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COVID-19 cases drop among CU Boulder students, but restrictions still needed, officials say

Posted at 12:00 PM, Oct 01, 2020

BOULDER, Colo. — Officials on Thursday said COVID-19 case counts are dropping on the University of Colorado Boulder campus after the school and city upped restrictions and enforcement in recent weeks.

CU's interim chief operating officer, Patrick O'Rourke, said the positivity rate for on-campus COVID-19 testing dropped below 2% in recent days, down from levels above 5% and, on some days, above 10%, over the last two weeks.

Jeff Zayach, the Boulder County Public Health director, said the county has seen a significant drop in COVID-19 cases among people ages 18-22.

The university reported five new positive cases on Wednesday. Here was a look at how the cases have dropped in recent days, comparing new cases from CU-affiliated residents to the county as a whole:

The county last week banned all gatherings for people in that age group in an effort to curb to spread of coronavirus among CU students. The health order was later modified to allow

Still, while officials Thursday brought some good news, they emphasized the need to continue social distancing, wearing masks and taking other

The ban on gatherings for ages 18-22 is still in place, and CU Boulder students are still taking classes remotely for at least the next week.

Zayach said cases have been on the rise in the county, excluding the 18-22 age group. The incidence rate for Boulder County is above 400 per 100,000 people, Zayach said, and the county's goal is to get that number to around 175 per 100,000 people.

O'Rourke said it's still too early to determine how effective CU has been in flattening the curve of COVID-19 rates.

Under the county health order, people aged 18-22 can gather in groups of two, but must follow social distancing requirements when possible and abide by other public health orders.

The health department’s limitation on gatherings among college-aged students are among several steps taken to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus in Boulder, which they say stems mostly from illegal gatherings among students.

On Friday, the health department issued an emergency order that went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday that prohibits the sale of alcohol at bars, restaurants and clubs between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., which also runs through noon on Oct. 8.

The statewide “last call order” had already prohibited sales at those types of businesses after 11 p.m., but Boulder officials said that the earlier time is aimed at slowing “the increasing spread of coronavirus among young people in Boulder.”

Boulder is in the state’s Safer at Home Level 2 status, but the city warned that it could have to move to Level 3 if cases continue to rise, which would impose further restrictions on city residents and businesses.

The university is remote learning through at least next Wednesday amid the spike in cases.

The Denver Post reported Saturday that more than 500 students had withdrawn from the university since the beginning of the fall semester amid the surge in cases, move to remote learning and restrictions.