BOULDER | All students at the University of Colorado’s main campus are being told by local health authorities to self-quarantine starting Wednesday for the next two weeks to stem an alarming rise in coronavirus cases.
Jeffrey J. Zayach, executive director of Boulder County Public Health, sent an advisory Tuesday to students, faculty and staff at the Boulder campus. Zayach warned mandatory restrictions could follow if students do not comply.
University officials have reported 13 positive tests the first week of school, 90 the second week and 205 the third week. Most cases involve students who live off-campus. Officials say on-campus enrollment has dropped slightly this year for reasons related to the pandemic; roughly 30,000 students have enrolled in recent academic years.
Zayach asked students to stay at home — and especially to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people — whenever possible, with exceptions: To attend in-person classes, laboratory work and intercollegiate athletic training; go to work; and run essential errands such as child care and shopping for food or medicine. They can also exercise while observing social distancing and mask-wearing protocols, he said.
Zayach said that “it is imperative that all students comply with contact tracing and case investigation efforts.” And he warned that “more stringent and mandatory restrictions will be imposed if students do not comply and break the transmission cycle.”
Later Wednesday, the City of Boulder issued a mandatory self-quarantine order — with similar conditions to Zayach’s advisory — for residents of an off-campus duplex that is an annex for Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Residents have “repeatedly engaged in activities that violate public health orders during this pandemic,” the city said in a statement.
Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said Tuesday there have been six COVID-19 outbreaks at Colorado colleges and universities — putting at risk host communities and especially older residents more susceptible to the coronavirus. It’s a phenomenon that’s been seen nationwide.
In Boulder County, more than 660 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks — two-thirds of whom are “associated” with CU students, Zayach said.
In Denver, the city health department directed Regis University to adopt a two-week quarantine starting Wednesday that affects nearly 140 students who live in a cluster of on-campus apartments. The private Jesuit Catholic school reported at least 32 coronavirus cases on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Colorado College, a liberal arts school in Colorado Springs, moved to online classes after hundreds of students went into quarantine.
For most people, the 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. The vast majority of people recover.