29 Aurora employees in quarantine; connection with Mayor Coffman’s infection unclear

Mayor Mike Coffman in his city hall office conducting a virtual city council meeting online. The meetings are conducted with most members and city officials remotely as part of the pandemic crisis. SCREEN SHOT BY SENTINEL COLORADO

AURORA | Almost 30 of the city’s more than 3,500 employees are self-quarantining to limit the spread of COVID-19, but officials won’t say how many employees are doing so because of Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman’s weekend announcement that he has COVID-19.

City spokesperson Michael Bryant said Tuesday 29 employees were quarantined, but those quarantines were “not all connected with the mayor.” He said the city doesn’t track employee quarantines based on specific infections. 

Bryant wouldn’t say whether the quarantines included city staff and department chiefs also working in city hall — possibly near Coffman, who regularly works inside city hall. 

Coffman said he’d come home from work Thursday not feeling well, thinking he had a very mild cold. On Sunday, he received a rapid COVID-19 test and announced he had tested positive for the virus. 

Through his personal spokesperson Aurora Ogg, Coffman did not respond to requests for comment about his recent schedule or who he regularly meets with at city hall. 

Tri-County Health Department officials worked with Coffman to identify employees and others who were possibly exposed to the virus, spokesperson Gary Sky said in a statement. Sky did not respond when asked how many individuals had been asked to self-quarantine because of those contact tracing efforts. 

Coffman regularly posts photos of himself on social media attending community events while wearing a mask. Last Wednesday — the day before he left work feeling ill — Coffman posted a photo of himself standing next to Roland Denegri, the General Consul of Peru. Both men wore masks in the posted photo.

That day, Coffman also tweeted that he visited an art exhibit at the Stanley Marketplace.

A person with COVID-19 can spread the virus beginning two days before experiencing symptoms or receiving a positive test, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The announcement Sunday caused a stir in the governor’s office. Sunday morning, Polis announced he would go into quarantine because of Coffman’s infection. The two had been at a press conference together on Wednesday. Later on Sunday, Polis said he was advised by health department officials that, after learning details of the press conference, they determined the governor was not at risk for infection, cancelling quarantine.

During contact tracing processes, investigators ask people who have recently contracted the virus to identify others they had close contact with. “Close contact” means being within six feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes, according to the CDC.

The 29 employees currently self-isolating are working remotely if their job allows for it, Bryant added. Their quarantine length might stretch from one to two weeks depending on their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Coffman has said on social media that he is not relatively absent of symptoms.

Coffman contracted COVID-19 at a time when cases are rising along with hospitalizations attributed to the virus. Public health authorities are tightening restrictions in attempts to control viral spread. 

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