Coronavirus Outbreak In Boulder Linked To Protest March, Parties

Amber Fisher

BOULDER, CO — Boulder County Public Health is seeking people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus at recent parties or a protest march. Seventeen Boulder residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past three days, health officials said.

Many of the residents reported attending parties in the Hill neighborhood between May 25 and June 4, and a protest march in Boulder on June 5, health officials said. Some of those who were recently diagnosed with the virus reported ill household members and recent travel.

"Anyone who may have attended a party in the Hill neighborhood or the protest march in Boulder on these dates or believes they may have been within six feet for 10 minutes or more with someone who has COVID-19, is urged to immediately quarantine for 14 days since the last exposure, monitor for symptoms, and get tested for COVID-19," Boulder County Public Health said in a news release.

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CU Boulder students who may have been exposed can be tested by the Boulder Medical Services by calling 303-492-5101. Residents can also contact their own health care provider to arrange testing, or contact an independent testing site. Free testing is also available at the City of Denver drive-up testing site at the Pepsi Center.

“It’s so important that anyone who was at these events take these steps to stop the spread to others,” said Carol Helwig, Boulder County Public Health Communicable Disease Control program manager.

“This is exactly how the virus quickly gets out of control. Anyone who had a known exposure at one of these events should quarantine for 14 days following the exposure to avoid spreading illness to others in our community.”

People who were exposed should seek testing as soon as symptoms develop, health officials said. Anyone who may have been exposed but does not yet have symptoms should consider testing approximately 7 days after exposure, which may detect pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic infections.

House parties with more than 10 people who do not share a household are prohibited by the statewide Public Health Order 20-28, also known as “Safer at Home in the Vast, Great Outdoors.” Non-household members are required to maintain six feet distance from each other at all times.

Boulder County Public Health and the city will be working to increase monitoring and enforcement in the Hill area, including pursuing civil action against those who host an unauthorized gathering. Anyone who witnesses a large gathering of non-household members is encouraged to contact City of Boulder dispatch while the event is occurring by calling 303-441-3333.

“This behavior demonstrates disregard for the larger community that has worked so hard to control this virus,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director.

“It’s not just that this sort of gathering is a violation, but that it impacts everyone else – from the deadly risk of transmission to our older residents and people with health conditions, to the ability to keep businesses open.”

Each of the people who tested positive are in their late teens and twenties. In Boulder County, the greatest number of cases have continued to be among the 20-29 age group. While illness among people of this age is generally mild, many who have become ill from COVID-19 describe a painful and long illness and recovery.

“Young people likely understand the risks to themselves, and perhaps accept the risks. But, even if you don’t know an older person or anyone with a serious health condition, one could unknowingly put neighbors, co-workers, front-line workers, and other vulnerable people in our community in danger,” said Helwig.

Current data suggests person-to-person transmission most commonly happens during close exposure (e.g. within six feet) to a person infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, primarily via respiratory droplets produced when the infected person speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Droplets can land in the mouth, nose, or eyes or possibly be inhaled into the lungs of those within close proximity. Transmission can also happen by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.

This article originally appeared on the Boulder Patch