University of Colorado Boulder students and 18- to 22-year-olds who live in Boulder are now under the same gathering restrictions as the rest of Boulder County, Boulder County Public Health announced Tuesday.
Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach cited falling coronavirus case counts, low case positivity rates and consistent testing among 18- to 22-year-olds, which are the metrics health officials are using to determine gathering limits for young people. The county is now at baseline restrictions for 18- to 22-year-olds, which mirror state and local public health rules. Gatherings are currently limited to 10 people.
Surging cases among the young people — particularly University of Colorado Boulder students — prompted public health officials to enact restrictions on group sizes and activities in September.
The current rates for 18- to 22-year-olds is a 14-day average of 239.5 cases per 100,000 people and 4.4% case positivity rate, down from 3,775 cases per 100,000 people in late September.
But Zayach and CU Boulder Interim Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke stressed caution when speaking to community members at a coronavirus briefing Tuesday.
Coronavirus cases are rising statewide and locally, and Boulder County currently has its highest rates of hospitalization since May 1, with 34 people now hospitalized for COVID-19.
“Baseline in terms of statistics doesn’t mean normal,” O’Rourke said. “We are still in a situation where COVID is prevalent on the campus and in the community, and if we don’t maintain our vigilance now, we face the possibility of having another spike in cases and having to go back to a more restrictive setting.”
Officials also called out off-campus students for violating public health orders with large gatherings, including Greek houses.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is currently being investigated by the Interfraternity Council on the Hill for violating public health orders for the second time on Oct. 11 with a party that had between 150 and 200 people. The chapter is not affiliated with CU Boulder.
O’Rourke incorrectly stated the fraternity was suspended by IFC on the Hill, but Greek Advocate Marc Stine told the Daily Camera that Sigma Alpha Epsilon is not suspended but under a “cease and desist” order while IFC investigates allegations against the chapter. A CU Boulder spokesperson later confirmed the campus was informed of the cease and desist order.
Under the order, Sigma Alpha Epsilon cannot participate in any events, including new member meetings, social/brotherhood events, philanthropy events, have an active presence on social media or do anything considered a chapter gathering, according to a letter sent by IFC on the Hill President Adam Wenzlaff.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon participated in an IFC Judicial Board hearing on Monday, Stine said, but the results of that hearing were not available Tuesday.
O’Rourke described the chapter’s public health violations as “ongoing.” The fraternity has been cited twice this semester for violating public health orders with large gatherings, the last of which occurred in the early hours of Oct. 11. Boulder Police spokesperson Shannon Aulabaugh confirmed there have been no new citations at an SAE property since Oct. 11.
O’Rourke thanked IFC on the Hill “and other Greek leaders in the community who are demanding more of their members and making sure they are engaging in the right type of behavior that’s going to allow the campus to remain safe.”
O’Rourke also called out three additional properties for flouting public health orders — Kappa Sigma at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. and houses at 510 S. 44th St. and 1037 12th St.
There were two tickets issued Friday at Kappa Sigma for violating public health orders, Aulabaugh confirmed. The house at 510 S. 44th St. was cited for parties on Thursday and Oct. 8, and 1037 12th St. was cited on Oct. 11. Kappa Sigma is not affiliated with IFC on the Hill nor CU Boulder, according to their websites.
“We are going to continue to take (public health violations) seriously, and we are going to pursue enforcement,” Zayach said Tuesday. “They put our entire community at risk, they put the students who are doing the right thing at risk and we’re going to continue to focus on that because it is critically important.”