Colorado governor appeals to residents to stem virus uptick

DENVER (AP) — Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday appealed to the resolve of residents, rather than new government mandates, to stem what he called an alarming acceleration of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Colorado.

To that end, Polis announced a public awareness campaign, Step Up Colorado, designed to reinforce personal responsibility in mask-wearing, social distancing, getting tested, self-quarantining and other behaviors to stem the virus’s spread.

In a briefing on the pandemic, Polis refused to say new statewide actions are needed and suggested roughly 80% of the pandemic fight comes down to personal decisions. He insisted local health agencies, such as those in Denver and Mesa counties, which are seeing rising numbers of cases, are best prepared to address that increase with residents.

Polis cited Boulder County, where health authorities imposed drastic measures on social gatherings three weeks ago and brought down the number of new cases from 150 per day to 30 per day.

Left unchecked, the upward trends in new confirmed cases and hospitalizations could test hospital intensive-care capacity in December, the Democratic governor said.

The state reported 1,208 new cases on Tuesday and 417 virus hospitalizations. There are roughly 1,800 intensive-care beds statewide for all health emergencies, Polis said. More than three-quarters of those beds were occupied for all reasons over the previous week, the state health department said Monday.

Health officials reported there were nearly 17 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents Friday, roughly matching the state’s highest recorded rate in April.

More than 2,000 people have died of the virus in Colorado, which has reported more than 80,000 positive cases. The number of cases is probably higher because of a lack of testing and other reasons.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

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Appeals court upholds Kentucky abortion law requiring clinics to have transfer agreements with hospitals

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a Kentucky law that requires abortion clinics to have written agreements with a hospital and ambulance service in case of medical emergencies.

The 2-1 ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a 2018 district court ruling that found the law, first passed in 1998, violated constitutionally protected due process rights.

EMW Women’s Surgical Center first challenged the law in 2017 after a licensing fight with then-Gov. Matt Bevin (R). EMW was the only clinic that provided abortions at the time, and Bevin claimed that it lacked proper transfer agreements and took steps to shut it down.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky joined the suit later on, claiming that Bevin had used these transfer agreements to block its request for a license to provide abortions. After Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear took office in 2019, the two clinics were allowed to provide abortions.

The court wrote that the “district court erred in concluding that Kentucky would be left without an abortion facility,” according to The Associated Press, and dismissed the clinics’ argument that they were at risk of closing. It further said that the law allows clinics to apply for a 90-day waiver if they are denied a licensing agreement, which they could theoretically reapply for and continue to operate.

“(We) must presume that the Inspector General will consider waiver applications in good faith and will not act ‘simply to make it more difficult for (women) to obtain an abortion,’” the ruling read.

In his dissenting opinion, Judge Eric Clay wrote that it “condones the evisceration of the constitutional right to abortion access in Kentucky.”

“At the end of the day, no matter what standard this Court is bound to apply, the majority’s decision today is terribly and tragically wrong,” he wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which represented the clinics, said in a statement that Kentucky’s law means abortion providers have to navigate “needless red tape every 90 days” and warned that the state could be the first without any abortion providers if the governor refuses to grant the waiver.

“This is what it looks like when politicians chip away at protections under Roe — pushing medically unnecessary laws that jeopardize abortion access without ever overturning Roe,” Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement.

“It must be stated that we are in a dangerous moment for abortion rights and what this moment calls for is leadership to put all people before politics and do what’s necessary to ensure every person has access to the care they need and deserve,” Charbonneau added.

Abortion rights have become a hot-button issue this election, as Democrats worry that the impending Senate confirmation of Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettRepublicans increasingly seek distance from Trump Overnight Health Care: Pfizer could apply for vaccine authorization by late November | State health officials say they need .4B for vaccination effort | CDC: Blacks, Hispanics dying of COVID-19

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