NewsCovering Colorado


Boulder 18 to 22 gathering ban, indicator of broader pandemic issue

Youth spreading virus
Posted at 7:42 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 08:27:46-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — A ban on gatherings for young people ages 18 to 22 started in Boulder Thursday. “The success of this is going to be relative to individual behavior change,” said Boulder County Public Health Executive Director, Jeff Zayach. The measure is because of skyrocketing COVID-19 cases around the CU Boulder campus.

It is an aggressive two-week precision strike to cut off the virus. Bringing numbers down quickly would allow students to stay on campus. More than students it's also protects other communities. "Sending people home could actually lead to an increase in disease spreading to other communities. We want to be in a position to work with the county to avoid that," said CU Boulder Vice Chancellor, Patrick O’Rourke.

The situation in Boulder is happening at other large universities and colleges. It also points to a data trend beyond college campuses. In El Paso County Colorado for example, the age group with the highest positive COVID-19 test rate is the 20 to 30 age group. The age group is the least likely to require hospitalization. The greater concern is spreading the disease to higher risk members of the community.

The COVID-19 outbreak at the University of Colorado Boulder is now the largest in the state, with 1,198 positive cases among students and 104 with probable cases of the virus, according to the latest outbreak data released by state officials Wednesday.

Twelve staffers have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the data.

CU Boulder on Wednesday switched to fully-remote classes for at least the next two weeks, as university officials work to curb the spread of COVID-19 among students, with cases on the rise and isolation spaces dwindling on campus.

CU Boulder wasn't the only university to appear on the state's updated outbreak list Wednesday, though it was, by far, the largest.

Eight outbreaks were reported at the University of Denver, including several sororities, the gymnastics team and a residential building. The case numbers in those outbreaks ranged from 3-9.

Two sororities and a fraternity at Colorado State University also reported outbreaks, with the Kappa Sigma fraternity having the most cases at 13 confirmed and four probable.

While Colorado has seen a large spike in cases among 18-25-year-olds over the last two weeks, State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said there was also “concerning” increases among other age groups that are more vulnerable to more-severe bouts with the virus.

“Even among other age groups, we’re seeing rapid acceleration of the virus,” Herlihy said.

She and Gov. Jared Polis said that the increases in cases – 12 of the last 14 days have seen increasing case numbers in the state – were similar to the spike seen after the July 4 holiday but that they were still investigating the exact cause and if the Labor Day holiday gatherings were attributable.

But Polis also said that it was possible that Coloradans had again reduced their caution in wearing masks, staying 6 feet apart and not attending large gatherings.

(Denver7's Ryan Osborne contributed to this report)