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September 15, 2020

Public Health, CU, and the City of Boulder Respond to Increase in COVID Cases

Boulder County, CO - In the last two weeks there has been a significant increase in the number of Boulder County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. The majority of these new cases has been among Boulder residents, particularly those aged 18 to 29, many of whom attend the University of Colorado Boulder.

Most transmission seems to be coming from large off-campus gatherings, particularly among sororities, fraternities and other students living in the Hill neighborhood, along with failure to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing.

In response, Boulder County Public Health, CU Boulder, and the City of Boulder are partnering to take swift action to stop the spread of the virus.

Today, Boulder County Public Health issued a strong recommendation to every CU Boulder student living in Boulder to quarantine in their Boulder home or residence hall for 14 days. Individuals should not leave their residence unless it is for work, class, or getting food, to take care of children, or seek medical attention (including to get tested) that cannot be provided remotely.

“We must stop this spike in cases. It affects the health, safety, and livelihood of all of our Boulder County residents,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director. “While this isn’t a perfect solution, it’s our hope that this will halt the current spread of the virus and allow us to better control transmission of this virus in the county.”

The university is supporting this measure and communicating its clear expectations to students that it be followed.

“We are cooperating fully with Boulder County Public Health for the health and safety of everyone in our community,” said CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “The next several days are critical for us to avoid more stringent restrictions on our campus operations. We need more students to do their part and follow public health guidelines at this important moment.”

Other actions from CU will include supporting students on campus with testing, resources to support the quarantine in place, including food, medical as well as mental health support. Additionally, virtual events and programs will be offered to support students to engage outside of the classroom in the safest way possible.

“The City of Boulder values our long-standing partnership with the University and recognizes the important role that staff, faculty, and students play in our community’s vibrancy. At the same time, it is critically important that students act on their responsibilities to each other and their neighbors. Public health rules are in place for a reason, and lives - and livelihoods - depend on compliance with them. The unprecedented number of cases in the city calls for urgent action, beginning with these steps,” said Mayor Sam Weaver.

Boulder County Public Health has also partnered with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to bring a free walk-up testing site to Boulder, beginning tomorrow, and a drive-thru site in the very near future.

“We want to make sure there are no barriers for students to know if they might be spreading this virus,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director. “By having free and easy testing available, we can more quickly and effectively identify and separate those who are ill.”

Any Boulder County resident (including CU students) who is interested in being tested is encouraged to visit the testing site. An appointment is not required and there is no cost for the test. In addition, residents do not need to have COVID symptoms to be tested. Residents should bring a form of identification in order to ensure test results are accurately recorded. Full details, including hours and location are available at

“These are just two of the many steps we are taking in partnership with CU and the city to protect our entire community,” said Zayach. “We will share more information about additional steps we’re planning as soon as the legal and logistical issues are worked out.”

Boulder County Public Health will continue to monitor case rates and transmission and is prepared to take additional steps, beyond those outlined above, if rates do not stabilize.

A media availability is being scheduled for Wednesday to answer questions and address concerns. Details will be announced to the media on Wednesday morning.