By Karen Morfitt

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The Boulder County Health Department is reporting nearly 700 new COVID cases in the past two weeks, and more than 500 of those have been linked to University of Colorado students. The health department is now recommending that all students self-quarantine for two weeks either in their homes or residence halls to help slow the spread.

(credit: CBS)

The City of Boulder is taking that recommendation a step further and ordering a mandatory quarantine for what it calls nuisance properties.

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Students on campus say they have been paying close attention to the numbers.

“The amount that it’s progressing every week is alarming,” one student told CBS4.

Another said, “It definitely surprised me, my initial thought is we were going to get sent home.”

In response to the spike in cases, the university’s chancellor sent out a letter to all students and staff pleading for better compliance of public health restrictions, like avoiding large gatherings.

That alone, the officials say, is playing a significant role in transmission and they have zeroed in on a handful of sororities and fraternities as well as other multi student living facilities off campus on University Hill.

“I think people have a lot of parties. I know rush has been happening,” one student said.

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While certainly a factor, not everyone agrees that students alone are at fault.

“The university clearly knows how students are, they know they are going to want to get together and socialize and to not be prepared, which is really the situation, for the fallout and to blame it on the students I think is really disingenuous on the administration’s part,” Tracy Ferrell said.

(credit: CBS)

Ferrell is an instructor currently teaching in person on the Boulder campus. She is also a member of United Campus workers of Colorado which is now calling on the university to do more than issue warnings.

“The vast majority of cases are coming from off campus and they are not offering testing for off campus students unless they are symptomatic, which means they have to go out in the community,” she said.

Officials say if the spike doesn’t level of soon the impact will be county-wide, and the campus as well as surrounding business may see stricter restrictions put back in place.

Boulder County Public health is now working with the state to bring in additional testing sites. They are encouraging any Boulder County resident who wants to be tested to do so.

LINK: Boulder County COVID-19 testing webpage

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The University says they will adhere to the county quarantine recommendation and will be offering resources to support the quarantine in place, including food, medical as well as mental health support but also plan to add virtual events and programs to support students engaging outside the classroom in a safe way.

Karen Morfitt