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COVID-19 Updates: Changes to State Outbreak Classification, Alert Level Yellow

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University of Denver

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Dear DU community,

The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE), which is leading the disease investigation at the local level and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) have decided to evolve the classification of active outbreaks at the University of Denver, and on other campuses in the state, into a single outbreak per campus. Essentially, going forward, the state's data will aggregate all separate cases into one outbreak per campus (until or unless 28 days pass without a positive case). Currently, only connected cases of 2 or more are reported as "outbreaks" (versus all cases); however, that also results in a high number of separate "outbreaks", even when each is as few as 2 cases. Neither system is perfect. On a campus of our size and across months, the cases in a single outbreak will largely not be connected to each other or resulting from transmission on campus, and most cases that are aggregated across time will be resolved.

The number currently reported on CDPHE's outbreak map represents a combination of all active outbreaks and positive cases at DU since August 17th when students began fall term classes. Positive cases identified before an individual returned to campus would not be included unless they were identified as part of a cluster (for example a team). This change to a single aggregate outbreak from multiple smaller sets of connected cases does not reflect a change in our underlying case count nor impact our contact tracing, case investigations or any other steps DU is taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

DU's Dashboard Contains Clear, Accurate Data

To help our community understand the active case burden at any given time, we will communicate active cases and connected clusters of 5 or more on-campus residents in our connected cases section. For a clear picture of COVID-19’s spread on campus, the most recent data is always available on our dashboard. There, you will find that, in the past week, we have had 48 confirmed new cases on campus, which represents a 2.87 percent positivity rate.

Elevating to Alert Level Yellow

The State of Colorado continues to rise in new daily COVID-19 cases since the Labor Day weekend. A spike over that national holiday was expected, but unlike previous holidays, such as July 4 the daily reported cases continue to rise and as of yesterday equaled the largest peak since mid-April. The State now surpasses the threshold for high/elevated incidence rates crossing 10 new cases on average over seven days per one hundred thousand residents. Moreover, the state cumulative cases over the last 14 days continues to rise and the statewide positivity rate is now above 4%.

The City and County of Denver is also experiencing high counts and has crossed critical thresholds identified in our action plan. The Denver 14-day cumulative rate is now above 230 cases per 100,000 and the City is experiencing a positivity rate of nearly 5%. DU on the other hand is doing well at 2.4% positivity across the past 14 days. In recognition of the case burden in the city and state, and in partnership with our broader community, DU will elevate from alert level green to alert level yellow as we did several weeks ago. You can learn more about what this means here.

As always, DU is committed to providing clear and accurate information, so all of us can stay appraised of the spread of COVID-19 on campus. It takes the effort of every individual to mitigate that spread so we can protect ourselves, protect the community, and continue to enjoy working, learning and living on campus this fall and beyond. #DUYourPart


Sarah Watamura
COVID Coordinator