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Coronavirus cases continue to rise as Boulder County risks moving to Safer at Home Level 3 restrictions

Virus-related death toll also increases by three to 92


Boulder County saw three more deaths and is on the verge of having to move to Safer At Home Level 3 restrictions, as health officials warned rising case numbers could lead to the county moving one step closer to stay-at-home orders.

Boulder County reported 95 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the total to 6,225. The death toll meanwhile rose to 92 after additional virus-related deaths on Thursday, Monday and Tuesday were added to the count.

Two of the people who died were in their 80s and one was in their 60s, Boulder County Health spokeswoman Chana Goussetis said. None of them were associated with an assisted living facility, and while officials do not yet know the exact circumstances of how they got the virus, Goussetis wrote “there is no doubt that the rapid rise in transmission of COVID-19 in the past weeks increased the likelihood that these individuals were exposed to someone with the virus.”

“Our friends and family members are dying from this disease,” Goussetis wrote. “We urge residents to limit their outings and gatherings, wear a mask, keep their distance, and stay home when you’re sick. This is the only way we will be able to reverse this trend.”

In a conference call Tuesday morning with University of Colorado Boulder officials, Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach said Boulder County’s incidence rate has risen into Level 3 while the county’s positivity rate remains at Level 2.

The incidence rate is the number of cases per 100,000 people, while the positivity rate refers to the rate of coronavirus cases among those tested for the virus.

Should both numbers move into Level 3, Zayach said Boulder County could wind up moving from Safer at Home Level 2 restrictions to Level 3 restrictions, the last phase before stay-at-home orders on the state’s coronavirus response dial. Zayach noted the state has already done this for other counties like Denver.

Level 3 restrictions would include more limitations on gatherings and reduced capacities at restaurants, businesses and gyms.

“At some point, the state will move us if we cannot lower our numbers,” Zayach said.

Zayach noted that cases are increasing across many different age groups, and said hospitalizations are up for every age group over 30.

“We really do need to pay attention,” Zayach said. “This impacts multiple age groups.”

Zayach said in the county right now, about one in every 219 people is infected, as opposed to a rate of closer to one in every 800 over the summer.

“This means we have a lot of virus in our community,” Zayach said. “It’s a lot easier to spread, a lot easier to catch.”

The University of Colorado Boulder reported five new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, but over the weekend police reported breaking up numerous parties on University Hill.

Boulder police issued at least 22 citations for public health order violations and nuisance parties and broke up at least eight parties on Friday and Saturday night, while CU Boulder police issued an additional three citations for violating public health orders.

“What we saw over the weekend is not OK,” CU Boulder Interim Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke said.

While Zayach said numbers among CU Boulder students have risen slightly in recent days, O’Rourke noted the increase in numbers have typically trailed behind the gathering activities.

“My guess is we will see a spike in cases after the parties we saw this weekend,” O’Rourke said. “We can’t confuse having numbers going down with being out of the woods.”

O’Rourke urged more CU Boulder community members to get tested, and also noted it was especially important with the university’s Thanksgiving break coming up.

“Students can get tested, we want them to get tested, we need them to get tested,” O’Rourke said. “We know as they are returning to their communities, as they are returning to their families, as they are going to see people in different age groups, we don’t want them to expose their community to COVID in Colorado or across the country.”

But Zayach said that in order to avoid tighter restrictions, all age groups would have to drive their case numbers down.

“We know that people are getting COVID fatigue, and we know this is hard for people,” Zayach said. “We don’t want people to lose hope, we will get through this.

“It comes down to all of our individual behaviors.”

Meanwhile, Boulder Valley School District reported that Manhattan Middle School of Arts and Academics will move to remote learning Wednesday due to a lack of staffing caused by quarantines. It is the fourth school in the district to have to move to remote learning due to the virus.

Zayach said that in order to keep both CU Boulder and K-12 students in classes, Boulder County will have to reduce numbers across the board.

“That is the challenge for us as we move forward,” Zayach said.

Boulder Valley School District schools reporting confirmed positive cases include Crest View Elementary with two, Douglass Elementary with one, Eisenhower Elementary with four, Emerald Elementary with one, Fireside Elementary with one, Foothill Elementary with one, Gold Hill with one, High Peaks with one, Lafayette Elementary with one, Meadowlark Elementary with one, Pioneer Elementary with two, University Hill with two, Broomfield Heights with one, Manhattan Middle with one, Southern Hills with one, Boulder High with five and Broomfield High with two.

Aspen Creek Elementary, Columbine Elementary, Community Montessori, Creekside Elementary, Horizons Elementary and Ryan Elementary have all also reported probable cases or individuals with symptoms pending test results.

St. Vrain Valley School District’s coronavirus dashboard shows 154 cumulative cases among students and staff, 55 of which are active.

Among students there are two active cases at Alpine Elementary, one at Altona Middle School, two at Blue Mountain Elementary, three at Coal Ridge Middle School, one at Erie High School, four at Fall River Elementary School, nine at Frederick High School, six at LaunchED Virtual Academy, one at Longmont High School, one at Longs Peak Middle School, one at Mead High School, two at Northridge Elementary School, five at Silver Creek High School, three at Skyline High School, three at Thunder Valley PK-8 and one at Trail Ridge Middle School.

Among staff, Blue Mountain Elementary, Coal Ridge Middle School, Innovation Center, LaunchED Virtual Academy, Longmont High School, Rocky Mountain Elementary School and Timberline PK-8 all have one active case.