Congratulations, Boulder — you’re halfway through the week! 🎉 Why not celebrate with your morning edition of BRL Today?

Amid fallout from the Marshall Fire, we’ve updated our explainer on CU scientists’ guide to mitigating post-smoke problems indoors. Need to know which model of air cleaner is the right size for your home? Got a question about fire debris removal safety? The experts are in.

You’ll also find reporting from John Herrick on a proposal to the city from Boulder-based nonprofits for a new shelter and services hub for people experiencing homelessness. Plus curation of resources for fire victims and ways to help, along with your usual dose of Covid-19 updates and other essential community information.

Got a story tip? A photo to share? Words of wisdom? We’re listening.

– Jezy, managing editor

Boulder County residents gathered at Centaurus High School parking lot for the City of Lafayette’s 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. March for Peace on Jan. 17. The march was transformed into a car parade and drive-in program to allow for safe social distancing. Credit: Anthony Albidrez

Top Stories

Amid debate, Boulder’s nonprofits propose new shelter as a hub for homeless services

Nonprofits want the city’s help finding a location for a 24-hour shelter. A city official overseeing housing policy said there are no city-owned properties that would be able to sleep up to 100 people. Read the full story

Post-smoke problems are among the many concerns surrounding fallout from the Marshall Fire. Here’s how to mitigate harmful effects inside your home.

Worried about air quality in your home, or know someone who is? CU Boulder scientists offer helpful tips and facts related to indoor air quality after the most destructive wildfire in state history. Read the full story

Quickly

⏱️ A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect through this evening, per NWS. Expect freezing drizzle, light snow and highs in the upper 20s.
⏱️ NWS says icy roads will make morning car commutes especially treacherous. Careful on the sidewalks, too!
⏱️ The Colorado Division of Insurance is hosting a series of insurance-focused town halls over the coming weeks to help fire-affected Boulder County residents navigate the processes of filing claims with the help of insurance experts.
⏱️ The next insurance town hall is today at 5:30 p.m. The focus will be on partial losses to homes that were not destroyed.
⏱️ More insurance resources: a webinar on wildfire recovery insurance, hosted by United Policyholders on Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. Register here.
⏱️ Reminder: Fire victims are invited to attend an online community meeting on Thursday, Jan. 20, 6–7:30 p.m. Topics will include debris removal and ongoing public health concerns related to ash and air quality.
⏱️ A separate meeting for unincorporated Boulder County residents — focused on rebuilding homes — is scheduled for today, 6-8 p.m.
⏱️ All Marshall Mesa area trails easy of Hwy 93 are closed — this includes Mayhoffer, Meadowlark, High Plains, Coalton and more.
⏱️ The following Heil Valley Ranch trails are now open: Picture Rock, Wild Turkey, Ponderosa Loop and northern Wapiti.
⏱️ All of Valmont Bike Park remains closed (with the exception of the asphalt pump track) due to snow and mud.
⏱️ Order forms are now open for free at-home Covid tests from the federal government. Takes about five seconds!
⏱️ Have you been a victim of price gouging in the wake of the Marshall Fire? Request an investigation through the Boulder County Community Protection Division, and/or file a claim with the Colorado Attorney General’s office.
⏱️ For more on price gouging after disasters (which is illegal), see our interview with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.
⏱️ Boulder city staff shared their “initial scoping” of the City Council’s proposed 2022 work priorities. Details here.
⏱️ Did you apply for FEMA assistance due to fire or winds? Be sure to notify the agency of changes to information like your mailing address, and let them know if you discover additional damage or receive an insurance settlement.

Covid-19 in Boulder County: Jan. 19, 2022

  • 794 daily new cases (7-day avg.)  🔺Up 108% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 82 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 40 since July 2020.
  • 67% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 72% since July 2020.
  • Data: Here’s how and where we’re tracking all of the above.

Latest Covid news

  • BVSD updates exposure notification policy. Citing high case numbers and a staffing shortage, BVSD will no longer send courtesy notices to classrooms in which a student has tested positive for Covid-19. “We are putting a priority on high-risk situations in which exposures may occur. Only high-risk exposures (indoor athletics and special circumstances) will continue to receive exposure and quarantine guidance,” spokesperson Randy Barber wrote in an update on the BVSD website.
  • Pediatric vaccine appointments. Boulder County kids ages 5–11 have more opportunities to receive first and second doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Della Cava Medical Pavilion (4801 Riverbend Rd.) Register here for one of the following Friday vaccine clinic dates:
    • Feb. 4 (2-6 p.m.): 1st and 2nd doses
    • Feb. 11 (2-6 p.m.): 1st and 2nd doses
    • Feb. 25 (2-6 p.m.): 2nd dose only
    • Mar. 4 (2-6 p.m.): 2nd dose only
  • Stay vigilant. That’s the message from Boulder County Public Health, which is urging residents to remain cautious despite an apparent downward trend in Covid case numbers. Officials say the decline could be the result of a case backlog from the state health department.

BRL Picks

⛸️ Love and skate. The Boulder County Wildfire Fund will get a boost on Thursday at WinterSkate in historic downtown Louisville. Drop by from 3–9 p.m. to support relief efforts. $10 per person entry fee includes skate rental.
🍕 Compassion by the slice. Abo’s Pizza is still offering free food for fire victims and first responders. If you need a meal or would like to donate, come to the South Boulder location at 637 S Broadway or call 303-494-1274.
🚲 Relief on two wheels. Community Cycles is still looking for donated bicycles to help fire victims with everyday transportation. Need a bike? Email Community Cycles with info like your height, address and a brief description of how you’ll be using it. Got a bike to donate? Drop it by the shop at 2601 Spruce St. between 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
🛍️ Fire free market. Remember the new free market for fire victims opening Feb. 3? They’ve announced a location: Wibbly Brewing at 209 Emery St. in Longmont. Now they need volunteers, starting tomorrow, who can help load, unload and deliver donations. Sign up here.
🗣️ Translating care. Boulder County Community Action Programs (CAP) is offering “culturally responsive support” to help people whose first language isn’t English navigate the Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) in Lafayette. They need volunteers who can speak Nepalese, Chinese, Korean, Hindu and Spanish to act as “cultural brokers” to those language communities. Email for more details.

What We’re Reading

  • 🏠 Boulder County rules for home construction did not apply to structures in Marshall Fire burn area. The most destructive wildfire to property in Colorado history is spurring questions about fire readiness in communities across the state, as climate change makes future disasters more likely. “Colorado does not have statewide regulations on how homes should be built or rules on how landscaping and other open space should be managed to survive wildfires better. A handful of other states do. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, thoughtful changes to both can greatly increase the chances of a home surviving a wildfire.” [CPR]
  • 🧠 Medicaid and mental health. Licensed mental and behavioral healthcare providers are in high demand for patients in Colorado’s Medicaid program, but practitioners say it can take months to get approved. “Therapists, psychologists and others in private practice across the state are asking why — when the goal is to increase their numbers — is it so hard to get permission to join the Medicaid program? And they’re questioning whether the state’s numbers showing a surge in Medicaid providers are accurate.” [Colorado Sun]

ICYMI

🕊️ A conversation on on wildfire loss, grief — and hope. Climate activist and 2021 Boulder City Council candidate David Takahashi talks to BRL Publisher Stacy Feldman about the best (and worst) advice he got after losing his home to the Fourmile Canyon Fire in 2010.
💧 Hundreds of complaints about Superior’s water have been filed following the Marshall Fire. Health officials say they have found no evidence of unhealthy contamination — but they have not released information indicating whether any of the water samples analyzed so far were taken near the homes of residents who have complained of smoky water.

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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.