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18 to 22-year-olds banned from gathering in Boulder, Colorado, after coronavirus surge

Nearly 80 percent of recent coronavirus cases in the city were affiliated with students at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Colorado University Students Return To Campus For Fall Semester
Students wait in line for registration and an identifying wristband after receiving a negative test result for Covid-19 at University of Colorado Boulder on Aug. 18, 2020.Mark Makela / Getty Images

Following a surge of coronavirus cases at the University of Colorado-Boulder, health officials announced Thursday that 18 to 22-year-old individuals were banned from gatherings of any size for two weeks.

“We must take stronger action to stop the spread of this virus in our community,” Boulder County public health director Jeff Zayach said in a news release. “We have researched the actions we can take that would be effective while minimizing the burden on those who have not been the source of increased transmission. We believe this strategy can achieve both goals.”

Whether indoor or outdoors, anyone aged 18 to 22 years old will not be allowed to gather for two weeks beginning Thursday at 4 p.m. It also includes a list of 36 addresses in Boulder, Colorado, where residents have “repeatedly violated public health orders,” health officials said.

The order comes after the Boulder County Public Health Department reported an upward trend in new COVID-19 cases since Aug. 24, the first day of the University of Colorado-Boulder’s fall semester. Out of 1,469 confirmed or probable cases, 1,097 — or nearly 80 percent — were affiliated with the school during that time window.

Those aged between 18 to 22 have among the highest Covid-19 incidence rates among all age groups, according to health officials. Anyone who violates the order can be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced up to 18 months in jail.

On Sept. 15, the Boulder public health department asked students to voluntarily quarantine for two weeks to curb the spread of coronavirus and restrict their movements to attending class, getting food and seeking medical care. The following week, in-person classes were suspended until at least Oct. 7 after the initial uptick in Covid-19 cases.

In light of the new public health order, Chancellor Phil DiStefano sent a letter Thursday to the university saying that they were enhancing access to health and wellness services. The school was also expanding their lineup of remote events and programming to mitigate the conditions listed by the directive.

Students have the option to stay on campus and follow public health guidelines, or to return home and fully transition to remote learning — however, “traveling home is not our preference and public health agencies have advised against it,” DiStefano wrote in the letter.

“Like many of our peer universities across the country, we continue to face new challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have enacted similar approaches to ours and are successfully reducing their positive cases,” DiStefano said.

“I believe we can as well, but only if we work together and make sacrifices for each other.”