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Colorado officials to go on tour to discuss federal stimulus

March 22, 2021 GMT

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Monday announced a statewide tour to hear from residents and gather ideas on how to spend the state’s portion of the federal government’s $1.9 trillion plan to support the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Polis and bipartisan leaders from the state Legislature will be part of the Democrat called a “Build Back Stronger Statewide Listening Tour.”

They will hold in-person and virtual sessions in seven different parts of the state to hear from small business owners, local elected officials and sectors that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

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Under the economic stimulus plan signed by President Joseph Biden this month, Colorado will receive about $3.9 billion in state funds, said Sen. Dominick Moreno, a Democrat who is a member of the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee.

“I think it’s safe to say that no other Legislature will have the opportunity that we do in front of us right now,” Moreno said.

The state’s portion of the federal funding which will be the focus of the statewide tour is separate from the another federal government program that allocates money to U.S. cities and counties, the education sector, small businesses, state unemployment insurance funds and for checks to individuals and families.

“It’s about transparency, it’s about getting into every region of the state,” said Democratic House Speaker Alec Garnett.

The first meeting will take place on March 28 in the city of Pueblo to address the needs of southern Colorado, Polis said.

“Maybe it’s unique, unusual to see Democrats and Republicans standing together, the legislative branch and the executive branch,” said Republican Senate minority leader Chris Holbert. “But these are unique times here in Colorado and they require unique ways to address these situations.”

The tour announcement came as Colorado works to loosen COVID-19 restrictions in response to the number of vaccines administered to high risk groups and a statewide plan for all residents to be eligible for vaccines by mid-April.

Colorado uses a so-called dial to dictate public health restrictions during the pandemic that is based on new coronavirus cases and hospitalization rates. It will be amended with fewer restrictions by Wednesday, according to statement from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Under the dial new setting, the state’s 64 counties could reach “Level Green” with 35 or fewer COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. That would allow bars, gyms, and indoor events to operate with 50% capacity or a 500-person limit, depending on which is less.

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For the “Level Blue” which indicates 36 to 100 cases per 100,000 people — bars will be permitted to open with 25% capacity or 75 people and retail and offices can open to 75% capacity.

Businesses that prove to the state they have enacted enhanced safety precautions can apply to the “5 Star State Certification Program.” If approved, they can operate at up to 60% capacity.

For blue and green levels, counties would be allowed to permit outdoor events without capacity restrictions.

By mid-April, the state health department plans to allow local public health agencies to take more control over capacity restrictions currently set by the dial, the state health department said in its statement.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.