Senator Steve Fenberg | Town Hall Congressman Neguse
16312
page-template-default,page,page-id-16312,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-theme-ver-6.2,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.0.1,vc_responsive
 

 

Town Hall with Majority Leader Fenberg and Congressman Joe Neguse

Fri, April 10, 2020

INTRODUCTION AND UPDATES 

 

  • Senator Fenberg’s update on the State level: 
      • There have been several steps taken at the state level to help protect Coloradans including several Executive Orders put in place by the Governor including the Stay-At-Home order, suspension of all public and private schools, prohibition on large gatherings, and more. We now have evidence that these measures are working. Our rate of infection has dropped from doubling every 3 days to every 6 or 7. This is a definite flattening of the curve, giving our hospitals more time to prepare for the surge of patients who will require critical care. Additionally, the State Legislature is currently adjourned. As things progressed back in March, we knew it was the safest choice for both our staff, as well as the public looking to engage in the legislative process, to adjourn the session, and reconvene when things were safe again. Once we return, one of the most pressing issues we will need to address is the state budget, which needs to be passed by June 30th. The impact of COVID-19 has resulted in a loss of about $2 billion in state revenue, which means that budget conversation is going to be much more challenging.
  • Congressman Neguse’s update on the Federal level:
      • We at the Federal level are so grateful for the work our state legislators and Governor are doing to protect Coloradans. As a state, we have taken huge steps to  ensure that we flatten the curve and keep our citizens safe and healthy. That being said, there are big improvements happening at the federal level. As most of you know, we have passed several acts that look to protect and offer relief for Americans, the most recent and impactful being the CARES Act. This Act is a $2 trillion relief package. While, in my opinion, there were clearly some gaps in protection and relief for Americans, I am proud that we were able to pass that 9 days ago. I am hopeful that there will be more legislation to come, offering additional relief and resources for those impacted most by COVID-19.
  • Dr. Robert Vissers’ update from Boulder Community Hospital:
      • What we know right now is that the steps we are taking are working. People are, and should continue, to stay at home, practicing social distancing measures, as well as washing their hands. We want to let Boulder County residents know that just because COVID-19 is happening, it does not mean other health concerns stop. We encourage those who need immediate medical attention to come into our hospital. We have safety measures in place to keep you safe and to get you the care that you need. The last thing that we want is for people to be ignoring other serious medical issues for fear of contracting the virus.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

 

  1. This virus has impacted marginalized communities in different ways than the rest of the population. What is happening at the federal level to help ease that situation?
      • We joined other Democrats in asking ICE and the facility managed by GEO in Aurora to consider offering “humanitarian parole” opportunities to those being detained on non-violent immigration charges. Since then, the facility has begun releasing some individuals on humanitarian parole, and we hope that this step will slow any spread of COVID-19 in the facility. We have been encouraging them to take the same kind of social distancing measures as those outside the facility do, and we continue to work with specific folks inside the facility to ensure that they are taking all necessary precautions. There is more to do on that front. Please reach out to Erika Blum in Congressman Neguse’s office for additional questions or for more information.
  2. I am a 1099 employee. I thought the CARES Act covered me for unemployment benefits, but the website says it doesn’t?
      • Traditionally unemployment insurance is not available to gig, 1099 or contracted employees. The CARES Act did, in fact, grant benefits to employees like yourself. Before the states could begin setting up systems for those types of claims, the federal treasury had to issue guidelines to states on how to navigate them and that guidance was just put out this week. Those working in the CO Dept of Labor and Employment CDLE, which administers unemployment, have been working tirelessly to get this system up and running, which we anticipate will happen soon. Those claims will be back-paid, so you will receive benefits since your last day of work, despite the delay from the unemployment office. Please keep in touch through our websites and social media for updates (listed at the bottom of this email).
  3. If I had COVID-19 before, am I immune now?
      • We believe that COVID-19 acts as other colds, flus, or infections that we encounter everyday. While you do build certain antibodies that may help you to fight off a second round of infection, it remains to be seen whether or not you will be fully immune and how long that immunity will last.
  4. Do I really need to wear a mask?
      • The masks that we encourage people to wear in public are to protect others. We do know that patients can be asymptomatic (not showing symptoms) and could be infecting others without knowing they are doing so. Wearing a mask any time you leave the house will help. That being said, the best thing you can do is stay at home. We know that washing hands, not touching your face, and staying away from others remain the best way to stop the spread of the virus.
  5. I’m concerned about the impact this is having on voting across the country. What is Colorado doing to prepare? 
      • We are in a better position than most here in Colorado because of our mail-in voting system. Further, we have been discussing increasing the number of drop boxes for ballots, as well as the possibility of paying for postage.
  6. Certain ballot measures need to collect signatures in person to be on the ballot this fall, how do we get people to sign something but still remain safe? 
      • This is a big concern that we are talking to several people about, including the Secretary of State’s office, the Governor’s office, advocacy groups, and more. Several years ago we passed online voter registration. Implementing an online system for ballot initiatives would likely require a judgement from the Colorado Supreme Court. Other options include extending deadlines or mailing signature packets asking for return. We’re getting creative while still following the guidelines and the Constitution.
  7. Does Congressman Neguse feel confident that there will be additional bills and support for those in small businesses and healthcare fields?
      • We recognize that we need to make some serious changes and pass a second version of the CARES Act. These conversations remain fluid and full of compromise and negotiations. There were several gaps in that first bill that left certain groups of people and businesses out of the relief. I remain optimistic that Congress will continue to push for more relief from home until we return to DC.
  8. Is Colorado going to be putting a tracing program together similar to Massachusetts? 
      • For those unfamiliar, Massachusetts put together a plan to make sure those with COVID-19 can trace back their steps to alert those who may have been exposed — which is a similar concept to alerting those whom you may have had sexual contact with after being diagnosed with an STI. While that is an important part of understanding who those contacts are, it’s especially vital very early on. It is our understanding that the Governor is looking into a variety of options with regards to tracing, and we expect to hear more on this in the next few weeks.
  9. Where does Senator Fenberg’s Air Quality bill stand? We know that communities in Colorado that have poor air quality have a higher chance of needing hospitalization if they contract COVID-19, so it seems we need this bill more than ever. Will it still be passed when you return? 
      • “Clean Up Colorado’s Air Act” was introduced just days before we adjourned. So while it is not moving through the legislature at the moment, it is still pending. We need this bill more so after COVID-19 because we know there’s even more risk and reason for these communities to get the proper air quality they deserve. While there is a limited amount of time remaining in the session, it is my every intention to champion this bill and do everything I can to get it through.
  10. I am confused about rent freezes, foreclosures, and about my mobile home. What are my options? My landlord isn’t listening to the guidelines. 
      • The Governor issued an Executive Order issuing a grace period for rent, as well as a stay on evictions. For those in mobile homes, please reach out to the Christina Postolowski, program manager of the Mobile Home Park Oversight Program. She can be reached at 303.864.7859 or you can email her here. Several housing advocates compiled this Tenant’s Guide on Foreclosure and Eviction that is filled with accurate and helpful information on this topic. The Dept of Local Affairs has set up a website, where you can type in your address and they will connect you with non-profits in your area that can assist with eviction prevention. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our office at steve@stevefenberg.org should you need further assistance.

Contact Information

 

Senator Steve Fenberg 
Email: steve@stevefenberg.org
Website: stevefenberg.org 

Congressman Joe Neguse 
Email: here
Website: neguse.house.gov 

Dr. Robert Vissers 
Website: BCH.org