Boulder, CU officials fear COVID spike following off-campus riot

Coronavirus

BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — In the aftermath of what Boulder Police are calling a “mob” Saturday night, city, university and public health officials are now worried about a potential spike in COVID-19 cases stemming from the incident. 

BPD estimates 500 to 800 people, largely thought to be CU Boulder students, gathered for a street-party at 10th and Pennsylvania. Police say over a period of about three hours members of the crowd threw rocks, bricks and glass bottles at police, SWAT and fire personnel and vehicles. The crowd also flipped a private vehicle on its side. 

“To the students who participated in the incident last night: you have embarrassed yourselves and the entire University of Colorado Boulder,” Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said in a letter to students Sunday. 

Aside from violence, assault and property damage, the gathering also violated current public health orders requiring masks, social distancing and prohibiting large gatherings. 

“The disregard of mask wearing, disregard of social distancing and disregard on the limits of personal social gatherings clearly … was in violation of the orders from the state and was unacceptable,” Boulder County Health director Jeff Zayach said.

Boulder County is currently at Level Yellow on the state’s COVID-19 dial. Infections, hospitalizations and deaths have been trending downward.  

“It will reverse the trend just as it did in early September and that’s the last thing we need in our community,” Zayach said. 

While health risks of spreading COVID-19 remain a major concern, Boulder officials also say a spike in cases could force Boulder County businesses to restrict operating capacities.

City, university and public health officials are urging everyone who attended the gathering to quarantine immediately and complete a COVID-19 test on Thursday or Friday. 

“Students will not be punished for completing a monitoring test. Monitoring testing information is not shared with Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution,” DiStefano said. 

However, DiStefano added students caught participating in violence, property damage and not disbursing when ordered by police will face “serious sanctions up to expulsion from CU Boulder without the possibility of readmission, and may also face criminal and civil sanctions from the city and county.”

According to Boulder Public Health, anyone who may have contracted COVID-19 at the gathering would start to yield positive test results in seven to 10 days. It will realistically be about two weeks before data would show a spike, if there is one. 

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