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Bandimere Speedway family argues race track will close if forced to comply with public health orders
In an escalating legal fight between the owners of the Bandimere Speedway and public health officials, owner John Bandimere argued Wednesday in Jefferson County District Court that his family’s business would shutter if forced to limit crowd sizes to 175 people as the new coronavirus pandemic continues.
Rebecca Klymkowsky, an attorney representing Jefferson County Public Health, argued the pandemic presented a public health crisis that supersedes the race track’s desire to operate.
“It is not enough for Bandimere to say our attendees want to attend,” Klymkowsky said. “This is larger than Bandimere. It involves the entire community. It involves the entire country. When you consider it in that context, the public interest is in keeping individuals safe.”
The feud began July 2 when the health department sought and received a temporary restraining order against Bandimere. The order required the race track to limit its crowd sizes to 175 people per activity during its July 4 events and to follow social distancing guidelines. But the county health agency said the race track violated the order, which led to Wednesday’s hearing.
The fight has become a flashpoint in political arguments over whether people should be forced to comply with public health orders or allowed to make personal choices as the pandemic surges. The hearing, which was conducted online, drew an audience that sometimes led District Court Judge Tamara Russell to remind listeners to mute their microphones and to respect the court’s decorum rules.
During his testimony, Bandimere argued public health officials did not have better ideas for how the race track could operate safely, and although his family tried to put rules in place they couldn’t control individual behavior.
“I think that’s freedom,” Bandimere said. “It’s freedom to make choices for ourselves. It’s freedom to do things we feel are adequate for our own personal beliefs and our own activities we participate in.”
Randy Corporon, Bandimere’s attorney, argued that the county’s restrictions were unreasonable, improper and would shut down the race track.
“It’s paragraph after paragraph after paragraph, and subparagraph after subparagraph after subparagraph of things they’re asking them to do,” he said. “It will put this 62-year-old family business out of business.”
Bandimere said the speedway took precautions to protect the approximately 7,000 attendees who turned out for the July 4 event, including cutting attendance by about half of a normal holiday event, bringing in hand-washing and sanitizing stations, reminding guests to social distance and suggesting they wear a mask.
When Corporon asked Bandimere to describe what he saw in a photograph depicting fewer race fans than usual at the July 4 event, Bandimere said,”I see a lot of lost revenue.”
James Rada, a JeffCo public health employee sent to observe the track on July 4, said he saw attendees attempting to follow the rules but also witnessed guests gathering in crowds and wearing masks improperly. Employees occasionally failed to correct customers, Rada said.
Corporon called Rada a spy who was “trying to build a case” against the speedway. Instead, Rada could have corrected people himself or alerted employees or the Bandimeres to alleged health violations as they happened.
“How much do you want them to destroy their own business?” Corporon asked. “How can they have the big events they need to survive if they can’t put people in the seats?”
In his questioning of Mark Johnson, executive director of Jefferson County Public Health, Corporon noted that coronavirus deaths largely impacted the elderly and said there were plenty of better ways to protect the elderly than to close the race track.
Johnson agreed that the great majority at risk of dying of COVID-19 were elderly.
“Death is not the only thing we’re concerned about,” Johnson said. “We’re concerned about illness, the use of resources, overwhelming our healthcare system and concerned very much about young people who are infectious to older people. They go home, infect their parents or grandparents….Many people may not die, but they can get very ill and will take a lot of healthcare resources.”
The court hearing will resume at 8 a.m. Thursday, beginning with more testimony from Bandimere. As Wednesday’s hearing ended, Russell acknowledged the political and community issues surrounding the case but said she hoped attorneys came prepared to present legal arguments.
“I know you guys have a loyal fanbase,” Russell said. “But ultimately I have to focus on the legal arguments, not the ones that tug at your heartstrings.”
A district court judge in Jefferson County has ordered Bandimere Speedway to comply with COVID-19 public health regulations limiting the number of people who can be in the stands during the race and fireworks show planned for the Fourth of July.
The judge on Thursday granted Jefferson County Public Health’s request for a temporary restraining order requiring the Morrison racetrack to comply with state public health orders for outdoor events, which limit crowd sizes to 175 people, require six feet of social distancing between attendees and bar food service.
“We are pleased with the result, but can’t comment further because it is still pending litigation,” Ashley Sever, a spokeswoman for the health department, said in an email Friday.
Bandimere is scheduled to host the Brakes Plus Jet Car Nationals — which includes an evening fireworks show, one of the few in the metro area — on Saturday, according to its website.
Efforts by The Denver Post and other media to speak to Bandmere representatives this week have been unsuccessful. News of the temporary restraining order was first reported Friday by the Canyon Courier.
Mark Johnson, executive director of Jefferson County Public Health, previously had sent a letter to Bandimere alleging the track had been admitting too many fans in violation of state health orders meant to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Johnson said the racetrack has been selling tickets for all seats in all rows at its events, which would prevent any attempts at social distancing. He noted that some of the ticket packages come with buffet-style meals, also prohibited under the state health department’s rules over concerns diners will pass along the virus.
The letter from Jeffco Public Health ordered track officials to submit a plan to comply by 5 p.m. Wednesday. They failed to do that.
Coronavirus infections have increased among younger Coloradans in recent weeks, a trend that mirrors what is happening in states like Arizona, Florida and Texas where COVID-19 cases are surging.
Overall, the number of novel coronavirus cases in Colorado has increased slightly in recent weeks, but the state has not yet seen the same level of spikes in cases as some other states. As a result, public health officials are urging residents to forgo large gatherings to prevent Colorado from following in those states’ footsteps.
“We’re certainly at a critical point right now,” said Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, adding, “If we need to take action to potentially decrease transmission we’ll look into what those strategies need to be for Colorado.”
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Colorado rose last week for the first time since late April, and appear to be continuing that upward trend this week.
In the past four weeks, total COVID-19 infections statewide have increased by about 25%. But among children, teens and young adults that rate is even higher.
The rate of infection among those between the ages 10 and 19jumped 53.5% over the same period, according to a Denver Post analysis of data from the state health department.
The infection rate among those under 10 years old also increased by 47.5%. And for those in their 20s and 30s, the infection rate grew by 40.3% and 26%, respectively.
It’s unclear exactly why there has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, but local public health officials have reported clusters of cases among teens and young adults in various counties.
Young adults and teens also are more likely to be mobile and interact with each other, which increases their risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus, according to public health experts.
So far, there are no indications that the racial justice protests that have taken place over the past month have led to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
In fact, one study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that during the demonstrations more people stayed home. So while the disease may have been transmitted during the protests, there was overall an increase in social distancing in the cities with civil unrest.
“That could change,” said Glen Mays, a professor of health policy at the Colorado School of Public Health. “But at this stage, I don’t think we have any strong evidence that protesters themselves encountered any heightened risk.”
The concern over social gatherings is such that Gov. Jared Polis earlier this week repeatedly discouraged Coloradans from coming together in large groups, including for July 4 celebrations. However, he made no move to the reverse the state’s reopening process, which could soon allow for bigger events.
“We’re not saying that individuals shouldn’t be out enjoying Colorado this summer,” Herlihy said. “But they should be doing it in a safe way.”
Rising cases among teens and young adults
Other states also have reported jumps in infections among younger people. In Arizona, almost half of the state’s cases are made up of people 20 to 44years old, according to the state’s health department.
Young adults and teenagers are at a lower risk of complications from COVID-19, but they can still face difficulties and hospitalizations from the disease. They can also be asymptomatic carriers, meaning they can transmit the virus to those who are more at risk of complications without experiencing severe symptoms themselves.
Herlihy has estimated that the asymptomatic rate among young people is about 50%.
So far, the outbreak in Colorado has affected older individuals at a higher rate than their younger peers. For example, individuals 80 and older make up just more than 3% of the state’s population, but account for 7.15% of cases and 53.5% of deaths, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment.
A concern about these clusters of cases is that they indicate continued community transmission of the disease, said Eagle County spokeswoman Kris Widlak.
“What we’re trying to do is slow the spread,” Widlak said. “So if any group is spreading it more quickly, we have concern.”
Herlihy estimated that Colorado’s “R-naught” value, which reflects the average number of people infected by one person, likely surpassed 1 in mid-June. This means each person with the virus is potentially transmitting the disease to more people.
“Now is not the time to feel like the battle is won and that we can relax things,” Mays said. “We’re still at a very tenuous time.”
On Friday, the state reported 317 new cases of the novel coronavirus. Of those, 313 were for people who tested positive in recent days, while the rest were older cases. Overall, more than 31,790 people have tested positive for the respiratory disease COVID-19 since March, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment.
Positivity rates have increased slightly, although hospitalizations for COIVD-19 have plateaued. On Friday, there were 129 people in the hospital with the disease across the state.
The health department also confirmed another seven people have died, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 to 1,482.
Counties report spikes in cases
The new cases among young Coloradans comes as local public health officials reported spikes in cases.
In Boulder County, more than 100 people tested positive for the disease following a mixture of college parties, protests and travel. In Eagle County, public officials also confirmed cases among teenagers and young adults following social gatherings.
San Miguel County officials reported a rise in cases in recent weeks, with 11 active cases as of Friday. While not all of the cases are related, teenagers are among some of those to test positive for COVID-19.
After one 17-year-old from Telluride tested positive, public health officials released a letter to parents asking families to take precautions — such as curbing their contact with others — if their child also had been at a social gathering the teen previously attended.
“We realize that teenagers are social beings and this pandemic is cramping their style,” the public health department wrote. “But we know we must collectively change our behaviors, to change the trajectory of this pandemic.”
A virtual Juneteenth celebration was held at Get Busy Livin Studios on Thursday, June 18, 2020. The event was hosted by local media personality Oren Lomena and featured live music, interviews with leaders of the black community and a variety of cutaways to live events happening in the city.
Evraz Place in Regina will host three drive-in concerts in one day, while Saskatoon's SaskTel Centre is already embracing drive-in movies.
The decision to use an English-only version of "O Canada" drew the ire of some on social media.
Sports bars are still following the guidelines from health officials to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
What a game we got in the opener as the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins went to overtime before the Habs won 3-2.
LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) The college football world today is mourning the sudden passing of UL Lafayette football assistant coach D.J. Looney.
Looney, who was heading into his third year as an assistant offensive line coach with the Ragin’ Cajuns, died after suffering a heart attack during a team workout. He was only 31 years old.
Cajuns head coach Billy Napier released a statement Saturday evening regarding Looney’s passing.
The Ragin Cajuns Department of Athletics ask that fans, friends and acquaintances of Coach Looney keep his family and the football program in their thoughts and prayers.
BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron offered his heartfelt condolences on the passing of UL Lafayette assistant football coach D.J. Looney, who died Saturday following a heart attack during a team workout at Cajun Field.
“Our prayers are with Coach Looney’s family and the Ragin Cajun Football team. He will be missed. God bless.”
Our prayers are with Coach Looney’s family and the Ragin Cajun Football team. He will be missed. God bless
— Coach Ed Orgeron (@Coach_EdOrgeron) August 1, 2020
Looney was confirmed dead at University Hospital & Clinics, which is located across the street from Cajun Field.
He was 31 years old.
The Single Guy Blog
Well it has been a while since I posted. I guess after finding out my dream girl was having a baby by another guy I just wasn’t in the mood to post. But I’m back folks! So I have a new dream girl. It is a bit of a long story so sit back,pour a cup of coffee and relax. So I have been stalking the Facebook page of the bar I use to work at-ya know how a single guys does when he has no life. I saw some pictures of a beautiful girl that bartends there. Blond hair,beautiful smile…just perfect. Of course I figured I would never have a chance with her-specially since she is about 20 years younger. But a guy can dream right? So a couple days ago I was looking around seekingarrangements to see if anyone new had signed up and who do I see? Yep that girl! We will call her…Tanya…So I figured hey send her a message who knows what might happen. She sent me a message back and we sent a few more messages back and forth. I gave her my number and SURPRISE she sends me a text! So we have been talking for a couple days now. She even says she likes older guys and not the young military guys that come into the bar where she works. We are planning on meeting this week. So we will see what happens…I have my fingers crossed and won’t be surprised if she disappears before we actually meet….but I might just actually have found my future wife-or she may just “ghost” on me like so many flakey girls do. Stay tuned..maybe the Single Guy won’t be single much longer!
PELL CITY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Pell City Police Department is asking the public for help in locating those responsible for shooting a puppy Sunday night.
According to PCPD, the puppy, named King, was shot in both rear legs at 8 p.m. in the 100 block of Shady Dale. Authorities say the incident was done for “no apparent reason except to inflict pain and bodily injury.”
PCPD says they have found the owner and that the veterinarian bills will be large and are asking for donations to be made at the Pell City Animal Shelter for King.
Anyone with information on the incident are asked to contact PCPD at 205-884-3334.
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