Post Premium: Top stories for the week of Dec. 28-Jan. 3 – The Denver Post

Denver leaders who for two decades have backed densification, paving over greenspace with concrete and asphalt to accommodate more people in the city, now are turning to trees for relief from worsening heat islands that amplify climate warming.

But urban ecologists and city officials say trees alone won’t be enough to keep Denver habitable as temperatures increase. They urge a far more ambitious expansion of greenspace.

“And concrete is definitely getting poured faster than we are planting trees,” city forester Mike Swanson told The Denver Post.

Heat islands — dense urban areas that are much warmer than their surroundings — have widened, data shows, with Denver emerging as one of the nation’s most “impervious,” or paved-over, cities. Older neighborhoods where houses have yards may be more resilient, researchers have found, because compared with redeveloped parts of the city, these landscapes don’t radiate as much heat.

Tree-planting “is going to be our focal point” for beating the rising heat, Denver Parks and Recreation planning director Gordon Robertson said, acknowledging the heat island problem. Doubled funding of $1 million will bolster tree-planting on public-access property and existing parks, concentrated downtown and in “low-equity” neighborhoods, Robertson said.

— Bruce Finley, The Denver Post 

Denver looks to tree-planting to help shade city as heat islands grow and new greenspace proves elusive

Colorado first state in U.S. to confirm new, more contagious strain of COVID-19

The first known U.S. case of the highly contagious new strain of the coronavirus that’s spreading through the United Kingdom has been discovered in a rural Colorado county, indicating the variant likely has circulated in the state and nation for some time.

Colorado’s state lab confirmed the presence of the new strain in Elbert County after a man in his 20s tested positive for what’s being called the B.1.1.7 variant. The patient, who has no history of traveling, will remain in isolation until he’s medically cleared, state officials said. Read more…

Colorado moves people 70 and older, teachers and grocery workers to higher COVID-19 vaccine priority

Colorado again revised how it’s prioritizing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, as the governor announced Wednesday that the state will begin administering shots to a wider pool of people before hospitals and long-term-care facilities finish inoculating their frontline workers and residents.

Gov. Jared Polis said the state is moving to the latter half of Phase 1 of its vaccine distribution plan, a stage now expanded to include all Coloradans 70 and older, teachers, grocery store employees and other essential workers, alongside originally scheduled first responders and health care workers with less contact with coronavirus patients.

But Polis’ announcement lacked specific details about how and when the people who were moved up from Phase 2 to Phase 1B on Wednesday will be vaccinated, sparking confusion and catching some local public health officials off guard. Health care providers and county health departments reported fielding calls all day from people wanting to know when they can be inoculated. Read more…

Polis’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions catches local health agencies off guard, raises “deep concerns”

The governor posted the order on Facebook at 8:40 p.m. Wednesday, then, 32 minutes later, followed it with a tweet: all counties at Level Red, the state’s second-highest stage of COVID-19 restrictions, will move down a notch on Colorado’s dial framework next week.

Jennifer Ludwig, deputy director of the Tri-County Health Department, missed Gov. Jared Polis’s after-hours social media posts.

It wasn’t until the next morning, when she opened her inbox, that she discovered a string of messages about the announcement, news stories and, somewhere buried in there, an email she’d missed the night before from the director of the state health department. Read more…

Changes coming for Colorado employers and workers alike starting in 2021

Colorado employers have had a lot on their plate in 2020, including shifting to remote work arrangements, ensuring a safe workplace, and juggling furloughs and layoffs. As 2021 kicks off, they will have to implement several new rules designed to better protect workers.

The changes include a requirement to post any job openings to all Colorado workers in a given workplace, including salary ranges; mandatory paid sick leave of up to 48 hours and stronger protections for whistle-blower complaints made about an unsafe work environment during public health emergencies.

Here are some details on what is coming in 2021:

Floyd Little, Broncos Hall of Fame running back, dies at age 78

The first great player in Broncos history has passed away.

Floyd Little, the franchise’s star during years of struggles in the 1960s and ‘70s, died Friday night following a battle with a rare form of cell cancer.

He was 78.

Universally beloved by his alma mater Syracuse, by Broncos Country and by contemporaries in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Little’s passion for football, energy for helping others and overall enthusiasm for life created unforgettable memories.

“Floyd Little was a true hero of the game,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker said. “He was a man of great integrity, passion and courage. His contributions off the field were even greater than his amazing accomplishments he did on it. Floyd’s smile, heart and character epitomized what it meant to have a Hall of Fame life.” Read more…

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