CU Boulder accounts for 62% of state’s college and university COVID-19 infections


DENVER (KDVR) – The COVID-19 outbreak at the University of Colorado Boulder now accounts for the majority of all college-borne infections in the state and one of the highest infection rates in its athletic division.

Nationally, researchers have linked universities to an additional 3,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, skewing county and state data in the process. According to a USA Today analysis, 19 of the 25 most infected U.S. counties have colleges in them.

That analysis is now two weeks old. Numbers, especially in Colorado, have grown since then.

Most Colorado four-year colleges and universities share their ongoing COVID-19 testing results for community awareness and student health. Together, the four-year colleges with publicly available numbers have tracked 1,922 infections from on-campus and off-campus testing for both students and faulty.

CU Boulder’s COVID-19 dashboard shows a slowdown in on-campus tests that have been positive for the novel coronavirus, but state data released yesterday tracked 1,198 cases from the school’s outbreak – 62% of the total from colleges.

Most college infections have come from only a few universities. The state’s most prominent schools – CU Boulder, Colorado State University, and the University of Denver – together have produced 87% of counted college-borne infections.

A spate of recent outbreaks from the state’s universities has prompted reactions from both school and civic officials. CU Boulder has reverted to distance learning and severely restricted student behavior, while the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment has called a public health order to get outbreaks under control.

College and university outbreaks have ushered a new wave of infections across the country as school semesters began in late August and early September. Inside Higher Ed has tracked dozens of campuses that reopened only to suspend in-class learning or recommend campus-wide quarantines.

CU Boulder has the third-highest number of infections in its athletic division, the Pac-12 Conference.

At 1,200 infection, CU has produced six times as many infections as the average of the next seven schools.

College caseloads have affected national COVID-19 trends. Counties with colleges have seen spikes in their totals.

Last Friday, the University of Arizona asked students to shelter in place for two weeks after a virus spike brought the Tucson university’s cases up to 2,030 – the highest case number in the PAC-12. The University of Arizona COVID-19 caseload made up 85% of the Pima County total. 

Boulder County’s numbers have not approached the heavy Pima County percentage, but its share of student infections is relatively high.

Of the county’s 4,145 cases, 29% have come from the CU Boulder outbreak.

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