DENVER — City officials on Thursday announced new COVID-19 protocols and requirements for Denver colleges, as coronavirus cases have spiked in the city in recent weeks.
Colleges are now required to conduct daily health screenings of students, faculty, staff and other campus guests; strictly enforce the city's mask requirement; and require all student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and other members of athletic teams to wear masks during all indoor and outdoor activities where social distancing is not possible.
If one or more COVID-19 cases are identified on a team, then all team activities must be suspended under the city's public health order.
The order also put other restrictions into place, including a ban on campus housing visitors. Any student, faculty member or staffer who violates the health order could face up to a $999 fine, per violation.
While the main COVID-19 outbreak at Colorado universities has been in Boulder, Denver schools have not been without some spread of the virus.
Regis University in northwest Denver has seen 32 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 13 probable cases.
The University of Denver has seen several outbreaks of a handful of cases, including clusters of cases in several sororities, the gymnastics team and a residential building.
Denver's downtown Auraria Campus, which includes Metropolitan State University of the University of Colorado Denver, did not have any active outbreaks in the latest data from the state Wednesday.
Citywide, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise since the beginning of September, an uptick that officials predicted, if social distancing was not followed at schools and over the Labor Day holiday.
"Being young doesn't come with being immune to the virus or the serious effects that come with it," Mayor Michael Hancock said Thursday. "This is how we’re going to get this virus back under control. Alternative and long term ramifications are not something we want to go to. If young people do what they have to do, they can do what they want to do down the road."
Denver's newest health order came hours after Boulder upped restrictions again to contain the curb of the virus at the University of Colorado Boulder, banning people ages 18-22 from gathering in any capacity.
In addition, the order identified 36 addresses where people have repeatedly violated the public health orders, and requires those individuals to stay at their residence at all times. The only exceptions to this part of the order are to seek medical care, exercise outside alone, and obtain necessary supplies such as food, pet food, medical supplies and products needed for safety and sanitation via curbside pickup or contact-less delivery.
New cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise for nearly three weeks in Boulder County. The health department said the new COVID-19 cases are vastly due to transmission of people 18 to 22 years old, particularly those at the University of Colorado Boulder and living in the Hill neighborhood.