Good morning, Boulder! ❄️ Hope you’re staying warm.

Today’s top story from John Herrick looks at challenges posed by evacuating more than 800 residents from affordable housing during the Marshall Fire, along with government efforts to free up more rentals for those displaced by the disaster.

In our curated content, you’ll find the latest on yesterday’s arrest in Boulder of the former UCLA lecturer who threatened mass violence in California and here at home. Plus weather closings, Covid updates, suggestions for further reading and more.

Got a story tip? My line is always open.

– Jezy, managing editor

A nighttime scene of a residential neighborhood with the faint glimmer of wildfire in the background.
More than 800 Superior and Louisville residents living in government-subsidized or below market rate rentals were evacuated during the Marshall Fire, which destroyed more than 1,000 homes in Boulder County, according to a local housing authority. Credit: Anthony Albidrez

Top Story

Hundreds of affordable homes were spared by the Marshall Fire

More than 800 Superior and Louisville residents living in government-subsidized or below market rate rentals were evacuated during the Marshall Fire, according to the Boulder County Housing Authority (BCHA). Most have now returned home, BCHA reported. But that good news was followed by bad: a tight rental market just got much tighter. Read the full story

Quickly

⏱️ Very cold, with snow continuing throughout the day. Car commuters will have a tough time this morning. Follow NWS Boulder for updates.
⏱️ Covid testing sites at Centaurus and the St. Vrain Innovation Center are closed today due to weather.
⏱️ Same goes for testing sites at the Fairgrounds and Stazio Fields.
⏱️ All of CU Boulder and BVSD are also closed. Are you sensing a theme?
⏱️ Add Boulder County offices to the list. That includes Boulder County Public Health and the 20th Judicial District Courts. All closed!
⏱️ Boulder police arrested 31-year-old Matthew Harris yesterday for threatening mass violence, activating a SWAT team and issuing a shelter-in-place order for 65 homes near the 900 block of N. Broadway.
⏱️ Also yesterday: Boulder City Council voted 6-3 to approve a memorandum of understanding between the Boulder Police Department and the FBI to share resources and coordinate law enforcement activities. 
⏱️ Investigation into the origin of the Marshall Fire is “nearing completion,” according to an update from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. It could be several weeks or months before findings are released.
⏱️ Children’s Hospital Colorado will host a virtual town hall on mental health today, from 6-7 p.m. Register here.
⏱️ Phased opening of trails and trailheads in the Marshall Mesa/Greenbelt Plateau areas will be underway in February, with the goal of opening as many trails as possible by end of month.
⏱️ All muddy trail closures have been lifted at Heil Valley Ranch, thanks to recent snowfall and frigid temperatures.

Covid-19 in Boulder County: Feb. 2, 2022

  • 529 daily new cases (7-day avg.)  Down 33% over preceding 7-day avg. (Note: This data was last updated Jan. 25.)
  • 83 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 40 since July 2020.
  • 71% percent of ICU is occupied. About the same as avg. of 72% since July 2020.
  • Data: Here’s how and where we’re tracking all of the above.

Latest Covid news

  • Denver’s mask mandate expires tomorrow. Via the city: “The expiration of the original Nov. 24 indoor face covering order does not change face covering requirements in schools and childcare facilities, where face coverings have been required since Aug. 2021. Denver continues to closely monitor vaccination rates and cases in children and will lift the school face covering order when it’s safe to do so.” (Boulder County’s mandate “remains in effect for all public spaces.”)
  • New terminology. In keeping with CDC, Boulder County Public Health is adopting new terminology: “Fully vaccinated means a person has received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. This means either 2 doses of a mRNA vaccine (Pfizer given 21 days apart or Moderna given 28 days apart) or 1 dose of Johnson and Johnson. Up to date means a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible.” 
  • A vaccine mandate is removed. As of last Friday, vaccine requirements for large events of 500+ people have been removed by an amendment to state public health order 20-38. The amended order applies to Arapahoe, Adams, Boulder, and Jefferson counties — as well as the City and County of Denver, and the City and County of Broomfield.  
  • Federal approval for Moderna. The pharmaceutical company’s Covid-19 vaccine, marketed under the brand name Spikevax, has received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for people ages 18 and older. “All available COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective, and the state remains focused on vaccinating as many eligible Coloradans as possible.”

BRL Picks

🎸 Music for Marshall. A concert benefiting Boulder County fire victims kicks off Friday evening at the Boulder Theater. The bill features Drunken Hearts & Friends with special guests from the String Cheese Incident, Elephant Revival, Leftover Salmon and more.
❄️️ Let it snow. Learn about winter climatology and safety with a NWS livestream event tonight from 5–6 p.m. Topics include: criteria for winter warnings and advisories, winter safety tips and the 6-10 day outlook. Tune in on Facebook.
🤑 Show me the money. Need help applying for a Boulder Arts Commission grant? The Grant Writing Fund offers assistance to first-time applicants and those who have never received a grant through the commission. Learn more here.

What We’re Reading

  • Frightening day on Broadway. University Hill Elementary School was evacuated and 65 homes were on lockdown order yesterday as Boulder police arrested 31-year-old Matthew Harris for threatening mass violence in an 800-word manifesto. “After reviewing parts of the lengthy manifesto, BPD identified thousands of references to violence, stating things such as ‘killing, death, murder, shooting, bombs, schoolyard massacre and Boulder’ and phrases like ‘burn and attack Boulder outside by the university.'” [City of Boulder]
  • The price of parenthood. On average, a two-child Colorado family spends 14% of its annual income on child care — that’s double the 7% threshold of what’s considered “affordable” by the Department of Health and Human Services. “In 2018, a single parent with an infant in Colorado spent almost 50% of their income on a child care center and a single parent with two children spent over 86% of their income, according to a report from Child Care Aware of America, a network of child care resources and agencies.” [Colorado Newsline]
  • Antibody anxiety. A new study from National Jewish Health expands the map on who might be at risk of Covid-19 vaccine failure. “Out of a sample of more than 300 patients suffering from chronic illness and being treated at the hospital, about 20% did not have detectable antibodies two weeks or more following vaccination. People on rituximab were especially at risk, but so too were people with congestive heart failure or interstitial lung disease — conditions not previously associated with vaccine failure.” [Colorado Sun]

ICYMI from BRL

🔥 Marshall Fire reignites grief among victims of last fall’s Pearl Street blaze. One couple lost everything they owned at the Whittier Place apartment complex in downtown Boulder, where 81 units were destroyed in October. Two months later, they were displaced again by one of the most devastating wildfires in Colorado history. 
Today is the deadline to claim unemployment as a result of the Marshall Fire. The state is processing at least 392 applications for unemployment benefits from residents who say they lost work due to the disaster, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “This help is here for a reason and people should apply,” said Boulder County’s disaster recovery manager.

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Have a story tip for us?
Send us your ideas at tips@boulderreportinglab.org.

– The BRL Team

Jezy J. Gray

I’m the managing editor of the Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, I was the final editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Voice, a local bi-weekly newspaper where I led a small but mighty team of journalists to regional and national honors in feature writing, diversity reporting, LGBTQ+ coverage and more. I look forward to listening to and learning from the Boulder community as we work together on telling the stories that matter here.