COVID-19 Policy and Legislative Updates
May 19, 2020
The Policy and Legislative Advisory Network (PLAN) is committed to keeping the larger network abreast of policies, legislation, regulations, and rules being implemented across the state and nation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updates below include information through 5.19.2020 and were provided by:

Please note: This information is subject to change. In addition, some updates may be sourced from organizations that have read limits or limits on how many articles you can access in a given time period.
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Local COVID-19 Policy Updates
Coronavirus In Colorado; The Numbers
According to today's data release, in Colorado there have been 131,837 people tested, 22,482 positive cases, 3,955 hospitalized, 1,257 deaths among cases (968 deaths due to COVID), 240 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities, 60 of 64 counties with positive cases. In Adams County we have 2,675 cases and 104 deaths. Read More from CDPHE HERE
Colorado Lawmaker Is A Nurse Who Treated COVID-19 Patients In Chicago Jail
Just before he enters the hospital for a 12-hour shift in the emergency room, Kyle Mullica pauses to narrate the moment. The 33-year-old state lawmaker struggles for words to describe what it feels like to trade his suit for scrubs and return to his job as an ER nurse amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. And when the legislature went on break for the pandemic, State Rep. Mullica went above and beyond and traveled to the Cook County jail in Chicago to care for COVID-19 patients. Read More from 9News HERE and the Colorado Sun HERE
JBC Gets Down To Hard Part Of Budget Exercise; Cuts To K-12 Education
The goal of protecting K-12 education funding was forced to fall by the wayside Tuesday as the Joint Budget Committee continued to search for massive cuts to the 2020-21 general fund budget. With such a large gap, JBC staff analyst Craig Harper told the committee that their efforts to protect K-12 education from the biggest budget cuts to date are probably not possible. That could mean an increase to the debt to K-12 education so large that it exceeds the obligation after the Great Recession of a decade ago. Read More from Colorado Politics HERE 
Gov. Polis And Legislative Leadership Announce Agreement On The Disbursement Of Federal CARES Act Funds
Governor Jared Polis, in collaboration with legislative leadership, announced yesterday the allocation of $1.674 billion in federal funds from the CARES Act that will immediately support the State’s robust response to the COVID-19 crisis as well as key investments needed for economic recovery. These resources will support local communities both directly, as funds flow from State agencies to local partners, and indirectly. In addition to these funds, our local communities are receiving significant federal resources, including $125 million to Colorado communities from the Department of Health and Human Services, more than $16 million in Community Development Block Grants, $8 million in Community Services Block Grants, and an estimated $30 million to local governments for COVID-19 testing. Read More from Governor Jared Polis HERE
Colorado Governor Announces Distribution Of $1.6 Billion In Federal Coronavirus Aid
Gov. Jared Polis on Monday evening announced how he will spend $1.67 billion in federal coronavirus aid, directing more than half of it to the state’s schools and colleges and universities. Polis is spending $960 million of the federal money on education. Of that, $500 million is slated to be transferred to local K-12 school districts and $450 million is earmarked for higher education institutions. None of the dollars can backfill lost revenue from the economic downturn, however, and must be spent to address the impacts of COVID-19. Read More from The Colorado Sun HERE
GOP Cross With How Polis, Dem Leadership Will Split $1.6B In CARES Act Funds
Instead of a discussion on how to divide the federal dollars, the JBC will work through the technical aspects of the CARES money, how it can or cannot be used. Like the state, several Colorado counties and local governments are looking at budget shortfalls due to the cost of the COVID-19 response and a loss of tax revenues. When it comes to local aid, under the CARES Act, only counties with populations of 500,000 or more got direct local aid. This left a majority of mid-sized and rural communities waiting to see how much financial help they’d receive. Read More from CPR HERE
Colorado Restaurants Will Be Serving on Streets, Sidewalks
During a May 18 press conference, Governor Jared Polis said that state officials will have preliminary guidelines for the reopening of restaurants available for public perusal, and promised that they'll encourage dining outside because doing so enhances safety. He also urged cities and counties to pass rules in conjunction with a scheduled May 25 announcement about a reopening schedule that will allow eateries to expand onto sidewalks, as well as into parking lots and the streets in front of their locations. Read More from Westword HERE
Colorado's Job Recovery Will Be Full of Fits and Starts In Months Ahead
Back and forth can be expected in the weeks and months ahead in a labor market that had shed a decade’s worth of job gains in just two months. Some employers will call a portion of their workers back, while permanently cutting ties with others. Hard-hit areas like retail and hospitality may partially staff up again, while other sectors, like government and business services, may see accelerating layoffs. And a large and still undetermined number of jobs will simply go away, shifting what was a tight labor market in favor of employers and putting downward pressure on wages. Read More from The Denver Post HERE  
Inspectors Noted COVID-19 Related Violations at Colorado Nursing Homes
Life Care Centers of America, a nursing home network of more than 200 facilities in 28 states, had numerous violations of COVID-19-related health standards, including at locations in Colorado. The Washington Post reported that during a March 30 inspection of a nursing home in Pueblo, multiple employees did not wash their hands, wear face coverings or isolate residents. On March 31, an inspector at a Greeley facility noted that there was no request for the residents to wash their hands prior to eating. At a third facility near Denver, an employee did not wash her hands after assisting with a dirtied bedpan. Read More from Colorado Politics HERE
After Crowds Flock to Boulder Creek, Health Officials Say Social Distancing Rules Still Apply, Even On The Water
Boulder County health officials say people congregating around Boulder Creek in what appears to be a violation of public health orders on social distancing are potentially exposing themselves and others to COVID-19. Social media video and pictures show large pockets of maskless people — easily more than 100 in total — gathered along the shore of the creek on Monday not following the current social distancing guidelines. Read More from CPR HERE
Coronavirus Model Predicts Potential Danger In Denver This Summer, Little Spread in Colorado Springs
Colorado’s climate could help keep new cases of COVID-19 down through the summer, but meteorological advantages aren’t going to be enough if people return to normal life while the virus is still circulating widely. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s PolicyLab projected how many new coronavirus cases 10 Colorado counties might see this summer, depending on what their residents decide to do. Read More from The Denver Post HERE
RTD Begins Search for Permanent General Manager
The Regional Transportation District has begun its process to hire a permanent general manager, with applications being due July 10. Krauthamer & Associates, a firm based in Maryland, will assist the RTD board’s Executive Search Committee in conducting the nationwide candidate evaluation. The agency will announce its schedule in the coming weeks, but any opportunities to involve the public will likely take place virtually. Interim general manager and CEO Paul Ballard assumed the role in February following the retirement of Dave Genova, the general manager since 2016. Read More from Colorado Politics HERE
Water World Will Not Open in 2020
Water World on Tuesday said it will not be open for the 2020 summer season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time in the water park's 40 years in business that it will not open. Water World park officials said Water World's size and typical seasonal visitor numbers mean it would not be permitted to open safely within the park's operating season. Water World is 70 acres, and can accommodate up to 500,000 visitors each year in a typical 90-day to 93-day season. Read More from 9News HERE
Would An Emergency Tax Work in Colorado? Progressives Want to Try
When they reconvene at the legislature next week, Colorado's lawmakers will have to find agreement on how to reduce state government spending for next year by billions of dollars. The damage may be heaviest for education, health and social support programs, which make up the largest part of the budget. Some progressive groups think there’s another way: Find more money. The state gets most of its tax revenues from personal income taxes and sales taxes, which have evaporated with businesses locked up. Raising those tax rates would normally require approval by the voters, since state spending is tightly constrained by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. But TABOR includes an “emergency tax” provision. It’s never been used before, but it could allow lawmakers to temporarily raise income taxes. Read More from CPR HERE  
Gov. Polis, COVID Relief Fund Announces 3rd Round of Grantees
Gov. Polis and the Colorado COVID Relief Fund yesterday announced the third round of grants given to Colorado organizations working with those who have been impacted by the coronavirus. Through three rounds, the Fund received 2,451 applications for a total request of $54.2 million. 505 organizations have received grants for a total of $11.1 million. Grants have been disbursed to organizations located in 56 counties in Colorado that are serving all 64 counties. Read More from Governor Jared Polis HERE
With Colorado's Budget In Tatters, Advocates Worry The Public Safety Net Will Further Fray
The safety net that protects Colorado’s most vulnerable residents was badly frayed by Gov. Jared Polis’ deep budget cuts and now advocates are seething about potential reductions in services for next year. Facing a massive budget shortfall resulting from steep declines in sales and income taxes because of the coronavirus, Polis and the General Assembly are considering hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts that would affect health insurance for children, comprehensive care for adults with disabilities, substance abuse treatment, education in youth detention centers and more. Read More from The Colorado Sun HERE
Working Parents And Child Care Providers Share An Uncertain Future In Colorado
Child care programs face extreme financial pressures right now. Even the summer programs that are able to open will look very different than normal. First, they might not be able to operate in school buildings as they ordinarily would. Also, current state health guidelines limit programs to 10 children in a group. The result is fewer spots to help working families. Read More from CPR HERE
Voters In Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, And New York To Decide A Combined $5.16B In Bond Issues in 2020
Seven bond issues (totaling $5.16 billion combined) are on the ballot for voters in Maine, on July 14, and Colorado, New Mexico, and New York on November 3. A bond issue is a measure placed on the ballot by the state or local government that asks voters to approve the issuance of bonds (debts in which the issuer owes the holders a debt and is obligated to repay the principal and interest at a later date). A bond issue is on the November ballot in Colorado that would authorize $1.837 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects. Read More from Ballotpedia News HERE
National COVID-19 Policy Updates
NACo Aims To Put Face On County Employees Battling Pandemic
NACo has launched a campaign to help put a face on frontline workers — many of whom are county employees — battling the coronavirus pandemic. Called “We Are Counties,” the campaign aims to drive home the fact that America’s 3.6 million county employees — including EMTs, nurses, doctors and support personnel, as well as law enforcement officials, firefighters, public health experts, human services professionals, coroners and medical examiners, and other county government employees — are saving lives and serving communities. Read More from the National Association of Counties HERE
Study Projects US COVID-19 Deaths To Triple By End Of Year
A new study suggests the number of Americans who will die after contracting the novel coronavirus is likely to more than triple by the end of the year, even if current social distancing habits continue for months on end. The study, conducted by the Comparative Health Outcomes, Policy and Economics Institute at the University of Washington's School of Pharmacy, found that 1.3 percent of those who show symptoms of COVID-19 die, an infection fatality rate that is 13 times higher than a bad influenza season. Read More from The Hill HERE
All States Will Be Partially Reopened By Memorial Day Weekend
By Memorial Day weekend, every US state will have begun lifting measures enacted weeks ago to curb the spread of coronavirus. Many governors have already pushed into a second phase of restarting their economies, with some states now allowing restaurants, retailers and personal service shops to reopen their doors. Yet as of Tuesday, at least 17 states have recorded a clear upward trend of average new daily cases -- a rise of at least 10% -- over the past seven days. Read More from CNN HERE
Maryland Reports Largest Rise Yet In Coronavirus Cases, 4 Days After Reopening
The Maryland Department of Health reported 1,784 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday, setting a new high mark just four days after the state began reopening its economy. Maryland is now reporting 41,546 cases, including nearly 2,000 people who have died from the disease. Along with the new positive tests, 5,368 people tested negative for COVID-19 in the 24 hours leading up to 10 a.m. ET — meaning roughly 25% of the 7,152 tests in that period resulted in positive COVID-19 diagnoses. Read More from NPR HERE
Texas, North Carolina, Arizona See Rising Cases As They Reopen
Texas, North Carolina and Arizona are among the states seeing rising numbers of coronavirus cases, intensifying concerns as they seek to reopen shuttered economies. Texas saw its largest one-day increase in cases on Saturday, with 1,801 new cases. North Carolina also saw its largest single-day jump on Saturday with 853 new cases. And Arizona reported 462 new cases that day, close to a record high. The data illustrate the risk of states reopening even amid ongoing outbreaks. Read More from The Hill HERE
Walmart Hires Almost A Quarter-Million Workers As Sales Soar
As the largest retail chain that remained open during the coronavirus pandemic, Walmart became a huge draw for shoppers. The retailer says it hired a whopping 235,000 new workers during the health crisis to keep up with big demand at stores and warehouses. Walmart's online sales jumped 74% to a new record as the company grew its home delivery and curbside pickup services. In stores, shoppers visited less frequently, but they spent almost 17% more per transaction. Walmart said its coronavirus-related costs also soared to some $900 million, which the company said mainly went toward temporary pay bumps and bonuses for workers. Read More from NPR HERE
Mnuchin Says Treasury Ready To Provide More Money, Take More Risk In Fed Lending Programs
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday he was prepared to provide more money and take more risk to expedite lending programs being established by the Federal Reserve to combat the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The $2 trillion economic-relief package that President Trump signed into law in March provided the Treasury with $46 billion to provide direct assistance to airlines and other distressed industries, plus another $454 billion to cover losses in Fed lending programs. The Fed has launched nine lending programs with Mr. Mnuchin’s approval to support financial markets, businesses, cities and states, and the Treasury Department has provided $195 billion from the economic-relief bill to cover losses in some of those programs. Read More from The Wall Street Journal HERE 
Senators Clash Over How Soon To Reopen The Economy
Members of the Senate Banking Committee squabbled Tuesday over how quickly the U.S. economy can rebound from the coronavirus shutdown and whether the federal government is doing enough to support struggling families and businesses in the meantime. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell defended the government's multi-trillion-dollar relief efforts to date. Powell stressed additional measures may be necessary to prevent lasting economic damage. Read More from NPR HERE
Next Up For OZs
Monday’s White House meeting on the OZ program was a bit of a surprise. But it’s also not the first time that the White House has talked up Opportunity Zones and the eventual economic recovery. One person familiar with the administration’s policy deliberations on Opportunity Zones expects the White House to release as soon as this week a fuller set of ideas aimed at helping the recovery in distressed areas, which would likely include ideas for improving the OZ program. Read More from Politico HERE
Did You Lose Your Health Insurance Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic? You May Have Other Options
As of May 2, nearly 27 million Americans could potentially lose their employer-based health insurance amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report published May 13. The Kaiser study found that around 12.7 million people who become uninsured after losing their job — nearly half the total — are eligible for Medicaid, while an additional 8.4 million people are eligible for subsidized plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. In total, 79% of people who are losing their employer-based insurance are eligible for some form of publicly-subsidized coverage in May. Read More from Time HERE
President Trump Threatens To Permanently Cut WHO Funding and More
President Trump threatened Monday to permanently halt U.S. funding to the World Health Organization and “reconsider” the country’s membership in the United Nations body if it does not “commit to major substantive improvements” within the next 30 days. Trump temporarily suspended U.S. payments in April for 60 days, an unpopular move that critics said was aimed at distracting from his own administration’s response to the pandemic. His ultimatum Monday, which came as WHO member countries conferred about the pandemic, may provoke more backlash at the international level. Read More from The Washington Post HERE  
Washington Sues DeVos For Restricting Emergency Aid To Undocumented Students
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over her agency’s decision to exclude undocumented students from receiving financial aid included in the coronavirus stimulus law. DeVos last month announced that colleges and universities must distribute billions of dollars in coronavirus stimulus money on their campuses only to students who qualify for federal financial aid, which excludes undocumented students — including those who have DACA protections. The lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, argues that the Education Department’s restrictions violated the Administrative Procedure Act because the department exceeded its statutory authority and lacked any reasoning or explanation, and that the department violated Article I of the Constitution, which gives exclusive “power of the purse” to Congress. Read More from Washington State Office of the Attorney General HERE
Don't Expect A Single Return-To-The-Office Day For Feds, White House Says
Federal agencies will take a piecemeal approach to bringing employees back to their offices in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Each agency will recall its workers based on mission needs, and that will likely occur slowly over a wide-ranging period. The decisions will be made in close consultation with local officials in each city and state, as spelled out in an OMB memorandum issued last month. Read More from Government Executive HERE
Study Finds World's Daily Carbon Emissions Fell 17% In April
The world's daily carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell by 17% in April — the peak of global lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus — when compared to 2019 levels. Though researchers say CO2 emission levels are again increasing as lockdowns are gradually lifted, they estimate that total emissions this year will be between 4% and 7% lower than 2019's total, which would be the largest annual decrease since the end of World War II. Read More from Axios HERE
Tens Of Millions Of Surgeries Are Being Postponed As A Result Of The Pandemic
During the pandemic hospitals around the world have cut back on routine surgeries and procedures to maintain patient safety, and to free up capacity for the deluge of coronavirus patients. England’s National Health Service (NHS) reckons that it has already postponed more than 2 million planned operations, freeing up 12,000 beds for COVID-19 patients. Read More from The Economist HERE
There Isn't A COVID-19 Vaccine Yet, But Some Are Already Skeptical About It
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, anti-vaccine activists have become intertwined with demonstrators who want businesses to reopen despite public health experts’ warnings. Online, well-known anti-vaccine activists have been hard at work sowing doubt about the COVID-19 vaccine—a vaccine that does not yet exist, and likely will not exist for many months, if not longer. Approximately one in five Americans have already expressed unwillingness to get an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. More from Time HERE
The Nightmare That Colleges Face This Fall
There’s still no consensus on what next semester will be like. This spring’s university closures have bought school leaders time to figure out how to introduce social distance into spaces designed to bring people together—classrooms, dining facilities, study lounges, and campus housing, to name a few. And although pivoting to online learning has likely helped slow the spread of the coronavirus in college towns, a meaningful solution to the crisis appears far off. Colleges cannot keep students away forever; their bottom lines can’t handle that financial pressure. Read More from The Atlantic HERE
The Astronauts Bringing Spaceflight Back To The US
Two people — NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken — are about to risk their lives in the name of bringing human spaceflight back to the U.S. The two astronauts are set to take flight from Florida aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon, marking the first time the company has attempted to launch people and the first crewed launch from the U.S. since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. Read More from Axios HERE
About Rocky Mountain Cradle to Career Partnership (RMC2C)
The Rocky Mountain Cradle to Career Partnership (RMC2C) Backbone team is working to support network partners in their efforts to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Backbone continues to be in a position to bring people together to work collectively, specifically around emergency response and recovery related to COVID-19.

Previously, RMC2C has exclusively focused on supporting youth from Cradle to Career. However, in light of the crisis our community currently faces, there is an immediate need to provide the Backbone's expertise, skills, and resources to the larger community.