BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Bryan McGinnis, director of the University of Colorado’s football operations, was cited Friday for violating coronavirus-related public health orders after a team practice mountain hike involving 108 people, many of them not wearing masks or social distancing, the City of Boulder said.
Rangers learned about Thursday’s hike on Mount Sanitas, just west of downtown, and “visually confirmed that many participants were not wearing masks or observing social distancing when passing community members on the trail,” city spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said in a statement.
The group also violated a city requirement that groups of 25 or more people get a permit to use open space and mountain park land owned by the city, Huntley said.
Public health orders limit groups to 10 people to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
CU Athletic Director Rick George issued a statement saying “we acknowledge the lapse in judgement and apologize for our football team partaking in a group activity like this on public open space amid the current COVID-19 climate. We share in the community’s concern and anxiety about the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and we do not tolerate actions that are contrary to public health orders.
“We will address this with our football program, and continue to educate our coaches, staff and student-athletes about the importance of complying with public health orders, including wearing masks and physical distancing at all times while in public,” George said.
George noted that all student-athletes are frequently tested for COVID-19 and that all players who took part in the hike had recently tested negative. He also noted that intercollegiate athletic training is permitted under a strong recommendation this week by Boulder County that CU students self-quarantine as much as possible.
The citation means McGinnis will have to appear at some point in municipal court. He could face a maximum $1,000 fine, Huntley said.
She added that “law enforcement officers will issue citations for especially egregious behaviors like what occurred during this recent hike.”
In recent days, city and university officials have acted to stem an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases involving university students, which the city says could threaten the larger community.
The university has reported at least 670 COVID-19 cases since classes began about a month ago. Students living locally are under a recommended two week quarantine. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
On Wednesday, the city issued a mandatory self-quarantine order for residents of an off-campus duplex that is a fraternity annex. Residents there have “repeatedly engaged in activities that violate public health orders during this pandemic,” the city said.
The university also is forcing some students to move out of their dorms and into other residence halls this weekend to create more isolation housing for students with COVID-19.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.