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Hey, #Boulder. It's city council meeting night, which means I finally know what day of the week it is. Otherwise I might lose touch.
I've looked through the presentations for tonight's topics and it's going to be an interesting one. We've got a discussion (maybe vote) on 20 is Plenty, a movement to lower speed limits on residential streets to 20 mph.
And a discussion (Part 1 of 2) on moving petitions online bc of COVID. At least one circulator has an issue with staff's proposed rules. More on that later.
The COVID update that will start this meeting is also REALLY interesting.

We finally have racial/ethnicity data: This is for Latinx. Bars represent, L-R: Share of BoCo population; share of COVID cases; share of hospitalizations and share of deaths.
So you'll see that, even tho Hispanics/Latinx make up 13.8% of our population, they are being harder hit with COVID though not as likely to die from it as non-Hispanic people, shown in this chart:
The only other racial group with data is Asian Americans, who are not being disproportionately affected.
Back to deaths. You'll notice that, although Hispanics are contracting and being hospitalized disproportionately, they are not making up a greater share of deaths.

That's because 17 of Boulder County's 20 deaths are from long-term care facilities, according to data.
That's something new I hadn't seen yet. Find it in the presentation here, slide 3:…
That's 85% of all deaths. Much higher than the state as a whole.…
Caveat: We're obviously dealing with a really small dataset compared to the state.
365 overall cases
94 hospitalized, to date
163 recovered
61 investigations ongoing
86 of the 365 cases are in long-term care facilities
So, 86 cases and 17 deaths = Nearly 1 in 5 residents dying.

Perhaps not surprising given age and other head considerations but still... wow. Somewhat overwhelming to think about. At least for me.
There's also quite a bit in today's presentation about plans to reopen the economy, slowly. Boulder County is following the governor's lead on this.
I'm hearing in the Zoom that there may be add'l info shared today beyond what Polis announced yesterday. Mayors had a call today about it, apparently.
A bit late getting started. Any minute now..
A windows update is to blame, apparently.
Engagement Manager Sarah Huntley going over the change in platform. We're in a Zoom webinar, which means that the open comment speakers and press are in the meeting but we don't have video capability.
One of the agenda items tonight is an update to council rules to reflect virtual meetings and public participation.

Apparently there were some bad actors at the Thursday council chat. I missed it. Anyone wanna spill the tea?
Boulder's new police chief, Maris Herold, is on the meeting tonight. She's from Cincinnati, I believe.
She brings both city and college experience, City Manager Jane Brautigam says, "which is great" for Boulder.

Also has done some equity work, so she's the perfect candidate for this time, Brautigam says.
"It's a very strange time to start a new position," Herold says. "I think I have all the tools in place to ... mimic the Boulder reputation ... for being innovative and progressive. That's been my background..."
"I'm so happy to be here finally."
You know what else is in Cincinnati? This statue that Mussolini gave the city in 1929:…

It's... disturbing, to say the least.
Today's COVID briefing is from Susan Motika, Boulder County Director of Health Systems, Policy & Strategic Initiatives
Jeff Zayach, who normally does these, couldn't be here.
Motika is his right-hand person, apparently.
If you're experiencing radio silence on the livestream, don't worry: It's still working. They just can't figure out how to unmute Motika, apparently.
OK we're going to skip Motika and Dr. Robert Vissers for now and do a city update.
Mayor Weaver giving an update from the governor's office today:
These are the plans to move from "stay-at-home" to "safer-at-home"
"Even if you go to extreme and have 100% of ppl doing social distancing," that's not enough, Weaver says. We need a combo of biz closures, social distancing, testing, monitoring to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
We need a high level of social distancing (60-65%).

"You should stay at home unless you need to," Weaver says. Which is similar to what we're doing now, but "it's voluntarily. The request here is to be as responsible as an individual as you can."
"Maximize" your time at home, Weaver says. Going out should be done "rarely."
40-45% of ppl who have COVID are infectious but asymptomatic. So wear your masks, Weaver says: They're to protect ppl from you, not the other way around.
The goal of safer-at-home is to describe what is being changed, Weaver says, but what has not been described is how.

More details are forthcoming.
Curbside retail will open April 27, similar to food pickup from restaurants and bars.
Rules for other businesses that are opening (nail and hair salons, etc.) will be rolled out the week of April 27.
"The only other date I really have down here," Weaver says, "is on May 4 the goal is to have rules for non-essential businesses" like offices and full opening of retail stores.
Polis "expects more enforcement around business practices," Weaver says. "That's up to cities" to figure out what that looks like. "But he feels there needs to be some kind of consequence to that."
State working with Google on a tool to figure out "where people are congregating" that will be available to cities, Weaver says.

Interesting and potentially ominous...
Of the entities I'd least like to have my information, the city of Boulder and Google are high on that list.

Such is life...
Back to the presentation. I'm jumping a bit ahead, but Boulder is also working on a plan to re-open city services. Only Phase 1 is fleshed out for now: As you'll see, more details to come on April 28.
Carl Castillo, the city's lobbyist, is giving an update. The governor's plan is focused on what's sustainable, bc stay-at-home isn't.
But again, cities can do what they want. Denver's stay-at-home will be left in place through the end of April, for instance.
Castillo is going over federal relief acts passed so far. See slide 18-19 on the presentation.
Boulder will NOT be able to apply for federal aid for revenue lost to COVID, Castillo says. But President Trump has agreed (via Tweet) that the next piece of legislation will include relief for local governments (smaller than 500,000).
"The question now becomes," will Colorado share any of the $$ it gets? Castillo says.

"They have not made the decision, but they're committed to focusing on increasing the amount of $$ that is available by lobbying federal gov't."
Castillo: "Not a clear answer."
That might not be up to the governor, Castillo says. Colorado's General Assembly might be part of that.
Castillo: "It's not enough for us to rely on a promise that the federal gov't may pass another federal bill."
The General Assembly hasn't been meeting, but the Joint Budget Committee is getting back to work on May 5.
They deal with the monies.
Castillo: "They are anticipating a $3B decrease" in revenue for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1.
Legislature reconvening May 18.
They will consider bills under the lens of "Free, fast, friendly," Castillo says. If they require a lot of $$, a lot of debate or a lot of opposition, they will be lower priority.
Bills will probably have to have some "relevance" to COVID to be considered, Castillo says.
Boulder will be arguing that the two mobile home bills (strengthening protection for residents, etc.) should be on that list.

"We believe housing stability is now more relevant than ever," Castillo says.
OK, Motika has made her way through. This is the BoCo public health update.
"A promising statistic is our growth rate" for new cases: 2.2% — "relatively low but still growing slowly," Motika says.
Colorado has 10,000 reported cases, but state believes the real number is 65,000-75,000, Motika says.

Again, due to lack of widespread testing.
Boulder County's most infected population is still 20-29 y.o.

That's probably attributable to early transmissions "when CU was still in session," Motika says.
Going over the race/ethnicity data now. "There's many takeaways," Motika says.

There will be a "deeper" dive in a future briefing.
Motika: "Over 1/3 of ppl hospitalized are Latinx, and this number is triple their % in the overall population of Boulder county. We're asking ourselves, what are we going to do about this?"
Motika: "This is a finding not just in Boulder County; it's across the state, and it merits a systemic solution."
State-level working group on this; BoCo going to be working with them.
Motika: "We need to listen to our community, work with cultural brokers and follow their leadership ... Also increased translation of materials."
We also need to work on improving overall health among our local Latinx population, she said earlier.
We've moved onto the slides showing new cases and hospitalizations. We've seen a continued slowing of those, Motika says. Which is good.
A new and interesting slide (Slide 10) showing the available supplies of beds, ventilators, PPE at county hospitals.
Motika talking about reopening from a public health agency standpoint.

One important factor: Testing. "Boulder County and Colorado are still very short on testing."
You also need workers to track and investigate cases and transmission. "And we do not have enough ppl performing this function, either in BoCo or in the state of Colorado," Motika says.
"We're still looking for this notion of what strict precautions and protections mean," Motika says. "We're looking forward to guidance from the state about that."
"We actually need to see the order" to make a call, she says.
Or, rather, to weigh in from a public health perspective.
How long will safer-at-home be? "I think it's really going to depend on case counts and how the second phase of social distancing goes," Motika says
CO currently has 29 tests per 100,000 ppl
We need something like 150 per 100,000, Motika says, if we want to move away from stay-at-home
"Surveillance system(s) ... are really a proxy" for the amount of "testing we need," she says.
Friend: We're getting emails "pretty routinely" about long-term care facilities. How are we tracking cases and things there?

Also has qs about protocol for when someone in your house has it, she asks.
Motika: We're studying governor's orders on long-term care facilities. BoCo also has a team working with those facilities. "We're looking at testing and having ongoing meetings and checks with LTCF."
"There really should be isolation and a moving of ppl who are not infected from ppl who are infected."
Friend: I think I'm hearing you say we need to see the governor's orders before we shift from stay-at-home ....?

And when we do transition, are we looking at heightened protection for our Latinx population?
"Obviously we are doing something wrong and not protecting ppl well enough," Friend says.
Motika: Masking and PPE for workers is "vital," she says.
Friend: The fact that the governor wants cities to focus on enforcement sends up red flags. How can we do that without being biased?
Boulder has a history of biased policing, as do many American cities.
Brautigam: We're going to be getting some training to make sure we're focused on that.
Focused on equity in policing, rather.
Weaver: Polis was specifically talking about businesses.
So rather than ticketing or arresting individuals, Weaver explains, efforts will be on making sure businesses are operating in a way to protect their employees, and if not... that's where enforcement of some kind will come in.
Yates asking for an explanation of what "community" transmission is vs "person to person"

That's per this chart of how ppl are getting COVID
Motika: "The first incidences of cases was really due to travel. Ppl who had traveled to affected communities and brought back the disease. We were able to use contact tracing to find that out."
Motika: As tracing was not able to ID the source of how somebody contracted it, that's what we call community transmission.

"Community transmission, you don't know where the source was, but it came from the community."
Brockett: You led by saying we don't have testing, staff or 14-day decline in cases... so what is BoCo public health thinking about doing a different stay-at-home order from the governor's?
Motika: "I think that, if you look at the governor's scenarios .... What they are relying on is this achieving the 60-65% social distancing, physical distancing, by encouraging ppl to stay at home except when necessary, primacy of masks in public...."
"I think we are going to look at the order and going to consider some options, that could involve an extension of the existing stay-at-home order ... or other approaches."
Polis' "guidance is really talking about telecommuting and thinking about which segments of our population need to be telecommuting and ... moving our society, at least for the short-term, toward much, much more telecommuting."
But "the data has to drive this," she says. We have to watch our cases, our hospitalizations, etc.
Weaver: Polis said April 27 doesn't necessarily mean anything can open for biz. We'll see how it goes. But it does mean that business owners can go in and start preparing for customers while guidelines are developed for how to do business.
Wallach q: Is testing adequate or comparable in the Latinx community to the community as a whole? And why is Colorado so bad at testing? (42nd of 50 states, apparently...? according to some study he mentions)
Motika: "Those are qs a lot of ppl in the state are asking right now."

We're working with the state to get the supplies, to prioritize some communities.
Young: Can we shift our criteria for testing to improve some of the disparities we're seeing in the data? What else can we do, short-term, to address that?
Motika: Paid sick leave is an important policy issue.
"We are very, very concerned, very worried about the criteria for testing and how we can be supportive of the Latinx population."
She'll follow up with a written answer.
Dr. Vissers from BCH up now.
8 COVID patients right now; 5 in the ICU
Still averaging 10-20 positive patients and "rule-outs"
A "bit of an increase" in patients, particularly from long-term care facilities.
"Some concern" about "small outbreaks" but "not a big surge," Vissers says.

Only ppl really being tested are health care workers, police, fire, and ppl "sick enough to be submitted"
Deaths have "mostly leveled."
3 of county's deaths have been at BCH; 2 were there for "comfort care" so only 1 was ventilated.

If you get on a vent, your chance of dying is 2 of 3, Vissers says. BCH's is closer to 25%
That 25% might be for BoCo as a whole, bc I don't think 3 ppl is enough of a dataset.
Vissers: We are capable of doing testing in Boulder. Received 31 test kits; can turn it around in 2 hrs. "But we've had to preserve those" kits bc we only have 31, he says.
"We are pretty far behind in our ability to expand our testing. It's going to be critical as we start to relax some of these stay-at-home orders. Idk what to do about it. We've done everything we can on our end."
BCH has started doing antibody testing on recovered people. "Unclear how that translates to immunity, but there is an assumption that it provides immunity for some period of time."

Will be testing 200 ppl this week.
As of Monday, BCH will resume some elective surgery. (That's part of the state guidelines.)

"The harm being done by delay is starting to be outweighed by the risk" of not doing the surgeries, Vissers says.
"We are starting to see significant harm in our community ... bc of ppl deferring care, being afraid to seek care." Vissers. "Please go see your doctor. There's probably not a safer place in Boulder than the hospital."
Shutting hospitals to non-emergent patients was never about safety, he says, it was about hospital capacity.

"Any hospital, not just ours, is a safe place to be and it's much safer than sitting home" with serious symptoms or "anything that worries you."
BCH has the capacity to resume elective surgery. Very few surgeries require ICU stays after, he says, "so we absolutely have capacity."
"A month ago, although it was a challenge, I feel much better about accommodating an increase."

Can we handle a surge? Yes, I think we can. We'll have a warning, if cases start to rise.
Cases are now doubling every 15 days, rather than 1-2 days as at the beginning, Vissers says. "Our ability to decompress the hospital is very good. ... We can create capacity" very quickly and well.
Friend: You're going to do 200 antibody tests. Who qualifies? Will that ramp up?
Vissers: There's all kinds of antibody tests out there. Some are better than others; we've picked one we think is best.

Testing now will focus on employees working directly with COVID patients, ppl at higher risk or have been exposed before.
"The primary goal of the first 200 is to see if the testing works."

Funded by an internal BCH grant. It will be made available to providers in the community.
Assuming it works, of course.
That's all for the health update. Kurt Firnhaber, housing and human services director, up now.
Some data from his presentation:
Boulder BARHA Member Survey: Received 88% of normal rent collection in April (most payments were late)
Numerous requests for some sort of assistance for April rent

I believe they represent landlords of ~14,000 units in Boulder....?
That was in one of my stories but I've forgotten.
Boulder Housing Partners (~1,400 units): 6% gross potential rent loss in April compared to typical 3% loss

Boulder County Housing Authority (~800 units): Received 85% of normal rent compared to a typical 97% (as of April 17) 4% indicate difficulties paying rent
"One of the important messages here is if you are struggling with your rent, reach out to your landlord," Firnhaber says. "Many of the landlord members of BARHA have worked toward finding solutions."
Here's where you can go if you need help:

Or call 303-441-1206
You can also call me bc, man, nothing makes landlords back down faster than a call from the press. Has already happened once with a property that was trying to do regularly scheduled rent increases(!) in March.

But don't call me first; only call me if you can't get other help.
Mediation services for renters/landlord disputes have expanded to cover more of the county. Longmont covering Lyons, Allenspark, Lafayette. Boulder covering Nederland, Gunbarrel.
Young q about rent payment data: Are we going to keep collecting it?
Firnhaber: Idk. I'll get back to you.
We WERE gonna take a nice, long break until 8:05 but council members nixed that.
Guess I'll have to get some dinner while tweeting.
Brautigam talking about the reopening of the city facilities, which are closed until further notice.

That was going to be until April 30, she says, "but it's very likely it will be continued after that bc we have not yet met" needed safety considerations.
A reopening of city services/facilities will follow public health guidelines, Brautigam says: "We're not at that point yet."
Brautigam: "It may well be that we do not start up city council meetings for quite some time bc we want to preserve social distancing as the most important thing."
Full reopening likely won't be until there is a widely available vaccine, she says.
The golf course might open next week, though, Brautigam says. Dependent on public health guidance.
"Telecommuting will continue for most city employees that are telecommuting" now, Brautigam says. "We've been able to prove" that we can do it and keep the city running.
I miss being in the council chambers, tbh, but at least here I don't have to wear pants.
That's right, Boulder, I went from wearing yoga pants to no pants remarkably quickly.
Brautigam: Before we bring employees back, we need to be testing them for symptoms and making sure they are wearing masks.

There's a city team focused on COVID recovery and getting things back to normal-ish.
Boulder will continue to adhere to state and county health guidelines wherever possible. "We need to be in this together" and have consistently, Brautigam says.
Friend: Is there a different timeline for the East Boulder Rec Center, which is housing homeless COVID patients?
Brautigam: That's going to stay open as the CRC as long as we need it for residents who are unhoused.
Extra beds might be for ppl who are hospitalized but can't go home when they are released bc they have "vulnerable populations" at home, Brautigam says.
Rec centers might stay closed the longest bc of all the chances for transmission: Shared equipment, close quarters, many ppl.
"I have no clue" when those might reopen, Brautigam says.
Friend asks about expanded use of the CRC. That starts tomorrow, Brautigam. It would be for a "very limited number of people ... who can't otherwise go home."
Wallach q that I kinda missed, but I think it's about whose lead we're going to follow in Boulder.
Brautigam: Boulder County's.
He's restating it, thankfully.

Ah, it was about enforcement, which Wallach has asked about *repeatedly*
Brautigam: If ppl see something they'd like to report, they call it in to the public health dept. If it happens in Boulder, they'll send us info and our staff checks it out, reports back to public health and educates the "offending party."

That's how it works now.
In the future, Brautigam says, we'll do what BoCo public health thinks is appropriate, with a focus on equity.
We're breaking until 8:05 for the howl.

"Howl if you want to" Brautigam said earlier. (That's out of context but oh well.)
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