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Pros and cons of buying an electric vehicle in 2020 vs. 2021

Tesla’s electric vehicles (such as this Model 3) have long set the pace in the EV market, and they enjoy their own network of charging stations.
Credit: Benjamin Westby

With electric vehicles gaining market share and popularity, Colorado consumers are increasingly faced with tradeoffs. One such tradeoff presents itself this month as a key state tax credit is set to decrease significantly after Dec. 31.

The dilemma boils down to this: Buy an electric vehicle (EV) before the end of the year to save an extra $1,500? Or hold off until 2021, when a host of new models – including some electric trucks and SUVs – are expected to hit the market?

That’s because Colorado’s “Innovative Motor Vehicle” income tax credit, currently pegged at $4,000 on the purchase of a new plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicle, will drop to $2,500 in 2021. Likewise, the credit for leasing an EV will decrease to $1,500 from the current $2,000.

There’s some consternation among EV advocates about the imminent reduction of the state’s tax incentive, but Stefan Johnson, transportation program manager at Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), sees both sides. 

“It’s not ideal having the tax credit step down just as we’re starting to see more models come onto the market in Colorado,” he says. “If I could wave a magic wand, I’d give folks another year to take advantage of the $4,000. But on the other hand, we all need a deadline to get us to act.”

The importance of tax credits

In addition to the state tax credit, new EV buyers can also claim a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. However, Johnson notes, results may vary: Tesla and GM vehicles are no longer eligible for the federal tax credit, and in the case of other vehicles the size of the credit will depend on the individual’s tax liability. The state tax credit applies to all models, and everyone gets the full $4,000 regardless of their tax situation.

“I definitely think the tax credits go a long way to moving the EVs,” says Tim Jackson, president and CEO of the Colorado Auto Dealers Association. 

Electric vehicles are expected to reach “price parity” with gas cars in the next five years or so, but for now, Jackson says, they need subsidies to make up the difference. He points to what happened when the state of Georgia suddenly ended its $5,000 EV tax credit in 2016 – EV sales plummeted by 80%.

Other incentives to buy EVs

But tax credits aren’t the only incentive to buy an EV. Some manufacturers are offering pretty hefty discounts on certain models, and local dealerships are offering extra deals of their own to make room for next year’s models. 

Added up, the breaks can make a big difference, says Michael Payne Sr., owner of Mountain Chevy in Glenwood Springs. For example, he explains that the Colorado tax credit plus GM’s manufacturer discount takes $15,000 off the price of a Chevy Bolt, putting it in the same range as a comparable gas car.

Barriers to putting more electric cars on the road

The state of Colorado has set an ambitious goal of getting 940,000 electric cars on the road by 2030 – a seemingly impossible task given that the current number is fewer than 30,000. Christian Williss, Senior Director for Transportation Fuel and Technology at the Colorado Energy Office, sees four barriers to achieving it:

  1. High upfront costs
  2. Lack of public awareness about EVs
  3. Lagging charging infrastructure
  4. Limited model availability

The state tax credit was designed to tackle barrier number one, but Williss says that policy can only do so much given barriers number two, three and four.

According to Williss, surveys have found that the majority of Coloradans have little knowledge of electric vehicles – and fewer still know about the state tax credit. He says the state plans to launch a multi-year education campaign next year to increase awareness about EVs.

As for charging infrastructure – that is, charging stations – state grant programs have been fueling a steady expansion of the network in the past couple of years, thanks in part to funding from a national legal settlement over Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. (CLEER manages one of those grant programs in 14 counties across northwestern Colorado.) Xcel Energy has plans to add to the spree with a big spend of its own starting in 2021.

And the final barrier – limited model availability – is in the process of falling, thanks to Colorado’s 2019 adoption of California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate. With that move, Colorado has in effect joined a common EV market with California and nine other states, with the result that the range of EV models sold in Colorado is expected to grow rapidly in 2021 and beyond.

The dilemma faced by prospective EV buyers right now

If a subcompact EV like a Chevy Bolt or Nissan Leaf fits your lifestyle, there’s every reason to buy now and score a great deal, says Williss. Just know that your choices will be limited to cars that are already on the lot, because any car that you order at this point probably won’t be delivered by Dec. 31. 

Meanwhile, Western Slope drivers who have been holding out for something beefier should set their sights on 2021, when a number of all-electric SUVs, crossovers and trucks are expected to make their debut.

CLEER’s Johnson thinks the new crop of EVs are positioned to make bigger inroads in the Colorado market. 

“Many Coloradans are environmentally conscious and want to do the right thing, but AWD and high clearance aren’t just optional features for them,” he says. “Having new models that are compatible with the outdoor Colorado lifestyle will be a game-changer for EV sales in the state.”

At the compact/crossover end of the SUV class, Ford is supposed to start delivering its much-anticipated Mustang Mach-E any day now. The new all-electric Mustang can drive 230 miles between charges and has a base price of about $44,000, before factoring in any state or federal-tax credits. 

Another crossover that’s eagerly anticipated is VW’s ID.4. Basically an electric updating of the Tiguan – and a likely competitor to the Tesla Model Y – the ID.4 has a 250-mile range and starts at $41,000. The rear-wheel-drive version will come out first in mid-2021, followed by an AWD later in the year.

Other crossover EVs worth looking out for in the coming year include Hyundai’s Kona Electric, Nissan’s Ariya and Cadillac’s high-end Lyriq. As for Colorado favorite Subaru, its plug-in hybrid Crosstrek should start selling in our state in 2021, but an all-electric Subaru remains unavailable anywhere.

Electric pickup trucks

Perhaps the most buzz-worthy development of 2021 promises to be the introduction of EV pickup trucks, such as the Rivian R1T.
Credit: Jeff Johnson

Perhaps the most buzz-worthy development of 2021 promises to be the introduction of EV pickup trucks from Rivian, Ford and Tesla. The Rivian R1T is expected by the middle of the year, sporting a 300-plus-mile range and a max payload of 1,750 pounds – and a $67,500 price tag. Tesla says its Cybertruck will carry a 3,500-pound payload and come with features like cold-rolled steel and armor glass, all for an incredible base price of just under $40,000. 

Less is known at this stage about Ford’s electric F-150, but given the brand’s icon status it promises to become a major player. To round out the electric truck field, look for additional entrants from startups Lordstown and Bollinger.

Are electric vehicles becoming mainstream?

“I have a very, very positive outlook for 2021,” says Jon Fruend, general manager of Audi Volkswagen Glenwood Springs. He sees EVs finally becoming mainstream, as Volkswagen and Audi, like many other manufacturers, will finally be offering electric models in every major class.

“I think what all the conventional manufacturers have to do is find a sweet spot of range versus price. I think they’ve got the models right. It’s finding that sweet spot. Is it 250 miles per charge? We’ll see.”

Regional COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan expected this week

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO at Renew Senior Communities.
Latest news about local vaccine distribution

What: Renew Talks Health, a live webinar about the prioritization of vaccine recipient groups, new data on side effects, and challenging ethics issues facing public officials.

When: Friday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m.

Who: Renew Senior Communities Medical Director Dr. Konrad Nau and CEO Lee Tuchfarber. 

Cost: Free. Register at renewsenior.com.

Thursday’s Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine marks a hopeful time in the fight against a global pandemic that has upended lives and livelihoods around the world. 

On Friday, Renew Senior Communities is hosting a special webinar featuring its medical director, Dr. Konrad Nau, who has been involved at the regional and state levels on coordinating the logistics of the vaccine’s rollout. Dr. Nau will address the latest information announced by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in this timely web talk, hosted by Renew Senior Communities CEO Lee Tuchfarber. 

“By Friday, we’re going to know a lot more about how many doses of the vaccine Colorado is getting, and how many doses our region is getting. We’ll also have more clarity about how many doses will be made available for the long-term care populations and the estimated date of arrival for those,” Dr. Nau said. “If the CDC grants emergency use on Thursday, those vaccines will be shipped out over the weekend.”

High-priority vaccine recipients

Renew Senior Communities Medical Director Dr. Konrad Nau, who has been involved at the regional and state levels on coordinating the logistics of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently included long-term care facility residents — who have been one of the hardest hit populations by COVID-19 mortality nationwide — in the highest priority group for vaccine distribution. 

“The way the plan is laid out now, distribution trickles down as each priority tier category gets their allotment filled. Phase one is high-priority people, healthcare workers and long-term care residents; phase two gets into essential workers who are not healthcare workers, prisons and dormitories, adults 65 and older and those with high-risk conditions; and phase three is the general public,” Dr. Nau said. “It’s expected that the vaccine will be precious and in short supply in December and January, then things will open up more as more vaccines are manufactured.”

Of course, long-term care facilities such as Renew Senior Communities can’t require residents to take a vaccine. The next step is to ask staff and residents whether they will take a vaccine once it’s available, Dr. Nau said. 

“I think that’s going to be part of our facilities, as well as public health, education so people understand the real risks and benefits of the vaccine,” he said. 

Plans for distribution

Renew Senior Communities submitted its application more than a month ago to ensure its added to the list of facilities seeking vaccines. That was a critical step in ensuring the quickest receipt of vaccines, Tuchfarber said. 

“It’s wonderful to have the guidance of Dr. Nau, who is on the front lines of the information flow and the implementation of this rollout,” he said. “The most exciting aspect about this is that we’re moving closer toward a solution. I am just pinching myself that the vaccine is actually on its way. It’s a far more aggressive timeline than I anticipated even just a couple of months ago.”

For long-term care facilities, the distribution is going to come from Walgreen’s and CVS, both of which have the direct contracts with the CDC to be the administrating sources. The proportion of total vaccines distributed to each state is based on the population of each state as a percentage of total U.S. population. Colorado is about 1.8 percent of the U.S. population. 

What’s not yet clear is the proportion of vaccines that will be distributed to pharmacies vs. health departments, Dr. Nau said. 

Once the vaccine arrives in Colorado, it will go out to roughly 10 predetermined distribution sites, followed by distribution under the direction of the state health department. Also worth noting is the total number of vaccines received in the state will be cut in half, since every vaccine recipient needs a booster shot about three weeks after receiving the first vaccine dose. 

“I’m very excited about the prospects of a vaccine,” said Dr. Nau. “What I hope is that we get a huge percentage of the population that accepts the vaccine and I hope people understand we need to continue with the masking and distancing for a while yet. When you’re immunizing a few million people here and there, all the usual public health protocols need to remain in place.”

Give where you live: Nonprofits strengthen our community

Aspen Youth Center, one of the 48 MountainWest Gives nonprofits this year.
About Mountain West Gives

A group of nonprofit directors from the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys got together about 6 years ago to work on a regional campaign after seeing a need to direct Colorado Gives Day donations to local organizations. From Aspen to Parachute, there are 48 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives this year. Contributing to these groups will help your money stay right here in the community, providing much-needed services for the people who live and work here in our valley.

To give to one of these organizations on Colorado Gives Day, visit www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives. You can also set up donations in advance of Colorado Gives Day, or even set up recurring donations.

With 48 local nonprofits participating in Colorado Gives Day, there are at least 48 ways you could make a significant community impact this holiday season.

In the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys, a regional effort called Mountain West Gives is working to drive Colorado Gives Day donations to local nonprofits. Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide charitable giving drive, is Dec. 8.

“$100 here will do so much more than at the national or state level,” said Julie Olson, executive director of the Advocate Safehouse Project, and one of the coordinators for Mountain West Gives. “It gives soul to our community when we work together and collaborate.”

Olson said that it’s sometimes easy to forget about the work local nonprofits do, but when you look at the services they provide to everyone, it’s easy to see how the impacts are so vast. From environmental causes that affect all of us to English language learning services that contribute to a literate community, nonprofits help us more than we often realize. 

“Nonprofits enrich our community,” Olson said. “They are a safety net in our community which has totally come into place with the pandemic this year — and most likely will be true as we move forward into 2021. I can’t imagine how our region would have fared without our amazing nonprofits picking up the slack.”

Helping our neighbors

Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program’s participants promoting AZYEP at a past Mountain Fair. The program is one of the 48 MountainWest Gives nonprofits this year.

Nonprofits play a critical role in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys, providing important services to meet local needs that wouldn’t otherwise be met. Blythe Chapman, executive director of River Bridge Regional Center, said giving to these groups ensures funds stay in the community to help our neighbors.

“Nonprofit organizations are a bridge between the private and public sectors that help solve more problems to improve the world in which we live,” Chapman said. “In the past, a lot of people in our community were giving to these bigger statewide or nation-wide organizations and the money wasn’t staying here locally. … We’ve got to start with our community here if we’re going to expect any significant support and change for our entire larger community like the state or the nation.”

Making it easy to donate online

Give locally

All of the 48 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives have been fully vetted via a rigorous application process. If you’re thinking about making a donation on Colorado Gives Day, Dec. 8, it can be hard to sift through all of the organizations to find the right cause for your dollars.

At www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives, you can read descriptions about each nonprofit and make your online donation quickly and easily. All of the money donated will go directly to these organizations with incentive funds available thanks to a FirstBank contribution toward Colorado Gives Day.

Olson said the Mountain West Gives website makes it so easy to donate, which is especially helpful for the smaller organizations that wouldn’t typically be equipped to accept online donations.

If you go to the Colorado Gives Day website and search by county, that brings up a false list of organizations because it includes nonprofits that aren’t truly local. For example, national and statewide organizations that might conduct business in the county will appear on the list, but Olson said those funds aren’t necessarily guaranteed to remain in the community.

“They’re not here — they’re not the heart and soul of Garfield, Pitkin and Western Eagle Counties,” Olson said.

On the Mountain West Gives landing page, you can type in the services for which you’re interested in, such as animal-related services or health and human services. It’ll then display the local organizations participating in Mountain West Gives, including descriptions about the causes they support. This helps donors focus their dollars since it can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to give.

“Around here, neighbors are really important. Living in rural Colorado, people recognize that we’re supported by each other,” Chapman said. “Local giving is so important — give where you live.”

Donation goal: $300,000

Last year, Mountain West Gives members received $292,500 from over 1,550 donations.  This year for 2020, the goal is to raise $300,000 via 1,600 donations. Help Mountain West Gives reach its goal by making a donation at www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives.

Seniors living with dementia face devastating COVID-19 risks

Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist specializing in dementia care, with 40 years of clinical and academic experience.
Tips for caring for loved ones with dementia

What: Renew Talks Health, web series hosted by Renew Senior Communities.

Who: Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist specializing in dementia care, with 40 years of clinical and academic experience; Lee Tuchfarber, CEO, Renew Senior Communities. 

Subject: This webinar will provide attendees practical tips for caregiving during the pandemic such as connection strategies for video chat or phone calls, communication techniques while using personal protective equipment, and ideas for engagement that can be modified for infection control or used in the home setting.

When: Nov. 11, 2 p.m.

Where: Online. Register at renewsenior.com

Cost: Free

Seniors living with dementia are dying at higher rates this year compared to last, and while many of these deaths aren’t due to COVID-19 itself, they can be attributed to the pandemic’s far-reaching effects on this vulnerable population.

To combat the effects of coronavirus isolation, social environments such as Renew Roaring Fork Memory Care can help those living with dementia interact with other residents and experienced staff who deliver daily resident engagement experiences.

If those challenged with dementia aren’t using their remaining synapses — the junctions in the brain where neurons communicate with one another — they’ll lose these functions more rapidly. When you’re moving less, talking less, engaging less in activities that bring value or purpose, it leads to increased depression and a loss of these critical skills due to social isolation. 

“We have people dying at higher rates from dementia that’s due to this isolation,” said Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist specializing in dementia care, with 40 years of clinical and academic experience. “We’re working to save them from getting COVID, but we haven’t come up with a long-term dementia care plan taking COVID into account.”

Snow is the guest host of an upcoming web talk series, presented by Renew Senior Communities, Aspen Compassion and The Aspen Times, that will provide practical tips for caregiving during the pandemic such as connection strategies for video or phone calls, communication techniques while using personal protective equipment, and ideas for engagement that can be modified for infection control or used in the home setting.

“Teepa Snow is one of the most powerful presenters in the field of dementia care.  Her teachings are of enormous value to family members caring for a loved one with dementia at home, as well as professional caregivers in the field,” said Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities. 

Consider the limitations of those with dementia

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO at Renew Senior Communities.

Those struggling with dementia experience a wide range of cognitive challenges including losses of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities. These changes in thinking skills affect daily life, behavior, feelings and relationships. 

When you’re trying to communicate with someone who is living with dementia, you have to take into account the abilities of the person with whom you’re trying to interact, Snow said. It’s also important to understand their ability to keep themselves safe. 

“This group is high-risk for not understanding the rules of social distancing, just like you wouldn’t expect a toddler to understand what it means to stay six feet away from the people they’re closest to,” she said. “When you’re emotionally invested in a loved one and see them not doing well, it’s hard to hold back from the need or desire to get close.”

Renew Memory Care has increased the number of activity directors in its communities to deliver more small group settings and one-on-one engagement during COVID-19. The focus is on the quality of each interaction, Tuchfarber said. 

Interaction techniques

Renew Memory Care has increased the number of activity directors in its communities to deliver more small group settings and one-on-one engagement during COVID-19.
Getty Images

Snow has been working on the ways that loved ones can remain close during the physical limitations of the pandemic. When a person living with dementia can’t understand why their loved ones aren’t visiting, you have to use other techniques, Snow said. 

“Go back to memories, tell stories that are friendly and familiar, show pictures in a video chat or a slideshow of photos, animals, plants, trees, people or a nature scene,” she said. “Or try using music. When you bring those elements into the interaction, it moves the interaction to a different place. Quit trying to use logic or reason, and just prepare for a challenging interaction.”

Snow works with her clients to try to help them figure out how to be with their loved ones. She wants loved ones to think about the goal of the interaction, which is often focused on providing the person living with dementia with something for which to look forward. 

Snow recommends doing active listening exercises with a reflection such as, “I’m so glad I get to spend some time with you today because you’re the best part of my day,” she said. This is especially important when the person living with dementia expresses frustration or disdain from the experiences of their own day.

“Try some simplified storytelling with visual cues, building a story with a mutual connection,” she said. “Move the conversation ahead while still helping them feel like they’re contributing to the conversation.”

Snow helps her clients accomplish this by asking this-or-that questions — would you like to eat a soup or sandwich? Something creamy or brothy? 

“Use visual cues on interactive platforms such as Zoom … physical presence is incredibly important in dementia care,” Snow said. 

Keeping the 5Point Film Festival vibe alive

“Pedal Through,” a film about three young black women taking on a week-long bike packing adventure full of joy, healing, and mentorship with mother nature in Oregon’s backcountry
“Pedal Through,” a film about three young black women taking on a week-long bike packing adventure full of joy, healing, and mentorship with mother nature in Oregon’s backcountry
Fresh 5Point programs, accessible to all

5Point Film Festival is online this year, from Oct. 14-18, in a live format that will feature new short films, woven together with emcees who will guide attendees through a live, interactive experience. Programs are roughly two hours long with an intermission.

With short films spanning pure adventure, thrills and adrenaline, to poignant and reflective character stories, 5Point delivers a lineup that takes the audience on a journey, or perhaps a much-needed escape during a difficult and challenging year. 

This year’s films include stories about a little-known style of kayaking called squirt boating, to a sentimental father-daughter story about surfing in Iceland, to a heartwarming story about America’s longest continuously running ski shop that chronicles the history of skiing in the U.S.

When you purchase a pass or ticket, you’ll get an unlocking code that becomes active right before the start of the program. You can enjoy the experience from a smart TV, computer, tablet or smartphone.  

“Whether you’re a fan or new to 5point, this is your opportunity to see what we’re all about,” Jones said. “We’re not going to disappoint.”

What: 5Point Film Festival

When: Oct. 14-18, live-streaming (on-demand programming will not be available)

Where: Online

Cost: All access pass for an individual is $55, or $75 for a household of two or more people. Individual program tickets range from $10 to $25. 

For more details or to purchase tickets, visit 5pointfilm.org/festival

A global pandemic might have changed the format in which 5Point delivers its 2020 adventure film festival, but it couldn’t stop organizers from keeping the 5Point vibe alive. 

The annual gathering that typically takes place in Carbondale brings together adventurers from around the world to share in the creativity, adrenaline, and excitement of 5Point films. This year, 5Point Film Festival is going virtual without undermining one of its core values—bringing people together. 

“5Point is really known for that — audiences watching together and feeling that energy in one room,” said Regna Jones, executive director of 5Point Film Festival. “That’s one of the reasons we’re so impactful, because of this collective experience.”

In Northern New Hampshire, Lahout's Country Store is America’s longest continuously running ski shop. “North Country” is a short story of the American dream and the family that put a community on skis.
In Northern New Hampshire, Lahout’s Country Store is America’s longest continuously running ski shop. “North Country” is a short story of the American dream and the family that put a community on skis.

A decision to stream live

The engaging, interactive spirit of 5Point led organizers to the only logical format for a virtual event: it had to be live. An on-demand format, which many other film festivals have tried this year, wouldn’t be able to capture the spirit of 5Point.

“Our secret sauce, in a way, is that communal experience,” said Charlie Turnbull, 5Point’s director of programming. “It’s been a really important thing we’ve tried to maintain as much as we can.”

5Point tested this live virtual format in April when it initially postponed its flagship event. Organizers realized they could replicate 5Point’s immersive experience in its own unique way. 

“We immediately created 5Point Unlocked pulling  films from our archives, while weaving into the program our hosts, filmmakers, and special guests showing life in  lockdown. We offered the programs to the community for free as a way of bringing people together around something uplifting. We wanted to be part of a positive experience people could have during such a difficult and uncertain time,” Jones said. 

5Point Film Festival’s programs will only be broadcast live on their designated night (see factbox for details). You’ll have to tune in at that time, meaning all festival “attendees” will be tuning in together.

An interactive audience experience goes online

Many of 5Point’s hosts have become crowd favorites over the years, which led to two more exciting elements in this year’s virtual programming.

“5Point’s hosts will guide you through the program each night showcasing interviews and special guest clips,” Turnbull said. “Then, filmmakers or athletes will pop up and do Q&As, live on Zoom, after the program, just as they would on stage.”

Take time out of your schedule to watch 5point, as if you were attending the festival in person — 5Point promises pure inspiration and entertainment. 

“I think we’ve created a really cool and interesting new experience for our audience, with the same kind of trimmings the 5Point audience expects,” Turnbull said.

Staying true to the 5Point mission

Photo by Chris Burkard “Unnur,” a film that tells a beautiful story of an Icelandic photographer and surfer's life with his daughter.
Photo by Chris Burkard “Unnur,” a film that tells a beautiful story of an Icelandic photographer and surfer’s life with his daughter.

Jones said that when the pandemic hit, she found comfort and grounding in 5Point’s solid purpose and mission. 

“As a nonprofit, we want to put our money where our mouth is. We stayed committed to our give-back programs such as the Dream Project scholarships and the 5Point Film Fund, supporting filmmakers and artists and staying true to our work in education and community outreach,” Jones said. 

During quarantine, 5Point partnered with VOICES, a local nonprofit whose mission is to amplify voices in the community through the arts. In this project, the organizations created a platform for people to tell stories through stop motion videos. 

That collaboration led to another partnership with VOICES, called the 5Point Voices Youth Film Project which is teaching autobiographical-style filmmaking to a cohort of students at Bridges High School.

“Film is the most democratizing medium of our time. When youth can use it to tell stories and have their voices heard, it can be a really powerful way of expressing oneself, and also bears witness to what’s happening in the world right now,” Jones said. “We leaned into doing something good for the community and really stepped into the situation in a leadership way in terms of how a nonprofit can be bold and innovative, especially during times of uncertainty. If we can’t fulfill our mission, then what are we?”

Unlocking the potential of wearable technology on caregiving for seniors

Innovations in wearable technology that measure and analyze biometrics is an exciting frontier for senior care.
Innovations in wearable technology that measure and analyze biometrics is an exciting frontier for senior care.
Free web talk on exciting technologies for senior care

What: A free web talk on how big tech is intersecting with care for older adults, presented by Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times.

Who: Valencell, a leading innovator of biometrics technology. Presenters include President and Co-Founder Steven LeBoeuf and Vice President of Marketing Ryan Kraudel. Renew CEO Lee Tuchfarber will host.

When: Aug. 12, 3 p.m. MDT.

Where: Register online at www.renewsenior.com.

Biometrics technology isn’t new, but continuous innovation is proving its capabilities for health and longevity, especially as it relates to caring for seniors. 

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO at Renew Senior Communities.
Lee Tuchfarber, CEO at Renew Senior Communities.

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities, is especially excited about the possibilities for seniors and their caregivers. Wearable sensors could alert caregivers of seniors’ increased risks for social isolation, falls or heart attacks, and this real-time data could actually help them live longer, healthier lives.

“At Renew, we’re about transforming senior care, and part of that is through supporting the development of technology that helps give seniors more independence, greater quality of life, and longer, healthier lives,” he said. “As a senior housing community, we’re very interested in technology development that helps us create great environments for seniors.”

Renew is presenting a web talk on Aug. 12, hosted by Tuchfarber and featuring speakers from the technology company Valencell, a leading innovator of biometrics technology. Valencell President and Co-Founder Steven LeBoeuf and Vice President of Marketing Ryan Kraudel will present.

Improved access to technology 

Biometrics measurements can analyze heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, sleep quality, cardiovascular health and more. Valencell develops new biometric technologies and licenses the technology that ends up going into devices developed by other companies. 

For example, the embedded sensors in the Starkey brand hearing aid Livio AI, with which Renew has worked, were invented by Valencell. 

This and other wearable sensor technology has caught up to the medical sensor technologies used in hospitals and in healthcare, Kraudel said. 

Ryan Kraudel, Vice President of Marketing at Valencell.
Ryan Kraudel, Vice President of Marketing at Valencell.

“You can now get the same level of accuracy of data outside of a medical facility,” he said. “It makes it easier to collect point-in-time data, but it also allows longitudinal collection (repeated observations) that provides insights that haven’t been seen before.”

Sensors can detect how often you’ve entered a specific room, such as a bathroom or a food pantry, providing insights into how often a senior is using the bathroom or eating. These are the types of uses that Tuchfarber is interested in from a caregiving standpoint. 

Broad uses

Since Valencell was founded in 2006, LeBoeuf said the uses of biometrics technology have expanded. The technology itself is broad and can measure so many different data points gathered from any area on the body where blood flow can be measured non-invasively. 

Let’s say you wanted to know how the body responded to a certain experience, you could analyze the heart rate and blood flow data during that time. In addition, you can get contextual information about what the person is doing from location sensors and inertial sensors.

“We have outputs people can use that you wouldn’t be able to get from other technologies out there,” LeBoeuf said. 

Different customers, different desires

Steven LeBoeuf, President and Co-Founder at Valencell.
Steven LeBoeuf, President and Co-Founder at Valencell.

In the application of wearables for seniors, the customers might not be the same person who wears the device. Customers could include professional caregivers or family members, who often have different goals. 

“Family members just want to know their loved one is alright, but that’s not exactly what the wearer cares about — they want to be more independent,” LeBoeuf said. 

When considering these technologies specifically for senior care, there are also considerations for issues such as tight wearables on aging skin and the sensitivity and battery life of the sensors.

LeBoeuf said there’s also potential to reduce insurance and healthcare costs thanks to wearables. After a cardiac event or procedure, patients are often required to return to the hospital or medical office for follow-up testing. With wearables and smartphones, these tests could be done from home. 

“You could pop in an ear bud to get health measurements and even be able to talk to the physician through that device,” he said. 

Wearable sensors have a seemingly endless amount of applications beyond just biometric modeling. As we think about this wearable technology, LeBoeuf said it’s important to never lose sight of what kind of future we want. 

“This is a means to an end, and the end needs to be improvement in public health,” he said. “Help people take more control in their health, get the feedback they need and take more charge of their health in a way that also drives down costs.”

Why an aging population should be seen as an economic boon

Aging Americans make valuable contributions to the U.S. economy, yet ageism remains a major obstacle for them in the workplace.
Aging Americans make valuable contributions to the U.S. economy, yet ageism remains a major obstacle for them in the workplace.
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Free web talk on how aging Americans impact the economy

What: Web talk series about why the aging population will help the economy, presented presented by Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times.

Who: Co-hosted by Christopher Farrell, senior economics contributor, Marketplace and Minnesota Public Radio; author of “Purpose and a Paycheck, Unretirement, The New Frugality;” and Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities.

When: July 29, 3 to 4 p.m.

Where: Register online at www.renewsenior.com.

There are roughly 117.4 million people over the age of 50 in the United States, of which about 52 million are over the age of 65. By 2060, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) estimates that about 95 million Americans will be over the age of 65.

Some economic analysts view an aging population as a detriment to economic growth, but positive factors among an aging population such as longevity, valuable work experience and a continued desire to work could actually mean the opposite. 

Christopher Farrell, senior economics contributor for American Public Media's Marketplace.
Christopher Farrell, senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace.

“Older people are an underappreciated asset in the U.S. economy,” said Christopher Farrell, senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace and author of “Purpose and a Paycheck, Unretirement, The New Frugality.” 

Farrell is the guest co-host of a July 29 web talk series about why the aging population will help the economy, presented by Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times. 

“There is the concept that the older adult population declines in their value to society, and this is untrue,” said Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities. “That is an entrenched belief, but the script ought to be flipped. People want to contribute to society no matter what age they are.”

Fighting ageism in the workplace

Age discrimination in the workplace cost the U.S economy $850 billion in 2018, according to an AARP report, “The Economic Impact of Age Discrimination.” While many employers recognize older employees’ desire to continue working, few employers are actually taking the steps to create work environments that are responsive to the needs of workers of all ages, according to the report. 

Age discrimination includes less favorable treatment of older people in hiring processes and employment, underempoloyment — such as working jobs or earning wages that are beneath an older person’s qualification level, and longer periods of unemployment. 

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Living.
Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities.

“Just because you’re 65 doesn’t mean you’re brain-dead and don’t have anything to offer,” Farrell said. “We have to create better opportunities for older people.”

Older adults are healthier, better educated and more productive than previous generations, Farrell said, adding that there’s been an explosion of self-employment and entrepreneurship among older people in recent years. 

“You have knowledge and experience, and you know how to solve a problem,” he said. “Startup costs are relatively low if your office is at home or in a co-sharing space — and you don’t have to get through human resources and an ageist management.”

Creating better opportunities for aging Americans

Rather viewing older adults as a drain on the economy, Farrell said more work opportunities that tap into their skills, knowledge and experience could deliver a boon. 

“We all want to be useful, and one way is to continue to tap into our skills,” he said. 

That means creating opportunities for more flexibility, such as part-time work, and rethinking accessibility to ongoing training and education. 

“Someone who graduates from college today can anticipate having a 60 to 70-year career,” Farrell said. 

Longevity research shows that a sense of purpose in life is strongly related to a person’s risk of dying. One study published in the journal JAMA Network Open found that purposeful living is associated with lower mortality from all causes. 

Work is one way people experience living with purpose. Other examples include spending time with family, belonging to something such as a church or social group, and volunteering.

“One way Renew (Senior Communities) would like to get involved is by creating volunteer opportunities for older adults,” Tuchfarber said. “Intensive volunteering is a concept that is conducive to wellness, physically and cognitively, and also conducive to adding value to society. People want to do things that matter, and that’s consistent with this concept of purposefulness.” 

How big tech is intersecting with care for older adults

Dr. Cathy Bodine, a clinician and associate professor in the school of medicine and college of engineering at the University of Colorado.
Dr. Cathy Bodine, a clinician and associate professor in the school of medicine and college of engineering at the University of Colorado.

Since the days before cell phones were even a thing, Dr. Cathy Bodine has been working to improve technology for people with disabilities or people aging into disabilities. 

Bodine, a clinician and associate professor in the school of medicine and college of engineering at the University of Colorado, wants to reduce social isolation — a goal she had long before COVID-19. 

“Social isolation leads to death just as much as cardiovascular disease,” she said. 

Bodine is the featured speaker and co-host in a free web talk on July 15, “How big tech is intersecting with care for older adults,” presented by Renew Senior Communities and co-hosted by Renew CEO Lee Tuchfarber. Here’s a look at some of the topics that will be explored. 

Many seniors are eager to learn new technology

There’s a common myth that seniors aren’t interested in technology, but Bodine said disinterest is usually the result of a more complex problem. 

“The technology doesn’t always meet their needs,” she said. “Seniors love technology, that’s not the problem — it’s the usability, user experience and their own history that interferes.”

Through her research and development of new technologies, she consistently finds that the key to making technology successful for seniors is how intuitive and useful it is. If the benefit of using a technology outweighs the cost of using — cost as in the learning curve, which can be frustrating — seniors will persist, she said. 

Bodine points toward the transparency of application icons as an example. Those who started using technologies that featured these icons from a young age understand that the button with the circle and line through it is the on/off button. But it’s not intuitive for all users. 

Free online talk on technology and aging

What: Renew Senior Communities webcast, “How big tech is intersecting with care for older adults.”

Who: Co-hosted by Cathy Bodine, clinician and associate professor in the school of medicine and college of engineering at the University of Colorado; and Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities

When: July 15, 3 to 4 p.m.

Where: Online. Register at renewsenior.com.

“There are a lot of things that make technology really challenging and increase the cognitive load of being able to learn,” Bodine said. 

The pandemic has revealed this exact challenge — telehealth visits are simple for those who know how to log onto a video conferencing meeting, but it’s not easy for someone who has never used that type of application. 

Renew is experimenting with different communication devices to remove the challenges inherent in older adults holding a video conversation with their adult children, Tuchfarber said. 

“We have noticed that even an iPad can pose challenges for an older adult who is not accustomed to using one — it requires a staff member to operate a device for the resident in order to enable the video conference,” he said. 

Renew has looked at other devices and recognized that the Echo Show 8, for example, has a “drop in” feature that allows an adult child to simply appear on the screen at a scheduled time. In other words, the older adult resident does not have to know how to operate the device. 

“They can simply pick it up and start talking with their children and grandchildren,” Tuchfarber said. “Removing this barrier means that we can reconnect families easily.”

User-centered design

The average age of software engineers around the world tends to be under 35, Bodine said. While they have brilliant intentions and want to design good products, their own personal experiences influence their work. 

“If these engineers have no access to the end users, they’re building a product based on their knowledge rather than the knowledge of their average user,” she said. “Technology has to be developed with the end user in mind, in a way that’s more intuitive.”

Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Living.
Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Living.

Every semester, Bodine has her engineering students work with either a senior or someone with a disability to figure out what the real user problem is with a specific technology. Once students have a better understanding of the problem that needs to be solved, they can design technology around that issue. 

“Think about the lifespan of someone who is 85 years old. Think about the innovations they’ve experienced in their lifetime — automatic transmissions, a man on the moon, development of the computer, cell phones,” Bodine said. “They have a history of seeing lots of technological growth and development, but what we’re not doing so well today is designing the technology for them to be able to use it.”

Bodine goes to the massive Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas each year to meet with people from small and large companies around the world. Her hope is to train the next generation of engineers to be more adept at thinking more broadly about technology design. 

“They’re developing technologies that seniors will buy — the market is driving innovations in how we design and develop these technologies,” she said. 

Emerging technologies

Because of the demographic that is currently aging — Baby Boomers, the second-largest living generation behind Millennials — mainstream technology companies are increasingly interested in aging. Bodine said they’re starting to understand that their business models have to shift to include older populations. 

From artificial intelligence to smart-home designs, there are cutting edge technologies that can not only help seniors with social isolation, but also with mental and physical health. One technology Bodine is studying is the use of wearable sensors that can detect respiratory function, heart rate, temperature and other metrics. Sensors in a toilet can detect if someone has an infection. Bodine is particularly excited about wearable sensors’ ability to detect balance. 

“One of the key indicators for mortality and morbidity is falling. Our balance changes as we age. If we can measure when the balance stability is shifting, then maybe we can get you into physical therapy or senior exercise programs,” she said. “It’s a very exciting time to be working in technology.”

What’s the answer to slowing the spread of COVID-19 for older adults?

Dr. Michael Schmidt, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Dr. Michael Schmidt, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“There’s a lot of stupid floating around out there.”

That’s what South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said during a recent news conference in which he pleaded with the public to make better decisions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“That’s the best quote ever — it’s how you explain the recent surge (in cases),” said Dr. Michael Schmidt, PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Dr. Schmidt is the guest host of an upcoming webcast, “How Colorado Can Work Smarter to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 in Older Adults,” presented by Renew Senior Communities. Renew CEO Lee Tuchfarber is co-hosting.

“This is a plague for which the human race has a choice,” Dr. Schmidt said. “We already know how to stop this virus dead in its tracks.”

Much of the discussion will focus on how we can do our part as a society to slow the spread, but Dr. Schmidt will also discuss promising light at the end of the tunnel. From the potential that oral polio vaccines can safely and cheaply protect the U.S. population to excitement over bluetooth technology expanding the efficiency of contact tracing, Dr. Schmidt said various stop-gap measures could make a big difference until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine.  

“The only thing more infectious than this virus is hope,” he said.

Personal responsibility

The way we control the virus is really straightforward, Dr. Schmidt said — “it’s hygiene.”

Wearing a mask to protect others, washing your hands and keeping a physical distance of at least six feet from other people are the most effective safety precautions.

“If we’ve learned one thing, there are a lot of folks out there who are infected and don’t know it,” he said. “The mere act of speech actually can spread the virus. So, if you’re out carrying your business and talking, wear a mask.”

Physical distancing is your only hope if you’re not wearing a mask. The “hope” being that the virus dissipates in the air before smashing into your face.

“Many medical folks are wearing face shields because the virus can come in from your tear ducts,” Dr. Schmidt said.

As for hand hygiene, simple soap and water is all you need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds.

Strict safety protocols have proven to work at Renew Senior Living’s two communities in Aurora and Glenwood Springs. Tuchfarber said all residents at both communities have remained COVID-free while a great number of the senior living facilities in Colorado have experienced outbreaks.

Renew put various safety measures in place for staff before they enter the building, and they’ve even provided staff with meals to take home to their families to decrease their need to go to the grocery store. Much of this decision-making is data-driven, with various phases of safety measures implemented depending on the R-naught (Ro), which is the estimate of the number of people to whom each infected person spreads the virus.

“There’s an inherent spreadability of the virus itself, but there’s also an environmental factor,” Tuchfarber said. “So behavior can really affect the Ro.”

Join Renew and Dr. Michael Schmidt virtually on July 1

What: “How Colorado Can Work to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 for Older Adults,” a webcast talk series presented by Renew Senior Communities.

When: Wednesday, July 1, 3 to 4 p.m.

Where: Register for free at renewsenior.com.

Featured co-host: Dr. Michael Schmidt, PhD, is a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina. He is a well-published expert in the area of

infectious disease control and pandemics. He ran the American Society for Microbiology

and set its research priorities for vaccines and testing. He hosts a podcast called, “This

Week in Microbiology.” Dr. Schmidt is an advisor to MicrogenDx, the second largest next

generation testing lab in the U.S.


Testing serves a vital role in understanding and controlling the spread of COVID-19, Dr. Schmidt said. He points to data from Taiwan, a densely populated island that has managed to keep its number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date to less than 450 thanks to aggressive testing and contract tracing.

“Going forward, given that we know there is significant asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission of the virus, pre-emptive testing may be a way we help slow the spread of the virus  in areas that have suddeningly seen a surge in an increase in new cases,” he said. “Simply, local areas may wish to routinely screen random members within their community looking for an up-turn in the number of cases. Such a program will be especially important to companies with public-facing employees, so that they can ensure that their employees and customers are as safe as possible.”

Renew is working on a strategy for preemptive testing rather than waiting for a positive case and then reacting to it. Tuchfarber said Renew should be implementing that new protocol very soon.

“Preemptive testing of all staff on a regular basis, unprompted by a positive test result, is presently a rarity in our industry, but is an important measure to assure safety. We are preparing to integrate this program in our COVID-19 safety regimen,” Tuchfarber said. “This is an extra measure of safety that we feel strongly about taking.”

Facilitating a global response

In an effort to facilitate a global response, scientists are looking at three strategies: diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Diagnostics essentially look at how we can slow the spread faster and better, while therapeutics focus on the use of drugs.

“If we’re going to restart the economy, we need two to three drugs so the virus doesn’t adapt to the drugs like it did with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1980s,” Dr. Schmidt said.

Vaccines are the area for which Dr. Schmidt is truly excited. There are more than 90 candidate vaccines currently being studied, with microbiologists, structural biologists, physiologists and others all pulling in the same direction.

7 formas en las que tu participación en el censo beneficia a toda nuestra comunidad

Presentado por el Comité de Conteo Completo de Aspen a Parachute

Asegúrate de que tu voz se escuche

Ser contado en el censo de EE. UU. es una forma de hacer que tu voz se escuche a nivel local, estatal y federal. Tu participación influye en todo, desde la representación política hasta importantes servicios públicos de la comunidad. ¡No te quedes en silencio, ayuda a tu comunidad! El censo de EE. UU. es completamente seguro y su información personal es confidencial.

Para obtener más información, visita a2pcensus2020.com o 2020census.gov.

Si vives en los Estados Unidos, independientemente de si naciste aquí o de cuál es tu estado migratorio, la ley te exige ser contado en el censo de EE. UU. 2020. Hay solo 10 preguntas, que se estima toman unos 10 minutos en completarse.

Desde 1790, el recuento del censo de EE. UU. ha influenciado todo, desde la representación política en el congreso hasta la financiación federal para servicios públicos esenciales.

Los condados del Roaring Fork y Colorado River Valley, así como otras partes interesadas formaron el Comité de Conteo Completo de Aspen a Parachute como un esfuerzo de colaboración para aumentar la participación en el censo en nuestro valle. A través de su campaña “Juntos contamos”, el objetivo del comité es desacreditar los mitos y calmar los temores sobre el censo.

Dado que el conteo del censo solo ocurre una vez cada 10 años, deja que esta lista sirva como recordatorio de por qué no debes ignorar el censo: la participación de cada residente es esencial para la vitalidad de nuestras comunidades.

Ninguna pregunta sobre ciudadanía

En toda la comunidad, el efecto a largo plazo del clima político actual y la confusión en torno a la cuestión de la ciudadanía daba diferentes matices a las percepciones de las personas sobre el censo, dijo Phillip Supino, director de desarrollo comunitario de la ciudad de Aspen y miembro del Comité de Conteo Completo.

Los tribunales federales bloquearon permanentemente los planes de la administración Trump de agregar una pregunta al censo que habría consultado si tu eres ciudadano estadounidense. El comité está recordando a todos los residentes del Roaring Fork Valley que no habrá tal pregunta en el censo 2020.

Tus respuestas al censo son confidenciales.

Las respuestas del censo se utilizan para producir estadísticas, y nada más. La oficina del censo de los EE. UU. tiene la obligación legal de mantener la confidencialidad de tus respuestas.

Las preguntas del censo solicitarán información acerca de la cantidad de personas que viven en tu hogar, los nombres y fechas de nacimiento de cada ocupante, raza, sexo y relación entre ellos. El censo no te preguntará acerca de tu religión, afiliación política o ingresos.

Además, todo el personal de la oficina del censo hace un juramento vitalicio para proteger tu información, y cualquier violación trae consigo una multa de hasta $250,000 y/o hasta 5 años de cárcel.

Los datos del censo NO se pueden usar en tu contra por ningún motivo

Las preguntas del censo solicitarán información sobre el número de personas viviendo en tu casa, los nombres y fechas de nacimiento de cada ocupante, raza, sexo y relación entre ellas. El censo no te cuestionará sobre religión, afiliación política o ingreso.

La ley federal garantiza que tu información personal y tus respuestas no puedan ser utilizadas en tu contra por ninguna agencia gubernamental. Eso significa que tus respuestas al censo no pueden ser compartidas por la oficina del censo con las agencias de inmigración o policiales.

“Sin lugar a dudas, bajo ninguna circunstancia, los datos del censo se pueden compartir entre las agencias”, dijo Supino.

Conteo insuficiente conduce a un financiamiento insuficiente

Los números del censo equivalen a fondos federales para servicios comunitarios vitales como: carreteras, transporte, hospitales, servicios de emergencia, alimentos subsidiados, atención médica y más.

Por cada persona que se cuenta en el censo, Colorado recibe alrededor de $2,300 en fondos federales. Eso es por persona, por año, durante los próximos 10 años.

Eso significa que solo una persona que no se cuente podría resultar en la pérdida de $23,000 dólares federales hasta el próximo conteo del censo en 2030.

“Con solo unos minutos de tu tiempo, puedes ayudar a garantizar fondos para servicios comunitarios importantes como educación, mejoras de carreteras y servicios de salud y humanos”, dijo Jenn Ooton, subdirector de la ciudad de Glenwood Springs. “Además, nuestras comunidades del Roaring Fork y Colorado River Valley están en mejores condiciones para planificar el futuro cuando tenemos recuentos de población precisos”.

Alex Sánchez, director ejecutivo de Valley Settlement, una organización que trabaja para mejorar las vidas de las familias inmigrantes, dijo que la comunidad latina del Roaring Fork Valley fue muy poco contada en el censo de 2010. Esto lleva a una incapacidad a nivel local para apoyar completamente a todos los miembros de la comunidad con los recursos necesarios.

“Esperemos que este año el conteo del censo pueda ser un verdadero reflejo de esta comunidad”, dijo.

Mejor representación política.

Cuando una comunidad se cuenta con precisión, puede representarse de manera más efectiva. Colorado es uno de los cinco estados en occidente que podrían obtener un escaño adicional en el congreso después del censo 2020, pero primero necesitamos una participación exitosa en el censo.

“Todos tenemos un interés personal en asegurarnos de que estamos participando”, dijo Sánchez. “Independientemente del estado migratorio, este es nuestro deber cívico”.

Participar en el censo es fácil

Tu invitación para participar en el censo 2020 se entregará entre el 12 y el 20 de marzo. Una vez que la recibas, puedes responder en línea (www.2020Census.gov), por teléfono (llama al centro de llamadas del censo utilizando el número de teléfono que figura en tu postal de invitación) o puedes enviar tu formulario de respuesta por correo postal.

Día del censo (1 de abril) y otras fechas importantes

Cada dirección postal física recibirá una postal con instrucciones sobre cómo participar en el censo de EE. UU., además de cartas recordatorias, desde hoy hasta el 27 de abril.

El censo de EE. UU. comenzó a aceptar respuestas en línea, por teléfono y por correo el 12 de marzo. El 1ero. de abril se considera el día del censo, lo que significa que todas las preguntas que respondas en el formulario del censo deben incluir a las personas que viven en tu hogar a partir del 1ero. de abril.

De abril a junio, se realizarán recuentos de instalaciones grupales como dormitorios y residencias para ancianos.

En mayo, los trabajadores del censo visitarán los hogares de los no encuestados.

Y finalmente, en diciembre, los datos del censo serán entregados al presidente y al congreso.