A change in reporting is to blame for confusion over a new COVID-19 outbreak at CSU

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Posted at 3:57 PM, Oct 08, 2020

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Based on numbers provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Colorado State University had more than 300 positive COVID-19 cases, making it one of the state’s largest outbreak sites. But, not everything was as it seemed.

"I mean, it definitely is like a little bit concerning just because we are in a global pandemic and to see those numbers rise, it can be a little concerning for sure," said CSU student, Deborah Oduro.

Many students on CSU’s campus were beyond confused.

"Does lead you to think, are there this many cases? Why is the state coming out and saying this and like CSU rejected it? it definitely is a little suspicious," said Oduro.

Wednesday evening, the state health department reported 375 confirmed COVID-19 cases among students.

But in total, CSU has had 468 cases since May of this year and for the last few days they’ve only reported a total of 15 new cases.

"There’s definitely a little concern for me because there’s already such misinformation going around I feel like, like today in America with the coronavirus in general, so obviously I want to trust CSU and I want to trust the state so it’s hard to like, figure out which one is telling the truth, I guess," said CSU student Caroline Floyd.

The reality is they’re both telling the truth.

"We do not have an outbreak of 300 and some cases actively. That was a change in the reporting system to the state and my understanding at this point is what they posted was an aggregate number since the beginning of the school semester and not an accurate depiction of an outbreak," said Executive Director for CSU Health Network, Lori Lynn.

Meaning the state health department combined the number of positive cases since August for CSU.

"I don’t believe that there was any intent to provide inaccurate information. I think we just need to understand what was gathered, how it is presented and go forward with ensuring that the numbers that are put out there are an accurate depiction of the status of the university," said Lynn.

Many students say they believe the university is doing a good job so far, despite witnessing smaller outbreaks within the football team and Greek life.

"Just the way the school is handling things I’m not too concerned about it just because I’ve been doing what I have to do to socially distance myself from other people and wearing a mask and washing my hands," said Oduro.

The CDPHE issued the following statement Thursday afternoon about the changes:

“After consulting with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, which is leading the disease investigation at the local level, CDPHE and LCDHE are evolving the classification of active outbreaks and individual cases at CSU into a single outbreak.

“The number currently reported on CDPHE’s outbreak report represents a combination of all active outbreaks and positive cases since Aug. 24 when students started classes. This includes the most recently reported outbreaks among athletics and Greek life. CSU and LCDHE are currently analyzing the number of COVID cases known to the university.”