Fire engulfs Boyer’s Coffee in Adams County

A fire destroyed Boyer’s Coffee roasting plant and cafe in Adams County Tuesday afternoon.

The fire sent a plume of black smoke into the sky and responding firefighters with Adams County Fire Rescue took defensive measures fighting the blaze, at 7295 Washington Street, because of the fire’s intensity, Adams County Fire said on Twitter.

There was no one in the building, and no firefighters were injured.

Boyer’s Coffee, owned by brothers Douglass and Jason Barrow, has been a Denver staple since 1965, with a footprint in over 1,400 stores. The company also sells its Rockies Roast at Coors Field.

Jordan Blakesley,  a company spokeswoman, told The Denver Post, “We’re still assessing the damages, but are happy to report that no employees were injured in the fire. As a local, family-owned roaster, that’s our number one priority at this moment. We’ll share more as additional information becomes available.”

Fire Investigators remained on scene Tuesday afternoon. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Washington Street is closed from East 70th Avenue to East 79th Avenue, and traffic is being diverted to Broadway or York Street.

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Hobby Lobby remains open in defiance of Colorado’s stay-at-home order

Hobby Lobby locations across the Denver area were open to shoppers Monday despite the statewide stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Jared Polis last week mandating all non-critical businesses shutter until April 11.

The chain’s decision to stay open in the face of coronavirus social-distancing orders hasn’t gone unnoticed on social media.

Employees from locations nationwide have been outspoken on Twitter, claiming the company exploits loopholes in orders similar to Colorado’s to stay open. People have shared photos of signs posted at Hobby Lobby stores that say they’re essential businesses because they sell materials for making personal protective equipment and homeschooling supplies.

In Colorado, though, the answer is clear: Hobby Lobby and other crafty outfitters like it are not essential under Polis’ public health order.

“They are not exempt,” Conor Cahill, the governor’s press secretary, confirmed Monday when asked about Hobby Lobby.

Managers at Hobby Lobby locations in Wheat Ridge, Lakewood and Englewood declined comment when The Denver Post asked why they were open. Attempts to reach the chain’s corporate representatives were unsuccessful. And Hobby Lobby’s customer service line was “not accepting phone calls at this time,” according to a recorded message.

Uncertainty around what constitutes a critical versus non-critical establishment under the governor’s order has prompted a wave of complaints from locals. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office has received about 700 reports about businesses violating the stay-at-home order since Friday, he said.

Weiser would not disclose whether his office had taken reports about Hobby Lobby or if he plans to pursue action against the company, stating, “I’m not going to get into individual cases.”

In Denver, the city and county enforcement team contacted 2,577 businesses and citizens about non-compliance as of Sunday, issuing 543 warnings and giving out four citations, according to the joint information center.

“People are aware that we are here as a backstop and people feel an obligation to help us do the work of enforcing the public health order,” Weiser said. “That’s how we are going to get through this.”

The governor released a lengthy list of health, retail, manufacturing, finance and infrastructure operations deemed critical and allowed to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what to do if you suspect a business is violating the state’s order to close.

First, contact your local law enforcement and public health agency.

County-level leaders are the first line of defense when it comes to enforcing coronavirus-related regulations, Weiser said. Most will try to work with the business to understand any discrepancies in compliance with the state’s executive order before escalating to civil or criminal penalties.

Violation of a public health order is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $1,000 or one year in jail. Criminal penalties, however, are reserved for the most extreme cases that show “a flat disregard for the law,” Weiser said.

If you don’t hear from local authorities, send a note directly to the attorney general.

Local officials have had to react quickly to the rapidly changing situation around the coronavirus, and many enforcement teams are just getting off the ground. While they encourage residents to report suspected violators, they may not be able to address every complaint.

Weiser’s office, too, is currently analyzing all of the reports it received. People who don’t hear from their local officials in a timely manner are encouraged to email reports to [email protected]

 

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Colorado governor against corporate bailouts “because I’m not a socialist like Donald Trump”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis took a dig at the president in an MSNBC interview this week, saying he doesn’t support corporate bailouts because “I’m not a socialist like Donald Trump.”

The Republican president had said he would support the federal government taking an equity stake in companies that receive federal government aid due to economic impacts from the novel coronavirus, national media reported. MSNBC show host Chuck Todd asked Polis, a Democrat, his thoughts on that.

“I think the government should not … own the means to production,” Polis said. “I’m not a socialist like Donald Trump, so I think that’s a very dangerous way to go, and I think that rather than these corporate bailouts, we should talk about helping people.”

Polis said he supports proposals such as sending everyone $2,000, temporarily increasing food stamp benefits and giving emergency loans to small businesses.

“I think those are the kinds of measures rather than trying to use this as an excuse to implement socialist measures across corporate America,” he said.

 

 

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No sugar-coating: Trump changes tack on coronavirus

There was no sugar-coating it this time. No optimistic talk of miracle cures or Easter-time business re-openings.

There was just the cold, hard reality of the facts on the ground.

“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” a grave-faced Donald Trump said in his Tuesday afternoon press conference.

“This is going to be a very, very painful two weeks.”

How painful? When the president was asked how many Americans are currently projected to die from the virus given even the current mitigation efforts, he said it was better if his medical experts responded.

The number of deaths, based on current projections, is between 100,000 and 200,000. On 15 April, for instance, 2,214 Americans are expected to die.

“No-one is denying that we’re going through a very, very difficult time,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “That’s what it is.”

The president tried to frame this news as best he could, noting that the projections for US casualties if the government had done nothing were in the millions.

“A lot of people were saying think of it as the flu, but it’s not the flu,” he said. “It’s vicious.”

Of course, it was just a week ago the president himself was making exactly such comparisons, noting that the early fatality numbers were much less than those from the flu or even automobile accidents.

“We lose thousands of people a year to the flu,” he said then. “We never turn the country off.”

Now, however, the seriousness of the situation has hit home.

He spoke of checking in on a friend who was in the hospital with the virus – “a little older, and he’s heavy, but he’s tough person” – only to find out he was now in a coma.

“I spoke to some of my friends, and they can’t believe what they’re seeing,” he said.

Mr Trump’s change of attitude also extended to some of his recent political feuds.

Just days after attacking Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, mocking her name and calling her incompetent on Twitter, the president said he had a “really great conversation” with her and detailed the support the federal government was providing her state.

Last Friday, he had suggested that if state leaders were not “appreciative” of him, he wouldn’t talk to them.

On Tuesday, he recounted conversations with Democratic governors in California and Louisiana.

The new call from the White House was to continue the current mitigation efforts for an additional 30 days; that even if things go from bad to worse in the weeks to come, the efforts will pay off.

It will, however, be a long, slow grind.

“There’s no magic bullet,” said Dr Deborah Birx, one of the experts on the US taskforce,.

“There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. Just behaviours,” she said.

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Sweden offers lifeline to grounded airline workers with vital COVID 19 hospital role

The crew from crisis hit airline SAS are taking a three day course in general hospital practice. Out-of-work crew are hoping to help the Swedish healthcare system meet the demand of thousands of coronavirus cases.

SAS is partially owned by the Swedish and Danish governments.

The airline has temporarily laid off 10,000 to cut costs from the loss of air travel amid the pandemic.

That equals 90 percent of the airlines workforce, who are now seeking other employment for the time being.

Flights around the world have been mostly grounded due to border closures attempting to curb the virus’ spread.

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Stockholm’s healthcare system is in desperate need of reinforcements for medical staff.

Sophiahemmet University Hospital has reached out to former cabin crew, offering to teach them general hospital working skills.

These involve sterilising equipment, making hospital beds and providing medical information to patients and relatives.

The intensive course teaches furloughed workers all the skills needed in three days.

The first students are due to complete the course on Thursday.

Johanna Adami, principal at the University, has said the response has been overwhelming.

She said: “We now have a long, long list of healthcare providers that are just waiting for them.

“They have basic healthcare education from their work.

“They are also very experienced to be flexible and think about security and also to handle complicated situations.”

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According to the principal, hospitals and nursing homes are desperate to employ the newly trained staff.

Currently the hospital are predicted to create 300 new healthcare workers.

Adami said that airline staff are well suited to the retraining, and have basic experience from their previous work.

Airlines in Australia and the US have enquired about the hospitals training methods.

Sweden has 4,435 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday evening.

Of that number, 180 have died after contracting the virus.

The Swedish government has come under fire for not introducing lockdown measures.

Prime Minster Stefan Löfven addressed the nation on the 22nd of March, saying: “We who are adults need to be exactly that: adults. Not spread panic or rumours.”

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Coronavirus: Manitoba courts prepared for backlog, experimenting with new technology

Manitoba’s court system has made several changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including adjourning several cases and limiting access to the courthouse, but the Chief Justice and Chief Judge say they are doing their best to overcome the obstacles.

Many less urgent cases have been adjourned and jury trials have been cancelled until the end of June.

Chief Justice Glenn D. Joyal said the Court of Queen’s Bench is prioritizing cases in areas including family law, child protection, criminal law and civil litigation.

“In the area of child protection, we obviously want to ensure to the extent that we can we prioritize those motions and applications that need to be prioritized.”

Chief Justice Joyal said he’s also bracing for possible new disputes that may arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and have to be dealt with in a timely manner.

“You may have in some situations a government in good faith passing an important piece of legislation, but that legislation is nonetheless challenged because of the implications for what somebody, a litigate, might think are potential compromises to his or her or other civil liberties,” Chief Justice Joyal said.

The Provincial Court is operating similar to the Court of Queen’s Bench, where non-urgent matters have been adjourned.

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Chief Judge Margaret Wiebe said the urgent cases that are being heard, which include in custody cases and protection orders, are utilizing technology to practice physical distancing.

“We have gone to great lengths to focus on having hearings by video and by telephone appearances,” she said.

“Many counsel are not coming to the courthouse. We are having clerks text them before their matter comes up so that they do know their matter is appearing; they can call into telephone lines which have been put into each of the courtrooms.

“We are focusing on video, we are not transporting people unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Given the number of matters that have been adjourned, Chief Judge Wiebe estimates it could take up to a year and a half for the Provincial Court to catch up once the pandemic is over.

“I think it’s going to be difficult for us to catch up with the volume, particularly that we have in this court, any sooner than 18 months or so,” she said.

“That is a guess; maybe we can do it faster.”

Chief Justice Joyal is aiming to catch up in the summer months, if the spread of COVID-19 levels off in Manitoba by then.

Cases can also be thrown out if a judge finds the defendant’s constitutional right to a timely trial had been violated under the Jordan decision.

“I can’t telegraph or anticipate what court rulings will be,” Chief Justice Joyal said. “The Jordan case also, I think, allows for contextualization of situations and circumstances and this is a circumstance like no other.”

Going forward, Chief Justice Joyal is hoping to gain valuable lessons from this experience which has forced unprecedented changes on the court system. He said the court system could carry on with some of the technology introduced during the pandemic, while balancing public access.

“We’re learning in different areas how we might not only improve the system in good times, but how we can maybe anticipate and guard against inconvenience in bad times.”

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Ontario elementary teachers get salary, benefits boosts in tentative contract deal

TORONTO – Ontario’s elementary teachers have agreed to salary increases of one per cent a year for three years, but will get higher benefit increases than the government originally sought.

The Canadian Press has obtained a memo of highlights that the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario sent to its members about the tentative contract deal it recently reached with the provincial government.

The government had previously said it would not budge beyond an offer to increase both wages and benefits by one per cent per year, but ETFO secured four per cent annual increases to benefits.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce had also wanted concessions on a regulation that dictates seniority-based hiring, but while the agreement doesn’t come with any such concessions, it also doesn’t come with guarantees that the government can’t make changes to it.

The agreement also contains a Support for Students fund, which ETFO says will create about 434 teacher positions, meant to address areas such as special education, English language learners, and mental-health initiatives.

The government has also made a “binding, enforceable” commitment in writing to maintain the current full-day kindergarten structure, with one teacher and one early childhood educator.

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LA gun stores reopen, deemed ‘essential’ business

Los Angeles County is reopening gun shops to the public after a federal memo listed them as “essential” businesses.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva closed shops last week, but reversed course on Monday, following the guidance.

The LA county closures had prompted a lawsuit from gun rights groups.

The change comes amid a national dispute over whether gun access is critical amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The federal guidance issued on 28 March classified munitions makers and sellers as “essential critical infrastructure workers”.

Mr Villanueva said that though the memo was non-binding, it has national scope and he would therefore open shops closed last week.

Please see my statement regarding clarification on essential businesses during the #Covid19 Crisis: #LASD #FlattenTheCurve #SheriffV pic.twitter.com/tJSMyQrGDo

End of Twitter post by @LACoSheriff

Previously, Mr Villanueva had told gun shops to close in the nation’s most populous county, as long queues due to panic-buying posed health risks.

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom, who issued a state-wide stay at home order to combat the spread of Covid-19 earlier this month, has said each of the state’s counties may determine whether firearm stores, like groceries and pharmacies, were essential businesses permitted to remain open.

The state has seen over 130 deaths due to the novel coronavirus. The US currently has over 164,000 confirmed cases.

An order was issued closing gun stop to the public, but dealers could continue to do business with police, security companies and some residents who had not yet collected their previously purchased firearms.

The National Rifle Association – one of the most powerful gun lobby groups in the US – and other pro-gun groups filed a federal lawsuit against California officials on Friday over store closures. The mandatory closures violated the US Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms, the suit said.

Gun control groups have argued keeping these shops open is not safe in a pandemic.

Across the nation, Covid-19 has caused a rise in firearm sales, including from many first-time buyers, local media report. States have taken different approaches to gun access amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The Texas attorney general has deemed gun shops essential businesses protected by the Second Amendment, but New Jersey has restricted business to appointment-only sales during limited hours.

Pennsylvania residents may also continue to buy firearms as long as they abide by social distancing guidelines.

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JPMorgan, addressing racism allegations, reforms customer complaint system, access

NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) told employees on Tuesday it is changing its customer complaint system and how staff choose which customers are eligible for certain banking products after the New York Times reported allegations of racial discrimination against black customers at the bank last year.

The reports prompted the bank to “look at how we do business so that we could gain a deeper understanding of what more we can do to root out racism and discrimination,” co-Chief Executives Gordon Smith and Daniel Pinto wrote in a memo sent to the bank’s staff seen by Reuters and verified by a bank spokesman.

In December, the New York Times reported instances of racial discrimination at the bank’s branches in the Phoenix, Arizona, area, citing audio recordings made by a bank employee and a customer as evidence.

“We are looking across the whole firm and at everything we do. We’ve identified a number of areas that, with enhanced, scaled or new programming or processes, would serve to improve our culture in important ways,” Smith and Pinto wrote.

The bank will simplify the process through which employees file customer complaints and flag serious concerns to senior management.

It is also re-evaluating the qualification requirements for new products and benefits and will strengthen tools bank managers use to monitor employees who have discretion over which customers get access to certain products and benefits.

The bank also committed to recruiting more diverse staff and said it will expand assessment programs for managers that evaluate how successfully they recruit for and hire diverse employees in management.

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