CSU reaffirms no current or past large COVID-19 outbreaks

Responding to a news story that appeared in the Denver Post on Oct. 7, Colorado State University reaffirmed on the university’s COVID-19 site that CSU does not currently have a new, single COVID-19 outbreak of 375 students, and has never had an outbreak of that size.

At this time, the university’s cumulative COVID-19 case number since May 2020 is 468. This reflects students who live on and off campus, as well as faculty and staff, and includes tests administered by CSU and from all other known sources reported, including county testing sites, private physicians and pharmacies. This also includes individuals who work or study at CSU but who are doing so remotely and have not been on any campus.

The inaccurate information reported appears to be the result of a change that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment made this week to the way cases are reported since the beginning of the pandemic. This change makes CSU cases appear differently than previously reported in the state system. The university and the Larimer County Public Health Department are working with the state to correct these numbers.

“Colorado State University has invested in a comprehensive strategy to address the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and the case numbers we transparently report on our dashboard clearly tell the story of our university’s commitment to mitigating the spread of the virus,” said President Joyce McConnell. “We have been and will continue to be committed to doing everything we can to keep our university and larger community healthy. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and I am immensely proud of our students, faculty and staff for their incredibly hard work.”

Larimer County Department of Health and Environment is working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to update the classification of active outbreaks and individual cases at CSU.

The number currently reported on CDPHE’s outbreak report represents a combination of all active outbreaks and positive cases affiliated with the University since Aug. 24 when students started classes, according to a statement from LCDHE. This includes the most recently reported outbreaks among athletics and Greek life. CSU and LCDHE are currently analyzing the number of COVID cases known to the University.

“CSU does not have a new single large outbreak of COVID-19.  The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has combined all single cases and outbreaks affiliated with the University to allow for more efficiency in case investigation and reporting,” says Tom Gonzales, Larimer County Public Health Director.  “CSU, in collaboration with LCDHE, has been effective in suppressing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and will continue to work together to minimize illness in our community.”

The data on the CSU dashboard are an accurate reflection of all known current COVID-19 cases associated with all employees and students. This dashboard is updated continuously.

A summary of CSU’s comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation strategy is below. Complete information about the university’s strategy and plan may be found at covid.colostate.edu.

Testing of students, faculty and staff

  • Between Aug. 17 and Oct. 7, the Pandemic Preparedness Team conducted more than 22,280 tests of students (who live on and off campus), faculty and staff, funded by the university.
  • Of those tests, 261 have been positive.
  • This number does not include positives from other sources, such as county testing sites or private physicians.
  • The total number of positives from all testing sources, including non-university testing sites, is reflected on the dashboard.

Reporting symptoms, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine plans

  • The university requires all students, faculty and staff to report symptoms of CVOID-19 through a daily symptom checker. Via the symptom checker, community members are also asked to report potential exposures and positives tests from sites off campus to expedite the contact tracing process.
  • The university has its own public health office that works closely with county and state public health officials, and shares software with Larimer County. This office connects with students and employees who test positive, develop symptoms, or have potentially been exposed and advises them to isolate or quarantine and assists with county quarantine orders.
  • The university has a isolation and quarantine plan for students who live on campus.

Events and activities

  • All events are canceled through the Fall semester. Visitors to any campus are strongly discouraged and are permissible only when a visit cannot be replaced by a virtual interaction.
  • In addition, the university drastically limited the number of faculty and staff allowed to work on campus this semester; those interested in returning to work on campus this fall had to complete an application and be approved to do so by the Pandemic Preparedness Team.

Education and accountability

The university has communicated extensively about public health requirements on university grounds and expectations off campus. This includes:

  • Social media campaigns, newsletter stories, communications in student media, extensive partnerships with instructors in the classroom, and more than 40,000 signs on campus about public health expectations;
  • A campaign that encourages students to follow public health requirements through peer-to-peer enforcement and education. More information about this campaign may be found on CSU’s COVID Information and Resources site.
  • A training for all faculty and staff about COVID-19, disinfection, and preventing spread;
  • A policy to hold students, faculty and staff accountable to public health expectations;
  • A form on which concerns about public health guidance adherence can be reported.

Physical spaces

  • Pre-measured all academic spaces to ensure appropriate physical distancing in classrooms. This includes approximately 1,000 classrooms on all campuses as well as adding additional spaces as classrooms.
  • Increased ventilation in about 90% of university buildings, including modifying buildings.
  • Placed more than 900 sanitization stations across campus (hand sanitizer and disinfectant).

Additional steps

We have purchased and distributed to students, faculty and staff:

  • 80,000 masks (including disposable, cloth and clear)
  • 1,309 thermometers (oral and forehead)
  • 1,800 gallons of hand sanitizer
  • 660 gallons of sanitizing spray
  • 800,000 sanitizing wipes