The University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University both reopened for in-person instruction during recent weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite the best efforts of both administrations, cases of the novel coronavirus are mounting. The combined number of positive tests at the institutions has surpassed 200 and continues to rise.
The cumulative total for infections at CU Boulder through September 4, the most recent date available, is 103. As of September 7, the number of CSU students, faculty members and staffers who've contracted the disease is calculated at 118.
The data is being shared on separate COVID-19 dashboards maintained by CU Boulder and CSU — a welcome example of transparency that gives students, employees, parents and guardians a better sense of how the virus is progressing on Colorado's two largest campuses; enrollment at each has regularly topped 30,000 in recent years.
CU Boulder and CSU have rigorous safety protocols in place, yet challenges arose even before students returned to classrooms for the fall semester. In July, the entire CSU athletic program and a frat house were identified as outbreaks by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the following month, an athletic training program at CU Boulder earned the same designation. (The Mountain West conference, of which CSU is a member, and the Pac-12, encompassing CU Boulder, have both delayed football seasons until 2021 at the earliest.) Shortly thereafter, more than a dozen COVID-19 cases were found after a monitor placed in the CU Boulder sewage system flagged four dormitories. And five Boulder fraternities have been fined for throwing unauthorized parties said to be free of proper masking and social distancing.
According to CU Boulder data, 7,898 COVID-19 monitoring tests were performed through September 4, including 5,268 during the week of August 31.
Up through August 31, the stats show that 23 tests came back positive — but the numbers rose rapidly the next week, owing to the batch of cases associated with that quartet of dorms. Here's the five-day CU Boulder breakdown between August 31 and September 4:
August 31 — 2 positive tests
September 1 — 1 positive test
September 2 — 21 positive tests
September 3 — 17 positive tests
September 4 — 49 positive tests
As of September 4, fifteen so-called on-campus "isolation spaces" were being used for individuals with COVID-19 out of 249 available.
CSU presents its main COVID-19 figures in a graph format that shows dips and dives over time. Here are the specifics for the most recent ten-day period available, with infection information offered for faculty and staff as well as students.
September 6 — 1 student, 0 faculty and staff
September 5 — 8 students, 0 faculty and staff
September 4 — 3 students, 0 faculty and staff
September 3 — 0 students, 0 faculty and staff
September 2 — 3 students, 0 faculty and staff
September 1 — 1 student, 0 faculty and staff
August 31 — 2 student, 0 faculty and staff
August 30 — 1 student, 1 faculty and staff
August 29 — 2 students, 0 faculty and staff
August 28 — 2 students, 2 faculty and staff
"Numbers reflect positive test results associated with faculty, staff and students as compiled by CSU Public Health, Larimer County public health, and private physicians, and do not necessarily reflect individuals who have or have not been on university grounds," the CSU page notes. "The results are shown for the date that a test is collected. In some cases, there may be a delay in counting positive test results, causing the data for dates in the past to change."
CSU then adds: "Anyone who has been in close contact with an individual who tests positive or is believed to have COVID-19 is contacted by a public health official and given direction about how to address exposure and illness."
Plenty of these outreach efforts are now being made, and if past is prelude, contact tracers at CU Boulder and CSU are likely to be busy for some time to come.
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