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► As The Denver Post reports, the number of new coronavirus cases in Colorado saw a recent drop after six weeks of increases:
The number of new coronavirus cases in Colorado dropped 18% last week, marking the first week-over-week decline since confirmed infections began increasing in the state a month-and-a-half ago.
The state health department recorded 3,243 new COVID-19 cases between July 27 and Sunday, down from 3,961 cases the prior week.
The drop in new cases comes after Colorado saw infections rise for six consecutive weeks following a long decline, as more residents left their homes while the state reopened, which can increase the chances of exposure to the novel coronavirus.
Colorado also is seeing a decline in hospitalizations and the rate at which COVID-19 tests come back positive. The former is an indicator of the severity of the pandemic, while the latter provides insight into the transmission of the disease within the community.
► “Patriots Wear Face Masks!” That’s the new line from President Trump, who had long been an outspoken opponent of mask-wearing.
► President Trump’s insistence on re-opening public schools is drawing opposition from his own advisers, as The Washington Post reports:
Deborah Birx was at a vacation home in Delaware when White House communications staffers called to say they needed to put her on the Sunday shows. Ever the good soldier, the coordinator of President Trump’s coronavirus task force appeared remotely on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Asked whether schools should fully reopen, Birx answered: “If you have high caseload and active community spread … we are asking people to distance learn at this moment, so we can get this epidemic under control.”
Administration officials say Birx has been arguing this privately, citing recent studies to make her case, but saying so publicly was one of the factors that put her crosswise with Trump. The president responded to the interview by calling her “pathetic!” in a tweet on Monday morning and continued his aggressive push to fully reopen schools during an afternoon news conference, disregarding warnings against doing so from a chorus of public health experts while ignoring mounting evidence that this could lead to potentially deadly outbreaks.
► As Colorado Public Radio reports, the November ballot keeps growing in size:
Colorado voters will have many decisions to make in November, and not just about their elected officials. The state will also decide on topics ranging from abortion to voting and taxes. And with the deadline now passed for groups to turn in signatures to the Secretary of State’s office, the list of ballot measures could rise to an even dozen.
Five initiatives made it in by Monday’s deadline and will now have their petitions reviewed by state officials. Under Colorado law, a campaign needs at least 124,632 valid signatures for a measure to make the ballot.
Denver7 has more on the various measures that will be added to the ballot for 2020.
Massive explosions rocked downtown Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the port, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors as a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital. Witnesses saw many people injured by flying glass and debris.
An Associated Press photographer near the port saw people lying injured on the ground, and hospitals called for blood donations, but exact casualties were not immediately known.
Miles from the scene of the blast, balconies were knocked down, ceiling collapsed and windows were shattered.
The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.
More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…
Now Only Partially Coronavirus-Related…
► President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law on Tuesday, and then he got a stick. As The Associated Press reports:
The law requires full, mandatory funding of the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund and addresses the maintenance backlog facing America’s national parks and public lands. The law would spend about $900 million a year — double current spending — on the conservation fund and another $1.9 billion per year on improvements at national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and range lands.
Trump in his budgets to Congress had previously recommended slashing the amount of money allocated to the fund, but he reversed course and called for full funding in March.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to take a great deal of credit for the bill’s passage — even if his motivation was more about politics than policy. Colorado Democrats are pushing back against Gardner’s “greenwashing”:
— Colorado Dems (@coloradodems) August 4, 2020
► Former Governor John Hickenlooper was endorsed by The Sierra Club today in his bid for the U.S. Senate. From a press release:
“We are pleased to announce today that the Sierra Club officially endorses John Hicklooper for election to the Senate,” said Sierra Club Colorado Chapter Director Emily Gedeon. “Colorado deserves a Senator who will prioritize public lands and conservation from day one, not just when it is politically convenient. Our 100,000 members and supporters across Colorado look forward to having a representative in the Senate who we can work with to build a strong, inclusive clean energy economy and who will speak up for key environmental protections.”
Given the current administration and Congressional Republicans’ continued threats to clean air and water and public lands, it is more important than ever to elect environmental champions to the Senate.
► President Trump’s persistent baseless warnings about fraud in mail balloting has Republicans worried about GOP voters turnout in November.
► Americans in the Northeast are bracing for tropical storm Isaias, which came ashore near the border of North Carolina and South Carolina on Monday.
► This probably won’t surprise you, but it should nevertheless concern you: President Trump really doesn’t seem to have a grasp of the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic As Philip Bump writes for The Washington Post, Trump’s interview with Axios last week revealed some troubling trends:
Even within the confines of Trump’s bounded successes, though, it quickly became apparent that he didn’t have a grasp on what was happening with the pandemic. He was holding numbers in his hands, but didn’t understand what they showed and, importantly, what they didn’t…
…It’s clear that Trump wasn’t prepared for this interview. The question that follows is why. Was it simply that, after months of doing almost no interviews besides overtly friendly ones on Fox News, he was unprepared to be challenged on basic points? Or, more alarmingly, was it that he didn’t actually understand the scope of the pandemic that his team insists is the central focus of his time?
► POLITICO looks at President Trump’s various political strategies as he sinks further and further in the polls:
Republicans have been bombarding Trump with advice, arguing that his insistence on stoking the same divisive issues — white resentment of minorities, the culture wars, and “LAW & ORDER” — that worked so well for him in 2016 appeal only to the Trump diehards and have turned off a broad majority of the country.
“It used to be that he would do five rallies a day and say whatever came off the top of his head and he thinks that won him the election,” said a senior GOP congressional aide, echoing the sentiments of a still-intact class of Republicans appalled by Trump and how he is turning vast swaths of Republican-leaning suburbs into Democratic territory. “It’s like when a 25-year old gets drunk and shows up at a family engagement. That can be cute. But if you’re a 50-year-old and you show up at the gathering drunk and embarrassing, that just hits a little differently. It’s not cute anymore.”
If you don’t read this story for any other reason, read it for the astounding political “advice” offered to Trump by his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
► The City of Aurora announced that Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson is now officially the top cop at the Aurora Police Department. From The Aurora Sentinel:
City Manager Jim Twombly and a majority of city council on Monday night elevated Wilson to the top-cop position in the Aurora Police Department after Wilson served a tumultuous stint as Interim Chief. She was appointed to the temporary position in late December after former chief Nick Metz announced his retirement.
Twombly said that Wilson had “performed so well as Interim Chief.” Her seven-month tenure has been pockmarked with controversies, including contentious protests over the death of Elijah McClain, multiple officers fired for mocking McClain’s death in photos, other officers accused of drinking and driving, and the recent detention of a Black family erroneously suspected of stealing a car.
As Aurora Sentinel Editor Dave Perry writes, Wilson must now figure out how to turn around a police department that is arguably among the worst in the country. The APD’s reputation took another big blow over the weekend, as The Denver Post reports:
Aurora police apologized after a group of Black girls were detained and at least two handcuffed during a weekend investigation of a stolen car. Officers later determined that the vehicle they were seeking had the same license plate number but was from out of state.
A video taken Sunday by a bystander shows the children, ranging in age from 6 to 17 years old, in a parking lot in Aurora, where there have recently been protests over the death of a 23-year-old Black man, Elijah McClain, who was stopped by police last year, KUSA-TV reported.
The video shows the 17-year-old and 12-year-old lying on their stomachs with their hands cuffed behind their backs and a 14-year-old girl lying next to the 6-year-old, also on their stomachs, in a parking lot next to the car. They can be heard crying and screaming as officers stand with their back to the camera. A woman on the other side of the car is shown being led away in handcuffs.
► The Washington Post reports on another troubling example of coronavirus relief funding ending up in the wrong hands:
► According to “The Unaffiliated” newsletter via The Colorado Sun, Republicans are spending a TON of money trying to keep Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election chances alive:
Gardner’s campaign and outside Republican groups aired or booked $24.8 million from July through Nov. 3, according to interviews and records. That compares with $12.3 million for Hickenlooper and the outside Democratic groups backing him.
► Local officials are concerned about a new statement from the U.S. Census Bureau that it will end door-to-door surveying earlier than previously reported.
► Metropolitan State University is furloughing staff in a budget-cutting move.
► The El Paso County Courthouse is scaling back operations after someone on the court’s staff tested positive for COVID-19.
► Westword takes a look at Denver businesses that have been cited for violating social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► You gotta love this headline from The Colorado Springs Gazette:
► A Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Tennessee wants President Trump to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci because…um…well, because the suggestion got him some headlines.
► WHUT? From The Washington Post:
President Trump indicated he is poised to approve a sale of Chinese social media company TikTok to an American company, likely Microsoft, as long as the U.S. Treasury collects “a very large percentage” of the sale price.
Trump’s proposed condition — “which nobody else would be thinking about but me,” he told reporters — confounded legal experts, who noted it had no clear precedent and would likely be illegal.
► Now that President Trump is openly discussing his support for renewing extended unemployment benefits, sycophants like Sen. Cory Gardner are being left to fend for themselves on a politically-dicey subject.
► “Q-Donkulous!” Check out this new game from the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast:
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