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Colorado Edition: Boulder County public health; Louisville hospital closure; worker strikes in the West; Republican River water management

Courtesy Centura Health
The Marshall Fire ― pictured from Avista Adventist Hospital's rooftop in Louisville — killed at least one person and destroyed more than 1,000 homes in Boulder County.

COVID-19 cases are spiking again across the state, driven predominantly by the omicron variant. The statewide rate of Coloradans testing positive is at an all-time high of nearly 30%, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In Boulder County, where cases are at their highest level since any point in the pandemic, residents are also contending with the aftermath of the Marshall Fire. Camille Rodriguez, executive director of Boulder County Public Health, joins us for an update.

As Louisville recovers from the disastrous Marshall Fire that burned more than 6,000 acres, they've had to do so without the Avista Adventist Hospital, which was closed due to smoke damage. With the hospital slated to reopen next week, we speak with science and health reporter Kate Ruder, who covered the closure and its impact for Kaiser Health News.

Grocery store workers in the Denver area are on strike after their union rejected the latest contract offer from a chain of stores owned by Kroger Co., the nation’s largest traditional grocery store chain. Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 allege unfair labor practices by King Soopers, which has accused the union of the same thing. As KUNC’s Robyn Vincent reports, the strike is the latest labor dispute in the Mountain West, and the wave of unrest may continue.

And in part one of our series on the Republican River, we showed how dropping river flows and groundwater levels in the Northeast Colorado basin are impacting farmers and ranchers. From a flood in the 1930s to extended drought today, the river is managed by an interstate compact requiring a certain amount of water to flow from Colorado to Kansas and Nebraska. To meet it, 2,500 irrigated acres of Colorado farmland must soon be shut down. KUNC’s Adam Rayes gives us the history that got the basin to this point.

Colorado Edition is hosted by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1) and edited by Henry Zimmerman (@kombuchacowboy). Our production team includes Tess Novotny (@tess_novotny). KUNC news director Brian Larson is our executive producer. Web was edited by digital editor Jackie Hai.

The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. It's available as a podcast on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

You can hear the show on KUNC, Monday through Friday at 2:30 and at 6:30 p.m.
Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you!

Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a daily look at the stories, news, people and issues important to you. It's a window to the communities along the Colorado Rocky Mountains.