College-aged residents of Boulder can now gather in groups of up to 6 under relaxed COVID-19 rules – The Denver Post

Boulder residents aged 18 to 22 can gather in groups of up to six people — an increase from just two — after Boulder County amended its COVID-19 public health order restricting gathering sizes Tuesday.

Groups of up to six 18-to-22-year-olds can now visit businesses including restaurants and shops as long as physical distancing, masking and gathering limits are followed, according to an update from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Boulder County health officials last month had prohibited all gatherings of any size among that age group due to a surge in coronavirus cases, but later acknowledged safety concerns and changed their order to allow for up to two people to be together at a time.

The newly amended public health order also allows for CU-sponsored in-person events. These events would be planned and hosted by CU Boulder departments or units and approved by administration. The university is working with Boulder County Public Health and students to develop what these events could look like, but a previous example provided by the health agency was an outdoor movie night hosted on a university field.

Fraternities, sororities and other off-campus homes where more than five college students live must still follow the public health order for gatherings of no more than six people. The collegiate group homes under stricter stay-at-home orders still have to comply with their orders and turn in their mitigation plans.

“This increase to gatherings of up to six people for 18-to-22-year-olds in Boulder is possible because of the improvements in metrics Boulder County Public Health has tracked,” the university’s statement read.

One metric reviewed to make this decision, the 14-day cumulative new cases per 100,000 (among individuals aged 18 to 22 in Boulder County) dropped to 470.5. The second metric, test positivity percentage, also declined to 6.2%, according to Boulder County Public Health.

As of Monday, the university reports more than 1,100 positive cases of COVID-19 confirmed through its testing since classes began in August.

“Thank you to our students for taking action and following the public health orders. Because of the majority of students’ actions to this point, we are getting to move to level A in the current public health order,” the university’s message read. “The limited number of students who have not been following expectations must understand that their actions put their peers at risk.”

As the campus prepares to welcome students back to hybrid in-person and remote learning Wednesday after switching to fully remote learning last month while COVID-19 cases surged, the state is seeing more novel coronavirus hospitalizations than at any point since late May.

As of Monday, 288 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. The last time more patients were receiving hospital-level care for the virus was May 31.

Cases also took a turn upward last week after falling slightly the previous week. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 4,979 cases in the week ending Sunday, which is about 900 cases more than the state saw during the single-biggest week of the July surge.

Colorado public health officials placed initial blame for soaring cases on college students and identified CU Boulder the largest COVID-19 outbreak in the state.

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