it. That’s also one aspect of our post-construction study.”

The underpasses also feature familiar flora, with about 6,000 plants going in — about 15 variations of native trees and shrubs to give wildlife even greater confidence in the passage. Sixty-three escape ramps will be available for animals that somehow find their way into the I-25 right of way so they can jump down to safe, familiar habitat. Along with 145,000 linear feet — more than 27 miles — of fencing, the project will feature 22 grates, similar to cattle guards, that discourage animals entering off-limits areas that can’t be fenced.

Although much of the fencing has been erected, there are still opportunities during the construction phases for wildlife to try to sneak across the highway the old way.

“We asked those folks who work for CDOT to keep tabs on animal-vehicle collisions,” Attardo says. “We’re seeing that they’re down a bit. I don’t know if construction interrupted movement of elk and deer in the area.

“But we can see evidence of those areas already being used.” 

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  • Opinion: Transitioning away from fossil fuels means more jobs, not fewer
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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/30/cdot-i25-gap-project-wildlife/



New Colorado state guidelines can suggest less quarantines extra in-person learning

#stayopen? ? ?‍?‍?‍? ? ?

more news https://northdenvernews.com

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.

New Colorado state guidance could mean fewer teachers have to quarantine at home after a positive case of COVID-19 at their school, allowing more classrooms to stay open.

The guidance, released Wednesday, comes after district superintendents advocated for increased flexibility on who to send home when students or staff members test positive. The new rules allow schools in all counties to enact targeted quarantines of a sick person’s close contacts rather than quarantining that person’s entire class or cohort.

Previously, the guidelines required whole classes or cohorts to quarantine in counties with high levels of COVID transmission. That sometimes resulted in leaving too few adults to operate schools, which necessitated a switch to remote learning.

Twenty-two of Colorado’s 30 largest school districts plan to offer only virtual instruction between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to a Chalkbeat analysis. In shifting to online learning, many superintendents cited staffing shortages due to high numbers of teachers in quarantine.

Gov. Jared Polis has repeatedly said he’d like to see schools remain open for in-person learning, a decision that’s left up to individual districts in Colorado. On Wednesday, he said the new quarantine guidelines, which he noted are “nearly identical to protocols that worked in August and September,” are a good way to maximize in-person learning.

COVID-19 IN COLORADO

The latest from the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado:

  • LIVE BLOG: The latest on closures, restrictions and other major updates.
  • MAP: Cases and deaths in Colorado.
  • TESTING: Here’s where to find a community testing site. The state is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.
  • STORY: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, his partner test positive for COVID-19

>> FULL COVERAGE

Virus levels in Colorado are much higher now than in August and September. For example, on Aug. 20, state statistics show a seven-day average of 3% of COVID tests coming back positive. By Nov. 20, the seven-day average had skyrocketed to 12%.

A new 15-member “back-to-school working group” established by Polis met for the first time Wednesday. Its aim is to help districts offer as much uninterrupted in-person learning as possible in the second semester. Members include two superintendents, two public health officials, a teacher, a paraprofessional, a nurse, two parents, and others. (See full list below.) 

Polis called the first meeting “very productive.”

“The classroom is one of the safest places,” he said. “We want to do all we can in that controlled environment to not have an additional semester as chaotic as this one.” 

Many districts and classrooms have switched from remote learning to in-person learning and back again as virus conditions shift or students and staff are quarantined.

The new guidelines will likely mean fewer quarantine-related disruptions to in-person learning. If schools are taking certain precautions, such as following seating charts, screening for symptoms, and requiring masks, they can practice targeted quarantining.

Under targeted quarantine, only people who were within 6 feet of a sick person for 15 minutes or more while wearing masks, or within 12 feet unmasked, must quarantine at home.

In line with guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 15 minutes is cumulative. For example, two 10-minute exposures would count as 20 minutes of exposure.

If schools cannot follow all of the precautions, the guidelines call for more widespread quarantining, including of anyone who was in a room with a sick person for 40 minutes or more. For instance, the guidelines note that it’s not developmentally appropriate for young children to stay in their seats all day, and they may struggle more with mask wearing. 

“This may increase the number of contacts associated with a case in younger grade levels,” the guidance says, meaning that more students would have to quarantine.

The members of the governor’s back-to-school working group are:

Diedre Pilch, superintendent of the Greeley-Evans School District
Leslie Nichols, superintendent of the Gunnison Watershed School District 
Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association
Rebecca Holmes, president and CEO of Colorado Education Initiative
Lisa Larson, Boulder Valley School District paraprofessional
Dee Leyba, La Junta school board member
Rebecca McClellan, State Board of Education member
Catie Santos de la Rosa, Aurora Public Schools educator
Crystal Jennings, Colorado Springs parent
Dan Gehrke, executive director of Lutheran High School in Parker
Mike Miles, CEO of Third Future Schools charter network
Rachel Kaygi, parent and board member of Healthier Colorado
Kelly Grenham, Mapleton Public Schools nurse
Heath Harmon, director of Eagle County Public Health
Tom Gonzales, director of Larimer County Public Health


Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/30/education-quarantine-colorado-covid/



Did you miss our previous article…
https://danpabon.com/6-months-after-eviction-a-denver-woman-asks-yourself-if-shell-ever-have-stable-housing-again/

6 months after eviction a Denver woman asks yourself if shell ever have stable housing again

#aswell?️‍? ?

Colorado News

Despite two weeks of a harsh cough and feeling achy and awful while she was sick with COVID-19, as well as lingering shortness of breath weeks later, contracting the coronavirus in late October is not the worst thing that has happened to Mireya Marquez this year.

Marquez, 39, a transgender woman living in Denver, was evicted from her apartment at the end of May. Marquez is a house painter by training, but has found those jobs hard to come by after transitioning several years ago—and even more so as painting projects have dwindled over the course of the pandemic.

In March, Marquez was working as a stocker at a food company, but left when she felt workers were standing too close together as COVID-19 cases began increasing in Denver. With little money coming in, Marquez came to an agreement with her landlord that had her out of the apartment at the end of May. But she didn’t have enough money to put down a security deposit on a new place.

“Housing is so expensive,” Marquez says in Spanish, via a translator. “How can someone making minimum wage afford it, and what do you do when the jobs go away?”

COVID-19 IN COLORADO

The latest from the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado:

  • LIVE BLOG: The latest on closures, restrictions and other major updates.
  • MAP: Cases and deaths in Colorado.
  • TESTING: Here’s where to find a community testing site. The state is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.
  • STORY: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, his partner test positive for COVID-19

>> FULL COVERAGE

Marquez moved in with friends and pays $600 each month toward the rent. While she tries to fully recover from COVID-19 — she may have contracted the virus in October while working as a restaurant server on weekends, or during a quick trip to see her mother in El Paso, Texas, but isn’t sure —Marquez is staying at another friend’s empty apartment for free. She continues to pay her share of the rent on the other apartment.

Marquez says that losing her own apartment without time to get her footing financially has meant that her dogs — “my babies,” as she calls them — are now living with her mother in El Paso, because her friends wouldn’t allow the pets. Marquez’s mother is also helping her with money for the rent share.

“I’m embarrassed,” says Marquez. “Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I was never behind on my rent and I never had debts.”

It’s unclear how many people have been evicted in Colorado, or who are at risk of eviction. A report issued in October by a special eviction task force appointed by Gov. Jared Polis reported landlord data that 95% of renters were paying monthly rent on time, and delinquencies were up only 2% over pre-pandemic rates.

But the report acknowledged that it did not have data on evictions by smaller landlords, who may rely more heavily on rental income to pay mortgages and may have to initiate evictions sooner than landlords of larger properties. And concerns persist that month-to-month renters—among the most financially vulnerable populations weathering the pandemic—are also not being accurately or fully counted.

The number of financially unstable households since the pandemic began is hard to assess, say advocates. Many people, including Marquez, left their apartments as back rent piled up, and moved in with friends or family; were temporarily helped by federal stimulus checks and extra weekly unemployment money, which ended in July; or are seeing debts pile up during the on-again, off-again state and federal eviction moratoriums.

Natriece Bryant, deputy director in the Office of the Executive Director of Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs, which has jurisdiction for housing assistance, says their office has provided rental assistance funds through nonprofit organizations to more than 10,000 households since the pandemic began.

The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, based in Denver, recently estimated that 345,000 to 436,000 people in Colorado are at risk of eviction, defined as people currently unable to pay their rent.

In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention introduced a nationwide eviction moratorium for individuals making less than $99,000 per year and couples making under $198,000. Yet the directive came with no financial assistance and requires that people sign a declaration that they will continue making efforts to pay their rent.

A Colorado statewide eviction moratorium was lifted in July. In October, Gov. Polis issued a series of executive orders that put in place many of the recommendations of the state eviction task force, including:

  • A directive that builds upon the CDC moratorium — which many tenants knew nothing about, according to advocates like Patrick Noonan, who runs the Colorado Housing Connects hotline for people seeking rent assistance — by requiring that landlords post an eviction notice with details in Spanish and English, and discuss a potential eviction with tenants before initiating proceedings. The state also issued a FAQ for tenants and landlords.
  • Suspension of late fees and interest until Dec. 31, 2020.
  • A 30-day extended period to resolve past-due rent, up from 10 days before the pandemic began, for both commercial and residential eviction proceedings.

Polis extended the orders for 30 days on Nov. 19.

Since March, more than $30 million in CARES Act funding has been directed toward rent relief and other housing assistance in Colorado, according to Bryant. 

“Governor Polis’s new eviction moratorium goes well beyond what the CDC and other states have done, and has helped thousands of people who are facing eviction,” says Zach Neumann, a lawyer who founded and directs the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project. “This will make a big difference and keep families housed through the holidays.”

That said, Neumann points out, “these kinds of legal protections don’t apply to people who were evicted [between moratoriums].”

MORE: Eviction ban or not, Colorado tenants still worry about their rent while landlords struggle to survive

Marquez’s predicament applies. She is sorely disappointed that federal and state protections that might have helped her avoid eviction last spring have only been introduced in the last few weeks. With funds short for her April rent when she lost her job, she asked to pay later in the month, but the landlord shut off her water and began sending threatening text messages.  

Marquez initially moved to a motel, worried for her safety and that of her dogs, and called the Colorado chapter of 9to5 (a Colorado Trust grantee), a national association representing working women. 9to5 Colorado connected her with an attorney, Jason Legg, who works with the organization. Legg is paid for some of his 9to5 legal work through grants the organization receives, but clients — including Marquez — are not charged.

With Legg’s help, Marquez’s agreement with the landlord was negotiated, but before the governor issued the first eviction moratorium in mid-April. Instead, Marquez’s agreement allowed her to stay at the motel, paid for by the landlord through the end of May, but she had to vacate the apartment and her lease was terminated.

At the start of the agreement, “I was sure I’d be making enough money to get my own place, but I just couldn’t find work,” Marquez says, “so I had to move in with my friends.”

Noonan, the program manager for Colorado Housing Connects, a state-funded hotline for people seeking assistance to avoid eviction, says between Jan. 1 and March 15, the hotline averaged close to 300 calls per month. Since March 15 — when the state began shutting down due to the pandemic— and through late October, the number of monthly calls specifically about rental assistance have averaged over 1,100.

Noonan and the other hotline operators direct callers to local nonprofits who have gotten state funding to help with rent relief.

“Until recently, the calls were largely asking about where to find help for their rent—but in the last few weeks, with the CDC moratorium and the governor’s executive orders, it’s become so confusing that people are also calling about that,” Noonan says. “It’s been hard for us to keep up with the changes, let alone the average person out there.”

Noonan says many of the groups will work with clients to “cure” back rent and then help on a month-to-month basis, depending on the availability of funds. Lawyers with the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project also try to negotiate both back and future rent down.  

“We see a mix of old and new clients, some people just one time who need help understanding what they have to do in terms of the moratorium, others who need funds,” Noonan says. While most of their clients are facing eviction, Noonan says they do hear occasionally from people who were evicted previously and are now looking for a place to live.

“We try to problem-solve,” says Noonan. “For example, we tell a person with an eviction on their financial records that they may do better with a smaller landlord who doesn’t have a strict black-and-white policy about who qualifies to rent an apartment.”

With winter approaching and COVID-19 cases on the rise, renters in arrears and housing advocates are all grateful for the eviction moratoriums, but say it’s far from enough.

“The biggest battle between now and the end of the virus will be the huge effort to provide as many people as possible with financial assistance,” says Noonan. “If you are able to pay someone’s rent and stabilize them, they no longer have a legal or financial problem, and it’s a win for the tenant and the landlord. It’s the financial assistance that is the durable solution.”

“I think that to the extent the state has funds that it can use flexibly, more should be spent on housing and people at risk of homelessness should be prioritized,” says Jack Regenbogen, senior attorney for the Colorado Center on Law & Policy, also a Colorado Trust grantee. “This crisis is of never-seen-before proportions that is beyond the scope of nonprofit groups to help all those in need.”

The problem, says Neumann, who is “overall happy” with the recent executive orders, is that the funding falls short by tens of millions. New federal stimulus funding has remained stalled in Congress as of publication.

The governor’s office agrees. “Congress also needs to step up, which is why the governor continues to urge Washington, D.C. to act and pass a real relief package,” says Conor Cahill, the governor’s press secretary, also pointing out that a one-time relief payment of $375 was recently approved to be sent in early December to people currently receiving unemployment benefits. Additionally, the governor called a special session of the state legislature to convene on Nov. 30, specifically to address economic stimulus needs arising from the pandemic.

MORE: Colorado lawmakers will return for special session to address coronavirus relief

Sam Gilman, one of the co-founders of the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project with Neumann, remains concerned about what lies ahead, until a vaccine is widely available and jobs return in full force.

“Winter’s coming, cases are up,” says Gilman. “I’d also urge the governor to extend the eviction moratorium after Dec. 31 to buy renters time for a systemic solution, which is federal rental assistance.”

Legg, Marquez’s attorney, says despite the moratorium, he is still handling eviction cases for a number of reasons: “People often don’t know about the moratorium, and it’s not a blanket protection. You need to use it against the threat of eviction, which can take some knowledge of the executive order, as well as language skills.”

Legg says he has also seen “misconduct by landlords, some of whom have taken advantage of the fact that not everyone renting an apartment who is at risk of eviction knows about the moratorium or have availed themselves of it.”

Sometimes, the first steps of eviction are enough to scare many people into simply leaving their apartment, Legg adds: “I speak to people who, after the first notice, are already on a friend’s couch.”

Marquez recently begun working one day a week at the restaurant that employed her before she contracted the virus, though new restrictions on indoor dining announced on Nov. 17 for Denver and other counties could end that. She also does occasional work for house painting companies, finding jobs posted on Facebook and getting paid by the hour. She no longer takes jobs on her own because she was not paid for some of the work.

“My dream is to get my cosmotology license, but first I have to work on my English,” says Marquez, who is originally from Mexico, has a work permit and plans to apply for a green card in 2021.

But even if Marquez finds stable work, she has little hope of landing an apartment of her own anytime soon.

“Landlords have so many requirements, and you have to make triple the amount of the rent each month,” Marquez says. “For someone like me, it’s impossible to make that kind of money now.

“Every day, I dream of buying my own home, so that no one can evict me.”

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  • Subsidized broadband program speeds up, but customers must upgrade to get the discount
  • Colorado’s I-25 project on “The Gap” combined data, thousands of photos and engineering to minimize roadkill
  • Mullica: We need immunity for COVID-19, not for corporate responsibility

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Subsidized broadband program quicken yet consumers need to upgrade to obtain the discount

#speedboost? ?? ? ? ?

Colorado News

A national low-income broadband program will get a speed boost on Tuesday as new federal requirements go into effect for the Lifeline service.

But not all Lifeline customers will automatically see the upgrade to 25 megabits per second from 20 mbps for fixed broadband service, or an increase to 11.75 gigabytes of data for wireless customers. 

Over at CenturyLink, customers must upgrade to the faster and likely more costly 25 mbps speed or otherwise lose their Lifeline discount. Failure to upgrade on time would result in a slower than 25 mbps service that Lifeline offers and no discount. CenturyLink, which rebranded this year and is now part of Lumen Technologies, is one of the largest telecoms offering internet and phone service in Colorado. 

CenturyLink, now part of Lumen, offers the Lifeline discount to eligible low-income customers. But to meet the federal requirements of offering broadband speeds of at least 25 mbps, the company told customers to upgrade to the faster speed other lose the Lifeline discount. (Screenshot)

“Effective December 1, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) qualification for Lifeline broadband speeds will change from 20M/3M to 25M/3M. Failure to contact CenturyLink, to upgrade your speed, will result in the removal of the Lifeline discount,” notes the company’s website.

Lumen officials won’t say how many customers it has on Lifeline services. And it doesn’t make it easy to see how much faster service costs. According to a Lumen price-check link, 100 mbps service to a home in Denver runs $49 to $65 a month, depending on the promotion. But in Estes Park, a 30 mbps connection is $49. In Montrose, $49 covers the cost of 10 mbps, which would make customers ineligible for the Lifeline discount.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the federal program provides discounts of $9.25 a month to nearly 60,000 Coloradans. The subsidy can be used for telephone, mobile or broadband service.

The Lifeline program, which started in 1985 as a federal telephone service subsidy, has in the past 15 years expanded into mobile and internet service as more people dropped their landlines. Managed by the Universal Service Administrative Co., the FCC-designated nonprofit operates the program on an annual $10 billion budget to fund service for 7.7 million Americans in rural, underserved or difficult-to-reach areas. 

The FCC has increased minimum internet speeds and data requirements annually since at least 2016, when mobile services were required by the program to offer 500 megabytes of data to customers, while fixed broadband companies had to offer 10 mbps download and 1 mbps upload speeds.

As fixed broadband companies like Lumen must now offer speeds of 25 mbps down and 3 mbps up, wireless companies are required to increase data plans to 11.75 GB per month on Dec. 1, up from 3 GB. However, the FCC allowed mobile companies to get a waiver this year to increase the data capacity to just 4.5 GB. 

But a group of wireless providers represented by the National Lifeline Association protested the smaller increase, saying it still hurts “access and affordability.” 

Wireless providers say increasing the amount of data offered isn’t free for them. Last year, when the FCC’s annual increase to Lifeline’s minimum service required wireless companies to increase to 3 GB from 2 GB, some NLA members stopped offering free devices in order to keep the service free.

And so bumping that data capacity up by 50% on Dec. 1 means raising prices, which for some customers will mean going from paying zero to up to $15 a month, the organization said.

Customers “will be forced to switch from their existing free monthly Lifeline broadband, voice and text plans to new mobile broadband plans that require upwards of a $15 monthly co-pay or to free voice plans that include little or no data,” NLA said in a statement. 

The FCC denied NAL’s petition for a stay to the Dec. 1 increase, but NLA has appealed.

With COVID-19 and social distancing, the necessity of reliable broadband has become imperative, especially in school districts where students with inadequate broadband at home often fail to show up for remote learning, and among workers who’ve lost their jobs and cannot access online job searches from home.

But many eligible Coloradans fail to take advantage of the Lifeline discount, said Laura Ware, who is working on digital literacy issues for the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. 

That’s because of digital divide issues that remain in rural communities where internet infrastructure is subpar, and in urban communities where broadband service is too costly.

“The connectivity is poor or non-existent sometimes,” Ware said. “The infrastructure may be there but the connectivity … going into the home is low speed or intermittent.”

Ware reviewed broadband options for shelters and affordable housing sites in the metro Denver area and found that Lifeline consumers typically used it for phone service. 

In fact, according to data from the USAC, only 12.6% of eligible Coloradans took advantage of the program this year, and 14% of eligible Colorado households are projected to participate next year.

Ware said most low-income consumers are using cheaper alternatives aimed at low-income households, such as Comcast’s Internet Essentials, which is $9.95 a month. Comcast also upgraded all speeds to 25 mbps when the coronavirus pandemic worsened in March.

T-Mobile, which offers Lifeline through Assurance Wireless, recently launched its Project 10Million to help school districts nationwide provide better remote learning services for its students. In Colorado, T-Mobile is providing free mobile hotspots and up to 100 GB of broadband data to 34,000 low-income families. It was part of a renegotiated deal with the Colorado Attorney General’s office originally made last year to allow T-Mobile’s $26 billion merger with Sprint. 

But even with other options available, if customers who rely on the Lifeline discount for broadband service don’t upgrade and thus lose their discount, that’s going to be critical for them, especially during the pandemic, Ware said. 

“While we’re in COVID, any increased cost for essential services, like access to phone and internet, would be a concern,” Ware said. “Losing access to this essential service has become so important, not only because of COVID but because of our society’s reliance on digital technology. I think it’s so much bigger than COVID.”

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  • Six months after eviction, a Denver woman wonders if she’ll ever have stable housing again
  • Subsidized broadband program speeds up, but customers must upgrade to get the discount
  • Colorado’s I-25 project on “The Gap” combined data, thousands of photos and engineering to minimize roadkill
  • Mullica: We need immunity for COVID-19, not for corporate responsibility

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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/30/subsidized-broadband-lifeline-digital-divide-centurylink/



For every one of NFL COVID quits technique Monday and Tuesday

#onmonday? ? ? ? ? ?

get headlines https://thecherrycreeknews.com

The NFL has ordered its teams to shut down all in-person team activities on Monday and Tuesday in a memo from league commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on Friday evening.

Get more news at newshub247.com

A memo from the NFL to teams lists concerns about an increasing COVID-19 positivity rate across the country and an understanding that many players and staff members celebrated Thanksgiving with guests from out-of-town. Medical authorities have widely feared a post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 case spike.
The NFL stopped short of having the shutdown apply to games and practices. All games Sunday, the day before the shutdown, will proceed, as will Monday night’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles and Tuesday’s Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
“All activities must be conducted virtually [on Monday and Tuesday], with the exception of essential medical treatment and rehabilitation under the supervision of a team physician or athletic trainer,” Goodell wrote. “Medical staff and players must continue to comply with the rules outlined in the intensive protocol. Further, players and staff should be reminded that gatherings of any sort outside of the facility are prohibited.”
The League appears to be gambling any player or staff member who caught COVID-19 on Thanksgiving won’t become infectious until Monday, unless they’re playing on Monday night or in a game rescheduled from Thanksgiving due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

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via Straight News https://northdenvernews.com/for-all-of-nfl-covid-stops-practice-monday-and-tuesday/



Did you miss our previous article…
https://danpabon.com/state-lawmaker-in-wheelchair-places-colorado-capitol-gain-access-to-in-spotlight/

State lawmaker in wheelchair places Colorado Capitol gain access to in spotlight

#firststate? ? ?? ?

Colorado News

By Bente Birkeland, Colorado Public Radio

Soon Colorado will get its first state lawmaker known to use a wheelchair. Democrat David Ortiz was elected by voters in south Metro Denver and will be sworn into office in January. But the Capitol building, where he’ll work and where he’s supposed to interact with his colleagues and the people he serves, is not fully accessible to him.

His election has jumpstarted some changes to the 130-year-old building that some say are long overdue.

“Obviously the most urgent thing was to make sure I could at least do my job,” Ortiz said.

The former aviator survived a catastrophic helicopter crash eight years ago while serving in Afghanistan. The U.S. Army veteran lives in Littleton, and the accident left him without sensation or muscle control below his waist.

David Ortiz. (Handout)

While the state Capitol is officially accessible to people with disabilities, it isn’t feasible to get around every part of the building in a wheelchair. There are only steps to get into the Senate and House chambers, and steps on the aisles inside the House that made it impossible for a person in a wheelchair to get to any of the lawmakers’ desks. To prepare for Ortiz, ramps have been installed and crews put in a new electronic door so Ortiz will enter the chamber through a break room and reach his desk by going up two ramps.

Clerk of the State House Robin Jones said they have modified Ortiz’s desk so he can fit his wheelchair underneath, and are modifying some of the committee room doors so they’re easier to open. The total cost of the updates is around $30,000.

Ortiz hopes the changes to accommodate him are just the beginning of a journey to make his fellow lawmakers and their staff more accessible to all Coloradans.

“For me, the long term goal is making sure that entire building is truly the people’s house for anybody living with a disability,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans lives with a disability. But Ortiz said before his accident that wasn’t on his radar.

“Unless you have family, friends, or until you live that way yourself, it’s hard to imagine the many different ways that the world isn’t accessible to you,” he said.

A lack of accessibility has created obstacles for people who want to interact with their government. Chris Hinds, who uses a wheelchair, remembers lobbying in the Capitol when a lift was broken throughout the legislative session, so he couldn’t go up the stairs to talk to lawmakers where they gathered with other lobbyists outside of the House and Senate. He noted that accessibility wasn’t a big consideration when the building was constructed.

“There are ways to balance the historic preservation and the celebration of our past with the celebration of everyone today,” Hinds said.

Today, Hinds is a city councilman in Denver and his presence in the city’s official buildings has led to changes there, too. Hinds is a paraplegic after he was involved in a car crash in 2008. When he was elected, he told Denver city and county leaders things had to change.

“I would say, ‘There are 13 members of city council, 12 of them are up on the dias, and one member of council is out in the audience because there’s no accessibility.’”

Hinds said he’s glad the city added ramps, made changes to his office and remodeled the bathroom to make it wheelchair accessible.

“And so it wasn’t just ‘let’s make sure that he can get to his desk.’ In some ways, I understand that they waited until someone was elected before making the city council chambers wheelchair accessible, but City Hall has been open to the people for a long time and that restroom should have been accessible long ago.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis delivers his second state of the state address in the Colorado House chambers at the state Capitol on January 9, 2020 in Denver. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

The Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration is looking into improving access not just for the Capitol but in other state buildings and parking structures. Department of Personnel and Administration spokesman Doug Platt said the state discovered accessibility was an issue as they were doing different restoration projects on government buildings in recent years.

“It’s more than just identifying (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance issues, it’s prioritizing them, how significant are they?” The study began in 2018 and Platt expects it to finish in the fall of 2021. “It’s going to be an incredibly robust study. That’s why it takes so long. We’re talking about a very detailed analysis and prioritization of projects.”

According to a 2019 survey from the National Conference of State Legislatures, seven states said they have made physical modifications to their Capitol buildings in recent years to help lawmakers with disabilities participate in the legislative process, like raising the height of committee desks, adding automatic doors, and a customized braille board in Washington state.

Colorado’s not the only state where it took electing someone in a wheelchair to galvanize efforts to improve access for others. Arizona said it has completed extensive renovations after Democratic Rep. Jennifer Longdon won office two years ago. The state relocated desks, added electronic doors, remodeled bathrooms and added a cable sound system that cuts out background noise to help people who use hearing aids.

Longdon said the renovations are a vast improvement and remembers when Arizona’s Capitol had only one wheelchair accessible bathroom.

“There was another one that was supposed to be accessible and I was visiting and tried to use it and ended up breaking my hand because it was just too narrow. How often do you expect to, you know, break a body part, trying to get into a restroom?”

Longdon said she was keeping track of Ortiz’s election victory in Colorado. She describes state lawmakers with physical disabilities as kind of like unicorns because they’re so rare; she said there are only a handful out of more than 7,000 state lawmakers across the country.

“Because of that, I think that this community, the disability community, which is the largest minority population in our nation, really gets woefully underrepresented.”

Last summer, as Ortiz campaigned for office, lawmakers started to focus on how he would be able to access the chamber if he won. Republican House Minority Leader Hugh McKean was instrumental in facilitating the updates. He credits Hinds and Ortiz for helping him look at accessibility through a broader lens. McKean said the ultimate goal is not to do the minimum requirements but to truly embody the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It’s the freedom of movement that we really aren’t that conscious of. And so it’s not just to get to one specific place, it’s to be able to access the chamber or the building in many ways, just like the rest of us and at the same kind of ease,” Rep. McKean said.

But it will take more updates before Ortiz has the same access to the chamber as other lawmakers. He won’t be able to freely move around the perimeter of the House or go to other lawmakers’ desks, where informal conversations on bills often occur. And several steps still block his way up to the speaker’s podium. Since there’s not a ramp, when it’s his turn to preside over the House floor, six staffers will step in to lift him to the podium in his wheelchair.

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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis his husband test favorable for COVID-19

#saturdaynight? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?‍?‍?‍?

Colorado News

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and his husband, Marlon Reis, have tested positive for COVID-19.

The pair announced their diagnosis on Saturday night. The governor’s office says both are asymptomatic and isolating in their home.

“Marlon and I are feeling well so far, and are in good spirits,” the governor said in a written statement. “No person or family is immune to this virus.”

Polis, 45, on Wednesday announced that he was entering quarantine after being exposed to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Conor Cahill, a spokesman for the governor, declined to answer questions about whether Polis was exposed to the person in his official capacity or outside of his work as governor.

“He is following CDC and (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) guidelines,” Cahill said on Friday.

The governor’s office also declined to say what day Polis was exposed to the person.

Polis, a Democrat who entered office in January 2019, last held a briefing with reporters on the coronavirus crisis on Tuesday. He held a video briefing with the media on Wednesday.

The governor’s office says Polis will be closely monitored and continue to fulfill his duties and responsibilities through remote work.

Polis has believed for months that he would likely contract COVID-19.

“I think it’s certainly possible that I will (catch coronavirus) and likely that I will,” he said in an April 1 interview with CBS4 and The Colorado Sun. “Many Coloradans will.”

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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  • State lawmaker in wheelchair puts Colorado Capitol access in spotlight
  • What’s Working: Why nearly 100,000 out-of-work Coloradans were excluded from an unemployment benefit that is now ending early
  • Author Lori Hodges built her first novel around family genealogy — plus her dog’s bouts with a porcupine
  • In “Sweet Twisted Pine,” a man on a quest to find his missing sister struggles to adapt to the Old West

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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/28/jared-polis-coronavirus-colorado/