COVID-19 outbreak at CU Boulder now the largest in Colorado, state data says

COVID-19 outbreak at CU Boulder now the largest in Colorado, state data says
Posted at 5:24 PM, Sep 23, 2020

BOULDER, Colo. — 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.

Philip DiStefano, CU Boulder chancellor, said in a statement Monday that the move was "in the immediate interest" of the campus community's health. Students are being asked to remain in university housing, and employees will work remotely, if possible.

University provost Russell Moore said in a news conference Monday that officials have seen fewer COVID-19 cases in recent days, but "unfortunately, the number of cases is not dropping enough."

Students can now face a 10-day suspension — or longer — for violating COVID-19 protocols. Interim executive vice chancellor Patrick O'Rourke said 14 students are currently suspended as they go through the discipline process for health violations. The increased enforcement, O'Rourke said, has led to some change in behavior among students off campus, with fewer violations over the weekend.

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.

This story originally reported by Ryan Osborne on