Key Takeaway: Coloradans brace for fiscal fallout as federal $600 weekly unemployment aid ends.
Congress is debating whether to extend, reduce or replace the weekly $600 unemployment benefit that was part of a federal coronavirus relief package. And while the debate continues, the money has run out.Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans will keep getting their standard unemployment benefit from the state. But the extra $600 that has helped people pay the bills, cover the rent or mortgage and buy groceries ended on Saturday.
Coronavirus In Colorado; The Numbers: According to today's data release, in Colorado there have been 497,265 people tested, 44,565 positive cases, 6,271 hospitalized, 1,799 deaths among cases (1,668 deaths due to COVID), 457 outbreaks at residential and non- hospital health care facilities, 63 of 64 counties with positive cases. In Adams County we have 5,626 cases and 167 deaths. More from CDPHE here.
Governor Polis Takes Action To Address COVID-19: Governor Jared Polis extended Executive Orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor signed an Executive Order directing the Colorado Department of Human Services to access federal funds for child care services. The Governor also signed Executive Order D 2020 146, extending the ability for Coloradans to continue getting marriage licenses while clerk and recorder offices are closed. He also extended orders suspending certain regulatory statutes due to COVID-19, and concerning petition collection for unaffiliated and independent candidates. More from Governor Jared Polis here.
Colorado Workers Infected With Coronavirus Face Uphill Battle To Claim Workers’ Compensation Benefits: Workers across Colorado are facing an uphill battle to claim workers’ compensation benefits on the grounds they were infected with the novel coronavirus at work. State law places the burden on the worker to show that they were infected on the job and not somewhere else — and that can be tricky to prove in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic, experts told the Denver Post. More from The Denver Post here.
Coloradans Brace For Fiscal Fallout As Federal $600 Weekly Unemployment Aid Ends: Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans will keep getting their standard unemployment benefit from the state. But the extra $600 that has helped people pay the bills, cover the rent or mortgage and buy groceries ended on Saturday. Even if lawmakers resolve their differences soon — maybe even this week — over new spending and additional federal help for people out of work, there will be a lag while state labor departments reprogram their systems. That could take days or weeks, depending on how complicated the change is. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment estimates that roughly 330,000 Coloradans were receiving the $600 a week on top of regular unemployment benefits. The self-employed, gig workers and independent contractors, who receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, also were able to draw the enhanced benefit. More from The Denver Post here.
A Busy Summer Is Pulling Colorado’s Resort Communities Out Of The Coronavirus Downturn. But Will It Last?: High-country resort communities that rely on spending from visitors are seeing a rebound in sales tax collections in June and July, but it’s not likely the crowds will be enough to erase losses in March and April. The declines in March and April were devastating, with most ski-resort anchored communities enduring 50% drops in sales tax harvests as resorts closed and visitation evaporated. Town councils in May slashed budgets but near-normal summer crowds are floating revenues above the spring’s dire projections. Still, the murky horizon for the upcoming ski season is leaving most local leaders nervous and ready for more cuts. This year will mark the end of an unprecedented run for Colorado’s resort communities, which have logged record sales-tax harvests for several consecutive years. A Colorado Sun review of taxable sales in 13 ski towns show visitors spending about $500 million in the final two months of the ski season. More from The Colorado Sun here.
Colorado's Outdoor-Exploration Businesses See Boom Even During Summer Of Travel-Industry Bust: Shortly after the onset of coronavirus, it appeared that 2020 would be the year from hell for travel-industry companies — and for many, from hotels to group travel guides, it is proving to be just that. But for a particular segment — namely, those companies that facilitate individuals getting out into uncrowded natural areas — this summer has instead proved to be an unexpected gold mine. Companies that sell RVs, rent multi-day camping vehicles and even plot hiking and biking courses off the beaten path are seeing booming interest and increased sales. More from Denver Business Journal here.
Rogue County Meets Rogue Event, Or How Thousands Showed Up For A Concert And No Masks Required: What happens when a rogue county meets a rogue event? On Sunday, on a private farm in southeast Weld County near Hudson, thousands gathered for a concert and Mexican bull-riding competition, no masks or social distancing required. And no permit required, either. Unlike Jefferson County, which ordered Bandimere Speedway to obey county orders for event sizes, or Teller County, where a recent cease-and-desist order was issued by the Attorney General for a four-day event, Weld County is taking little interest in what’s going on at this County Road 37 farm. The event promoter has already gotten into trouble this year for hosting a similar event in Elbert County a month ago that resulted in a COVID-19 outbreak and sent at least one person to the hospital. Carlos Barkleys of Vail hosts Mexican rodeos and concerts on private property all over Colorado. That happened last month, when Barkleys' Mexican rodeo/concert, held in Agate, drew an estimated 2,000 people, according to Elbert County Public Health. The event Sunday originally listed an address in Weld County that didn’t exist, according to county assessor records. On Saturday, the address was changed to a 35-acre farm and on Sunday to a different address on County Road 37. More from Colorado Politics here.
Cases Quadruple In Six Weeks Amid New Event Concerns: According to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, COVID-19 cases in the state have more than quadrupled in less than six weeks. Meanwhile, a rodeo and concert in Weld County on Sunday, July 26, at which mask use and social distancing were rare commodities, highlighted continuing concerns about large events and the conflicts between Governor Jared Polis and local officials with differing views about balancing safety and personal freedom. More from Westword here.
Coronavirus Makes New US Citizens Trade Courthouse Ceremony For Parking Lot: Shutdowns and furloughs at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services mean longer wait times for applicants looking to become citizens. Immigration lawyer Beatriz Lynch said her clients’ progress through the immigration system is taking two to three times longer these days, she said. “Some of them have waited years to finally have their interview and get their green cards or become citizens and it’s taking a lot longer,” Lynch said. “So you can understand that it’s already a hard enough time and to have this on top, it’s frustrating.” The USCIS Denver Field office is open after being closed for almost three months due to the pandemic. Dozens of naturalization ceremonies were postponed. Now, those ceremonies look much different. More from CPR here.
RTD Updates Policy On Symptom Screenings In Wake Of Health Department Visit: The Regional Transportation District has formalized a policy for employees to self-assess and report any COVID-19 symptoms prior to reporting to work. The change came nearly two weeks after a Denver health investigator found no evidence that RTD was following state guidelines at one of its facilities. “We have had this process in place since the beginning of the pandemic in the state,” said Christine L. Jaquez, a spokesperson for the transit agency. “It was recently formalized after conversations with Denver health officials on how to address daily screenings in a way that is practicable due to our unique operations.” The policy, adopted on July 23, instructs employees to assess themselves for 11 possible COVID-19 symptoms, including a temperature above 100 degrees, sore throat and nausea. If employees experience any symptoms, they are to avoid the workplace, contact their manager and request advice from their health provider. More from Colorado Politics here.
Colorado Resort Towns See Flood Of Second-Home Buyers, Burst In School Enrollment: Urbanites fleeing cities for homes in the hills are pulling mountain resort real estate out of a pandemic slump. Inventories are dwindling, prices are soaring and resort-town schools are seeing enrollment climb as second-home owners and newcomers settle in places like Steamboat Springs, Vail, Crested Butte, Telluride and Aspen. The booming mountain market reflects a national trend showing a huge spike in sales in June, snapping a three-month decline. Dwindling inventories and tumbling mortgage rates drove a 21% increase in home sales in June compared with the previous month, according to the monthly summary released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors. And housing experts expect the trend to continue, pointing to rising mortgage applications and steadily increasing prices. More from The Colorado Sun here.
Douglas County Schools Plan On Hybrid Schedule To Reopen Amid Rising Cases of Coronavirus: Colorado’s third-largest school district is planning to start the year on a hybrid schedule. The nearly 68,000 Douglas County School District RE-1 students will spend two days at the school for in-person learning and three days at home for remote learning. Cases of COVID-19 are rising in the county, so principals, teachers and health officials were wary of a wholesale return to school. Under the hybrid schedule, students will be organized into rotating cohorts, which would keep a group of students and staff together throughout the school year. The goal is to limit exposure to other students and staff -- and help officials track any potential spread of the virus and if there is an outbreak. More from CPR here.
What Does Colorado’s Mask Requirement Mean For Your Next Workout?: A week after Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide mask order in hopes of tamping down a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued guidance Thursday intended to clarify how it applies to working out in gyms. The only reference to gyms in the mask mandate that was issued July 16 came in a line that exempted “individuals who are exercising alone or with others from the individual’s household and a face covering would interfere with the activity.” More from The Denver Post here.
Denver International Airport CFO To Resign Aug. 10: Denver International Airport’s chief financial officer will step down next month, airport officials confirmed Monday. Gisela Shanahan is resigning on Aug. 10 “for personal reasons and to spend more time with her grandchildren,” DIA spokesperson Alex Renteria wrote in an email. Details regarding Shanahan’s interim replacement and the process to replace her permanently have not yet been disclosed. More from Colorado Politics here.
Washington Bids Farewell To Civil Rights Icon John Lewis: Capitol Hill said goodbye to the Conscience of the Congress on Monday. Rep. John Lewis arrived for a final time Monday afternoon at the Capitol, where he will lie in state for two days, one of the last stops for the civil rights icon who long ago transcended politics to become an American hero. Lewis, who died July 17 at age 80 after being diagnosed with cancer, will lie in state in the Georgia Capitol on Wednesday before being buried in a private funeral in Atlanta on Thursday. Lewis, the son of tenant farmers from rural Alabama who was nearly beaten to death by state troopers while marching for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, went on to serve more than three decades in Congress and never tired of engaging in the “good trouble” he so often urged Americans to find. Lewis is only the second Black lawmaker to lie in state at the Capitol, following the late Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who was honored in Statuary Hall last year. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senior lawmakers participated in an invitation-only ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda to remember Lewis for his leadership in the civil rights movement and 33-year career in Congress. More from Politico here.
John Lewis To Be Honored By Biden, Lawmakers And The Public As He Lies In State At The Capitol: The body of the late congressman John Lewis made a final journey Monday to the capital’s civil rights landmarks, pausing at the Martin Luther King Jr. and Lincoln memorials, before he lies in state at the same spot in the Capitol as presidents and other national leaders. The motorcade took the casket of Lewis (D-Ga.) past the Lincoln Memorial, where he was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, and the newly minted Black Lives Matter Plaza outside the White House, where the civil rights icon made his last public appearance in early June. As “Amazing Grace” could be heard, the hearse paused at the plaza. Lewis, who was diagnosed in late December with pancreatic cancer, died July 17. More from The Washington Post here.
Senate GOP Begins Releasing COVID Proposal Amid Internal Divisions: Senate Republicans began to release their coronavirus relief proposal Monday afternoon, setting off what could be weeks of political battles with Democrats over unemployment insurance, state and local aid and liability protection for businesses and schools as the pandemic continues to batter the U.S. economy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) outlined the pillars of the proposal, which will include another round of $1,200 in direct payments, more money for the Paycheck Protection Program, a reduction in boosted federal unemployment benefits, liability protection and more than $100 billion for reopening schools and colleges. With the introduction of the GOP proposal, talks with Democrats will begin in earnest. More from Politico here.
GOP, White House Aim To Temporarily Reduce Weekly Unemployment Benefit From $600 To $200: Senate Republicans will propose cutting weekly emergency unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 until states can bring a more complicated program online, according to two people familiar with the plan granted anonymity to share details that had not yet been released. The proposal will come as part of a broader $1 trillion relief bill aimed at dealing with the economic fallout caused by the novel coronavirus. Republicans plan to release the legislation later on Monday and start negotiations with Democrats. The $600 weekly jobless benefit expires in a few days, and House Democrats have proposed extending it until January because the unemployment rate remains very high. More from The Washington Post here.
Stimulus Negotiations- GOP's $1 Trillion Opening Bid Would Cut Unemployment Benefits: Senate Republicans, after days of delays and struggles to line up with the White House, are set to release their $1 trillion coronavirus relief package Monday afternoon, which includes a cut of $400 to the enhanced unemployment benefit for Americans out of work from the COVID-19 crisis. To give a sense of the optimism on the GOP side right now, White House officials spent much of the weekend floating a less ambitious Plan B option -- before their Plan A even sees the light of day. The Senate Republican proposal will sit around $1 trillion and include $105 billion for schools, a second round of direct payments to individuals and families, $16 billion in new money for testing, a second, more targeted round of forgivable small business loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, a myriad of tax incentives for employers to rehire, retain and retrofit their offices for employees. It will also include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's redline: liability protections for businesses, schools, hospitals and non-profits. More from CNN here.
Economic Relief Talks To Ramp Up Monday As Democrats, White House Agree To Sit Down: Top Democrats and the White House plan to meet Monday evening as they rush to begin negotiations over an economic relief bill aimed at addressing fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, bumping up against a tight deadline before expanded jobless aid expires later this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) plan to meet at 6 p.m. with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to begin formal talks. Negotiations were delayed because Democrats were waiting for the White House and Senate Republicans to unify behind a single plan, something that was expected to be released on Monday afternoon. The White House and Senate Republican plan is expected to call for around $1 trillion in new spending, while the House Democrats have coalesced around a $3 trillion plan they passed in May. Pelosi earlier on Monday criticized Republicans for waiting so long to begin negotiations, saying “children are hungry, families cannot pay the rent, unemployment is expiring and the Republicans want to pause again and go piecemeal.” More from The Washington Post here.
Small Businesses Are Drowning In Coronavirus Expenses: Expenses are piling up for cash-strapped small businesses as they invest in what it takes to lure customers and workers back into shops: fancy air filters, plexiglass shields, and stockpiles of PPE. Why it matters: Some small business owners are spending the equivalent of a month's worth of profit on precautionary equipment — even as they question whether it's worth it as the threat of more lockdowns loom. What's going on: Nationally, many businesses are taking steps forward — doling out cash to retrofit restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores and other establishments. But they're simultaneously preparing to take steps back — or to close for good — if cases spike again. More from Axios here.
First Phase 3 Test Of Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate Begins In US: An investigational vaccine developed by drugmaker Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases began phase three trials on Monday, becoming the first U.S. candidate to reach that step in testing. About 30,000 adult volunteers are set to be enrolled in the trial, according to CNN, which added that the first patient was dosed at a site in Savannah, Ga. A trial group will receive two 100 microgram injections of the candidate while a control group receives a placebo, both about four weeks apart, the network noted. More from The Hill here.
It's Not Over When The Vaccine Arrives: The first coronavirus vaccine may arrive soon, but it’s unlikely to be the knockout punch you may be hoping for. Why it matters: The end of this global pandemic almost certainly rests with a vaccine. Experts caution, however, that it’s important to have realistic expectations about how much the first vaccines across the finish line will — and won’t — be able to accomplish. Where it stands: Work on a coronavirus vaccine is moving at an unprecedented pace. There are nearly 200 candidates in development, 27 are being tested in humans and a handful are already in an advanced phase of clinical trials. More from Axios here.
How To Test More People For Coronavirus Without Actually Needing More Tests: Americans are waiting longer to get their coronavirus test results, with major labs reporting turnaround times as long as two weeks. Testing capacity has failed to keep pace with increased demand, but public health researchers think they have a way to quickly and sharply increase capacity in many states. Instead of running a test for each person, laboratories could pool together tests from small groups of people and analyze them all at once. Because 98.9 percent of people now taking tests in New York State don’t have coronavirus, most of those pooled tests would come back negative. For the ones that come back positive, tests could be rerun one at a time with unused portions of the original samples, achieving the same results using fewer resources. More from The New York Times here.
Lawmakers From Both Parties Seek Greater Vaccine Oversight: As the first U.S.-developed coronavirus vaccine reaches a critical stage in the trial process, a bipartisan group of lawmakers asked a watchdog to keep closer tabs on the Trump administration's multi-billion plan to develop and distribute a vaccine by early next year. On Friday, Reps. James Clyburn, D-S.C., chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Bill Foster, D-Ill., and Mark Green, R-Tenn., asked the Government Accountability Office for periodic reviews of “Operation Warp Speed,” the public-private effort launched by the administration in May to develop, manufacture and distribute 300 million doses of vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021. The operation is led by Moncef Slaoui, an immunologist and former pharmaceutical executive, and Gen. Gus Perna, commanding general of the Army Materiel Command. More from Government Executive here.
Google To Keep Employees Home Until Summer 2021 Amid Coronavirus Pandemic: Google will keep its employees home until at least next July, making the search-engine giant the first major U.S. corporation to formalize such an extended timetable in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The move will affect nearly all of the roughly 200,000 full-time and contract employees across Google parent Alphabet Inc., GOOG 1.21% and is sure to pressure other technology giants that have slated staff to return as soon as January. Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai made the decision himself last week after debate among Google Leads, an internal group of top executives that he chairs, according to a person familiar with the matter. A small number of Google staffers were notified later in the week, people familiar said. More from The Wall Street Journal here.
Trump Administration Sending More Federal Agents To Reinforce Portland Courthouse: The Trump administration is sending more federal agents to Portland, Ore., as officials consider pushing back harder and farther against the growing crowds and nightly clashes with protesters, vandals and rioters, The Washington Post has learned. To strengthen federal forces arrayed around the city’s downtown courthouse, the U.S. Marshals Service decided last week to send 100 deputy U.S. Marshals to Portland, according to an internal Marshals email reviewed by The Post. The personnel began arriving Thursday night, the email says. More from The Washington Post here.
Robert O'Brien, Trump's National Security Adviser, Tests Positive For Coronavirus: President Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien has tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House announced on Monday. "National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien tested positive for COVID-19. He has mild symptoms and has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off-site. There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president. The work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted," the White House said in a statement. No further details were immediately available. President Trump told reporters at the White House that he had not had any recent contact with the 54-year-old O'Brien. "I haven't seen him lately," Trump said. "I'm calling him later." More from NPR here.
100 Days Out, Parties Fear Chaotic Election: A little more than three months before November’s election, partisans who back both President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are growing anxious over what they see as the mounting potential for a chaotic contest marred by disenfranchised voters, administration errors and mountains of litigation. The new anxiety comes on top of the typical nerves that plague campaign operatives. Republicans are increasingly concerned that Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the attending economic crisis has put off so many voters that his path to reelection is narrowing precipitously. Democrats are almost universally convinced that Biden’s polling lead is a mirage, a potential repeat of the 2016 calamity they did not see coming. But a series of quieter developments have people on both sides nervous that Election Day may bring a host of its own unpredictable disasters. More from The Hill here.
Inside 100 Days To The Presidential Election, 9 Things That Could Change The Race: With less than 100 days until Election Day, here's where things stand: Joe Biden has the clear advantage — for now. With a majority of Americans disapproving of the way President Trump is handling the coronavirus pandemic, Biden has jumped to an 8-point lead in an average of the national polls. That's double what his advantage was at the end of February, and the presumptive Democratic nominee is at or near 50% in many surveys. Problematically for the president, the coronavirus isn't going away and that threatens his prospects heading into the fall. But Biden's advantage in those national surveys has come largely from a drop in Trump's support rather than a big increase in the percentage of people saying they would vote for Biden. The Biden campaign has been saying for months during this surge that it expects the race to tighten, and no one should be surprised if it does. But a lot can happen between now and November. Here are nine things to keep an eye on that can change the dynamics of the race. More from NPR here.
How The Pandemic Could Force A Generation Of Mothers Out Of The Workforce: From FiveThirtyEight, "For the past few months, Alicia Wertz has barely seen her husband. Since schools closed in their northern Alabama town in March, they’ve been single-mindedly focused on a single goal: making sure that someone was watching their three kids. At first, Wertz tried working from home. But she wasn’t getting anything done, so they tried splitting the hours: Wertz’s husband watches the children in the morning, then a sitter comes to relieve him in the afternoon until Wertz takes over when she returns from work. Wertz isn’t the only working mother for whom the thought of the fall calendar sparks both relief and dread. And what comes next could have disproportionate — and long-lasting — effects on the careers of countless women across the country. Studies have shown that women already shoulder much of the burden of caring for and educating their children at home; now, they’re also more likely than men to have lost their jobs thanks to the pandemic. And the collapse of the child care and public education infrastructure that so many parents rely on will only magnify these problems, even pushing some women out of the labor force entirely. “We’re in danger of erasing the limited gains we’ve made for women over the past few decades, and especially women of color,” said Melissa Boteach, Vice President for Income Security and Child Care/Early Learning at the National Women’s Law Center." More from FiveThirtyEight here.
Here's How Back To School Might Look In The New Normal: The students are met at the school door with a thermometer and a health quiz, answering questions like "Are you feeling sick today?" Once they pass this quiz, the students in this summer enrichment program outside St. Louis proceed to folding chairs spread 10 feet apart across the gymnasium to eat breakfast alone. Eating so far from friends has been "not great" for Jada Randle. "It's boring. You just have to sit away from people," said the 10-year-old. Jennings School District, which educates about 2,500 students just north of St. Louis, is using this summer program to test an in-person school model that it will roll out for the entire district next month. The program highlights the challenges that lie ahead for schools as they try to safely reopen amid a raging pandemic. More from NPR here.
The Pandemic Is Widening Educational Inequality: Even before the pandemic sent pupils packing, there was a large gap in achievement between rich and poor students. In Britain in 2018, for example, children from disadvantaged backgrounds were twice as likely to leave school without basic qualifications in English and maths as their wealthier peers. After months of coronavirus-induced school closures, that gap has no doubt grown even wider. With kids banned from classrooms, most learning has moved online. The shift has been easier for some than for others. In Britain, nearly two-thirds of private schools already had platforms for online learning in place, compared with just a quarter of the most poorly funded state schools, according to the Sutton Trust, a charity. Well-off children, meanwhile, are far more likely to have access to the necessary kit, including laptops and reliable broadband internet access. To reach the learning materials provided, many poorer ones have to compete with other family members for access to a sole laptop, or use their smartphones. Some have to forgo lessons entirely. This is a problem for rich and poor countries alike. America’s education department reckons that nearly one in eight children do not have internet access via a desktop or laptop at home. More from The Economist here.
The Future Of Our Food Supply: If the early days of grocery shopping during coronavirus are remembered for empty shelves and flour hoarding, our present-day food system might be characterized by lines. Lines are a symbol of the burdens of the pandemic, as more people wind down blocks waiting for food aid. They’re also a sign of our adaptation, with socially distanced queues of people waiting to enter stores, and separate check-outs for delivery workers buying groceries on behalf of somebody else. How we get our groceries is a visible stand-in for a food system in flux. As with so many things, we’re confronting pre-existing problems that have only been exacerbated by coronavirus, from food accessibility and affordability, to supporting local food suppliers, to improving conditions for the food workforce. More from CityLab here.
First Came The Virus. Next Come The Storms: In March, as the country watched a strange new disease spread from coast to coast, leading researchers at Colorado State University released their annual forecast for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. Their predictions were not comforting: an “above average” season, with an estimated four major storms (Category 3 or higher) and a nearly 70 percent chance that at least one of those major storms strikes the U.S. coast. Responding to a major storm amid an ongoing pandemic would present huge challenges. Emergency managers across the Atlantic coast, already engaged in the fight to contain the novel coronavirus, have had to reimagine nearly every aspect of their traditional hurricane-response plans before the season begins on June 1. They must then find some way to communicate these new protocols to an overwhelmed and fearful public. And they must accomplish these feats under more strain than ever before. More from The Atlantic here.