Welcome to the first edition of the Boulder Reporting Lab’s morning newsletter, BRL Today.

👋 I’m Stacy Feldman. You’ll see Jezy Gray (managing editor) and John Herrick (reporter) as authors here, too, in newsletters to come. Here’s what to expect in each edition of BRL Today: 

  • We’ll summarize and link to our original reporting and news briefs
  • We’ll curate useful community information
  • We’ll give you a snapshot of up-to-date, localized Covid-19 data and news

You’ll find BRL Today in your inbox three days a week to start — Monday, Wednesday, Friday. We’ll ramp up to five days ASAP. Check out our website: Stories will be published there every day.

—Stacy, publisher

Boulder Reservoir on Nov. 21, 2021. Credit: Anthony Albidrez

Top Stories

Boulder’s hospitals are filling up. Not all patients have Covid-19.

Headlines abound about low hospital capacity across Colorado. But what exactly is happening in Boulder? Reporter John Herrick found that on any given day, Boulder County’s four major hospitals have been treating at least 80 patients infected with the coronavirus. That’s the highest number since the wave last November. Intensive care units are about 86% full, leaving just 10 beds available for those with sometimes life-threatening illnesses. Yet the situation is far more complicated than the data suggests. Read the full story.

Election data breakdown: Turnout among Boulder voters highlights wide participation gap in off-year elections

In one voting precinct on University Hill, turnout was in the single-digits this off-year election cycle, suggesting that most college students didn’t vote at all this year. Meanwhile, students elsewhere in the country have rallied around the issue of housing occupancy limits, a policy that Question 300 on this year’s Boulder ballot sought to change. Click through for an interactive map showing turnout figures for every precinct in Boulder County. Read the full story.

Boulder’s new independent, nonprofit newsroom has arrived. Here’s why we’re launching and what you can expect.

Today marks our official entrance on the journalistic scene in Boulder. Turns out, we’re part of a long history of news innovation in our city that is as old as Boulder itself. Read the full story.


Covid-19 in Boulder County: Nov. 22, 2021*

  • 130 daily new cases (7-day avg.) 🔺Up 4% over last week.
  • 81 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 36.
  • 59% of ICU is occupied by Covid patients 🔺Up from avg. of 21%.
  • 86% percent of ICU is occupied in total 🔺Up from avg. of 73%.
  • *Data. Here’s how and where we’re tracking all of the above.

Latest Covid news

  • Vaccine goal. The county wants to get 14,000 children (ages 5-11) vaccinated by Jan. 31, 2022.
  • Progress toward that goal. As of Friday, 6,300 kids 5-11 had received one dose, according to the county. That’s 27% of that age group’s population.
  • Children 0-11. They still have highest case rates in the county.
  • Universal mask mandate. Boulder County Public Health has urged Gov. Jared Polis to adopt one — along with vaccine passports for high-risk indoor settings.
  • Vaccination proof. This is now required at “unseated events” with 500+ people in and around Boulder County.
  • Boosters. Every Coloradan age 18+ is now eligible for one. Available at any vaccine provider.

BRL Picks

🦃 Thanksgiving Day: where to dine out. Several restaurants are prepping Thanksgiving dinner so you don’t have to. Via Downtown Boulder.
🚲 14th annual holiday bike giveaway for kids! Via Community Cycles. 300+ bikes. Dec. 4 and Dec. 11. Donate or volunteer.
🏫 Green our schools. Join BVSD’s new Sustainability Advisory Committee, or nominate a member. BVSD’s green action plan (2021-2026) was published in September. The district is looking for committee members to oversee progress. Quarterly meetings start spring 2022. Learn how to apply here.
⛰️ New trail opens. The 3-mile Anemone Loop Trail west of downtown Boulder is officially open. Hours: Monday through Friday, only after 5 p.m. All day Saturday and Sunday. The trail was designed with “sustainable trail building principles.”

What We’re Reading

  • KC Becker heads to EPA. The White House has named the Boulder Democrat and former Colorado House Speaker to lead the EPA’s regional headquarters in Denver. Becker has a long track record of climate change leadership. [Colorado Newsline]
  • Fentanyl deaths in Boulder. The Colorado Sun’s blockbuster three-part investigation into youth fentanyl deaths in Boulder County has sparked outrage and calls to action from community members. Reporting by Jennifer Brown and Olivia Prentzel found 14 confirmed deadly overdoses in the county, with other cases pending, and detailed a lacking response by Boulder County and law enforcement in warning the community. Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty tweeted in response to the findings: “Colorado must increase the penalties for fentanyl distribution.” [Colorado Sun]


📈 We’ve developed a methodology for tracking Covid in Boulder. How John Herrick is monitoring rates of cases, hospital capacity and school outbreaks.
😷 About 1 in 5 BVSD students are enrolled in district’s voluntary Covid testing program, designed to catch potential outbreaks before they spiral out of control.
💻 A living laboratory for hyperlocal journalism in Boulder, Co. More about what we’re building, and why.

About Us

Hi. We’re Boulder’s new nonprofit newsroom. Our mission is to help you get more informed about the issues you care about and more connected to the city you love. To do this, we provide high-quality, original journalism on the most pressing issues plus curated community information — all paywall-free. Learn more about us here.

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We’re just getting started, but we have BIG plans. Already like what you see? Consider becoming a BRL member today.

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Learn about our sponsorship program to reach our growing audience and help public-interest local journalism thrive.
Email: sponsorships@boulderreportinglab.org.

Thanks for reading!

Our journalism depends on you.
Have a story tip for us?
Send us your ideas at tips@boulderreportinglab.org.

– The BRL Team

Stacy Feldman is the founder and publisher of Boulder Reporting Lab. She previously co-founded and was executive editor of Inside Climate News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit newsroom covering the climate emergency. She was a 2020-21 Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she developed the concept for BRL. Email: stacy@boulderreportinglab.org.