Boulder County, meanwhile, reported 100 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday — the largest number of daily cases since March 13 when 116 new cases were reported.
Boulder County Public Health reported that the number of new cases brings the county’s total to 20,708. The death toll remained at 250. There were 20 people in Boulder County’s hospitals Wednesday because of COVID-19. There were also five COVID-19 patients discharged. To date, 689 residents have been hospitalized because of the virus.
In response to Wednesday’s case numbers, Angela Simental, Boulder County Public Health’s acting communications manager, urged people to “hang in there for a few more months.”
“As the weather gets warmer and restrictions loosen, we need to remain vigilant and continue wearing masks, keeping social distance and washing our hands,” Simental wrote in an email. “It takes all of us to end this pandemic!”
As the Easter holiday approaches Sunday, Mike Stratton Boulder County Public Health spokesperson, also asked people to keep gatherings small and personal, with only a household or two involved.
“While more vaccines are being distributed every day, there are still many who are not fully vaccinated yet — which means it’s been at least two weeks since their final vaccine shot,” Stratton wrote in an email. “Until we reach the stage where everyone around you is vaccinated, the best thing all of us can do to help contain the virus is follow those guidelines we’ve (known) since this pandemic began. Wear a mask, keep your distance from people not in your household, and wash your hands.”
Students can ‘count on’ fall in-person classes
More details about the fall semester were shared during a CU Boulder virtual community meeting on the coronavirus. During the meeting, students and faculty were invited to ask questions.
Patrick O’Rourke, CU Boulder’s chief operating officer, said officials are looking forward to the fall semester when they hope to see some semblance of normalcy return.
“We are hoping to offer a much revitalized CU experience built largely on in-person instruction,” O’Rourke said. “We will believe the progress of vaccine rollout will make the transition safe for more in-person instruction, more in-person events in the fall. We will continue to monitor public health guidance and adjust our plans as needed to make sure we are maintaining health and safety.”
The state on Friday will open up COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to anyone 16 and older. By the summer, O’Rourke said campus officials think there will be enough vaccine supply available that any adult who wants to be vaccinated will be able to get the shots. The university has an online vaccine sign up form available for students, faculty and staff.
“We’re conservatively estimating that at the beginning of the fall semester at least 75% of the campus population will have immunity to COVID-19, either through vaccination or through prior infection,” O’Rourke said. “We anticipate many incoming or returning students as well as new faculty and staff may want to get a vaccine. We plan to offer it in the fall, as long as we’re able to maintain our vaccine supply.”
CU Boulder reported on Wednesday that during testing Tuesday there were 16 positive COVID-19 test results out of 119 diagnostic tests and 1,700 monitoring tests, according to the university’s online dashboard. There were 18 isolation spaces in use, which is roughly 3% of the campus’ isolation reserve. Since Jan. 4, there have been 541 total positive test results and 8,769 diagnostic and 72,911 monitoring tests.
Provost Russell Moore said students could “count on it,” in reference to classes being largely in person in the fall.
As registration for fall classes opens Monday, Moore said students will be choosing from classes that are roughly 71% in person, 10% hybrid, with the remainder being remote.
Moore said some larger lecture classes will continue remotely, because the university will be maintaining 3 feet of distancing in the classroom, which impacts the capacity of lecture halls. He said classrooms with fewer than 100 students and movable furniture will be close to pre-pandemic capacity. Classrooms with more than 100 students and those with fixed seating will have lower density.
“Current models show that even with reduced social distancing within our classrooms, the risk of transmission would be extremely low,” Moore said. “Through extensive contact tracing, we’ve yet to identify a single in-class transmission of the virus.”
Will CU Boulder require the COVID-19 vaccine?
About whether CU Boulder will require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated to be on campus, O’Rourke said while there’s no requirement at the moment, campus officials are continuing to evaluate “the legal and ethical implications,” of whether immunization could be required. In the meantime, O’Rourke said people are encouraged to get the vaccine.
Moore echoed the sentiment.
“We’re encouraging everyone to take the vaccine,” Moore said. “It’s something we know can be protective of not just the campus, but the community. If we do that, it really does become a key for us being able to return to a campus experience in the fall where we will be able to have the type of in-person — not just educational but events and co-curricular activities — that we know students and members of the community want to have.”
O’Rourke also addressed the mask mandate, which is set to expire on Saturday, but which state officials vouch will be renewed as a modified mask order seeking to “account for where we are in the pandemic.” The university will follow state and local public health order guidance on masks, he said.
Campus officials do not plan to offer surveillance testing of the virus in the fall because of widespread vaccination availability, O’Rourke said. People can still expect the CU Boulder Medical Services team to offer diagnostic testing on campus at that time, he said.
Riot investigations continue
O’Rourke also said the campus is working to finish its investigations of a riot that occurred March 6 on University Hill. He said there are more than 50 active student conduct referrals. However, authorities have focused their priorities on helping to investigate the mass shooting at the Table Mesa King Soopers on March 22.
“We will return to those, and we will make sure we are following up and taking action to address the riot that occurred,” O’Rourke said.
More information about resources for students to get help after the shooting tragedy, which took the lives of 10 people, are available at CU Boulder’s Office of Victims Assistance and Counseling and Psychiatric Services, which can be found online. Faculty and staff can seek help through the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.
CU Boulder officials will host their next COVID-19 community meeting at noon Tuesday. People can tune in online at colorado.edu/covid-19.
“We’ve endured much in the past year and none of us will emerge unchanged,” O’Rourke said. “But we and the city of Boulder will work to recover together.”
School district cases
The Boulder Valley School District reported five active cases and 55 quarantines among 53 students and two staff members, according to the district’s online dashboard.
In the St. Vrain Valley School District, there were 27 active cases reported among 25 students and two staff members, according to the district’s dashboard. Since the start of the school year, there have been 1,018 cases among 772 students and 246 staff.
Statewide, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that there were 462,081 cases. There have been 6,238 deaths because of COVID-19. The state reported a total of 6,107 deaths among cases. There have been 25,417 people hospitalized. Of Colorado’s more than 5.7 million population, there have been 2,725,439 people tested.
Boulder Valley School District cases, quarantines
BVSD elementary schools:
- Superior: 1 active case; 22 students and 1 staff quarantined
BVSD high schools:
- Broomfield: 1 active case; 3 students quarantined
- Fairview High School Athletics: 1 active case; 11 students and 1 staff member quarantined
- Peak to Peak Athletics: 1 active case; 6 students quarantined
- Eldorado PK8: 1 active case; 11 students quarantined
St. Vrain Valley School District cases
SVVSD elementary schools
- Blue Mountain: 2 student cases
- Burlington: 1 student case
- Central: 1 student case
- Red Hawk: 1 student case
- Sanborn: 1 staff case
SVVSD middle schools
- Altona: 2 student cases
- Erie: 3 student cases
SVVSD high schools
- Erie: 7 student cases
- Frederick: 1 student case
- Mead: 2 student cases
- Silver Creek: 2 student cases
- Skyline: 1 student case
- LaunchED Virtual Academy: 1 student case
- Soaring Heights PK-8: 1 student and 1 staff case