BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — In an effort to slow the sharp rise of positive COVID-19 cases in Boulder, and transmission of those 18 to 22 years old, Boulder County Public Health issued a new public health order that prohibits all people in that age group ini the city from gatherings of any size.
This applies to all indoor, outdoor, on-campus and off-campus locations in the city of Boulder, according to the order.
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.
Specifically, the order says all young adults who are 18 to 22 years old can exercise outside alone, study outside alone and go to work if they don't live in one of those residences with stay-at-home requirements. They can interact with others they live with.
The order goes into effect on Thursday at 4 p.m. and will last 14 days — until noon on Oct. 8. Officials will reevaluate the available data then to determine the next best step, officials said.
Read the order in full here. Officials further explained the order in two press conferences Thursday morning. Both are available below.
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.
This order is supported by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
In addition, Dan Jones, CU Boulder Associate Vice Chancellor of Integrity, Safety and Compliance said the school supports the order.
“This new public health directive will be a strain on our students living in Boulder, and we are focusing on efforts to support them," he said.
Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director, said the county needs to take stronger action to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We have researched the actions we can take that would be effective while minimizing burden on those who have not been the source of increased transmission," he said. "We believe this strategy can achieve both goals.”
He said he understands how this order may have a negative effect on the young adults' mental health.
“We urge family and friends to support the young adults in their life during this time by being available for them and helping them access mental health resources, if needed," Zayach said. "The more diligently this order is followed, the sooner we’ll be able to lift it.”
He said the success of this is dependent on individual behavior changes.
"We know this age group is generating the majority of the challenges right now and this age group can absolutely be part of the solution," Zayach said. "It's going to come down to everyone taking responsibility for that individual behavior so that we don't force our community into a place where we have to issue other orders or we have to put our county in a place where we damage our economy."
Pam Davis, assistant city manager for Boulder, said Boulder businesses will see a temporary reduction in their customers because of this order. She urged other Boulder residents to visit those local businesses, especially those in the Hill neighborhood.
"Please, do show them extra love during this time," Davis said.
Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam said these young adults are a valued part of the community and have a responsibility to comply with these orders.
The COVID-19 outbreak at the University of Colorado Boulder is the largest in the state, with 1,198 positive cases among students and 104 with probable cases of the virus, according to the latest outbreak data released by state officials Wednesday. Twelve staffers have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the data. CU Boulder on Wednesday switched to fully-remote classes for at least the next two weeks.
CU Boulder students can now face a 10-day suspension — or longer — for violating COVID-19 protocols.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued a statement about the new order shortly after it was released Thursday.
“Gov. Polis knows that the better students do avoiding gatherings, the sooner they can get back to in person learning and the sooner they can resume their regular activities," he statement reads. "We know this isn’t the school year that any of us imagined, but urgent action is needed to prevent further spread in the community.”
Anybody who feels they need support can contact Colorado Crisis Services by calling 1-844-493-8255 or Texting “TALK” to 38255. Click here for CU Boulder's mental health resources.
Interim Executive Vice Chancellor Patrick O'Rourke said 374 housing cancellations have been made since August through this week.
Anybody in the 18 to 22 age group who tests positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms of it is required to isolate.