KVNF Regional Newscast: June 20, 2022
Today is World Refugee Day. Governor Jared Polis is highlighting legislation our state has passed this year supporting refugees in Colorado. Since the advent of the U.S. resettlement program in 1980, Colorado has welcomed more than 62,000 refugees. So far this year, Colorado has welcomed 3,127 refugees from 44 countries, including 70 Ukrainians and over 2,000 Afghans who supported the U.S. government and military overseas. Polis signed new legislation this year to support new Americans through Senate Bill 140 which expands use of funds to support English Language Learners in career training and credentialing, and House Bill 1050 that cuts red tape for internationally trained healthcare workers to become licensed in the U.S. and Colorado.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued an order last week to reduce single-use plastic products and packaging on all lands managed by the Department as of 2032. The Obama administration banned sales of disposable plastic water bottles at two dozen Park Service sites like Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore national parks, along with the Colorado National Monument. Grand Junction Sentinel reports the Trump administration rescinded the policy in 2017. It is back on track now with Haaland’s order, which applies to the National Park Service, and other agencies including the Bureau of Land Management. They are not only steering away from procurement, sale and distribution of single-use plastics, they’re developing plans with calendars and targets to completely phase out single-use plastic products by 2032.
Colorado’s COVID hospitalizations rose by about 20 percent over the last week, from 270 on June 7th to 323 on June 14th. Denver Post reports deaths have started to rise as well, with 46 reported in the first week of June. That’s the highest weekly total since early March. The CDPHE reported 16,566 new cases in the week ending last Sunday, which was a 14 percent increase from the previous week. The percentage of tests coming back positive has dropped compared to the previous week, to an average of 11.9 percent over the last seven days. A shift to at-home tests has pushed down case counts, since many people don’t know they can report their tests or choose not to. Home testing may also raise the positivity rate, since few people report negative results.
Colorado will close down 48 COVID testing sites on June 30th. The state closed 40 sites in April, citing the availability of home test kits as well as testing in medical offices. The closures come as new COVID infections, the number of people hospitalized with the virus, and the rate of tests coming back positive have been increasing in Colorado. Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident commander, told the Denver Post state-run sites are processing about 2,200 tests per day. Even with sites closed, the state will have the capacity to handle 8,000 tests per day, and could more than double the number of tests per day in about two weeks if there’s another surge.
Jordan Campbell of Ramro Global, dedicated to crisis reporting and worldwide humanitarian action, shared stories and photos last week at the Sherbino in Ridgway from his trip to the Donbas region of Ukraine, under siege by the Russian military. Kate Redmond has more.