Howdy from the central time zone, #Boulder. It's city council night and, oh boy, it's a big one.
We've got the budget. We've got the lobbying agenda. We've got our monthly COVID briefing from health officials (plus an update on what's happening at CU). We're talking winter outdoor dining, when council might return to in-person meeting, and more.
LOL the pre-meeting council banter tonight is A+
Apparently Mayor Weaver is absent tonight. Yates leading the meeting.
I feel like Weaver has missed more meetings this year than usual. He's been on since I started covering and I don't recall frequent absences in past years.
I don't have a presentation from Jeff Zayach, BoCo Public Health, like I usually do. For some reason.
Zayach: Def seeing some "positive data trends." ... Last time we did a briefing, we were in the middle of what would become a significant outbreak.
Avg new daily cases (20.8) seems pretty high still, but def down from a week or two ago.
Boulder had a HUGE spike among CU students, Zayach says. The largest outbreak in the state.

We're in the decline now, he says, close to pre-fall semester numbers.
"We are seeing spread throughout the state" across age groups, Zayach says, due to "lower social distancing"
Nice graph which breaks out CU cases
(Light blue)
Zayach: I appreciate that students are taking this really seriously, and the data reflects that.
5-day avg of new cases in BoCo: About 20, way down from the recent high of ~160
Zayach: Looking at age data, 18-22 y.o. driving the recent surge, and breaking that down into CU vs. non-CU, it was "absolutely" CU students.
Can we just take a moment and think what this guy's life has been like for most of this year? The stress, the work. Holy crap. Shoutout to public health officials.
Maybe he'll do a wrap interview with me when it's all over.
Or maybe he'll just retire.
5-day rolling average of positive tests: just under 3%
That's pretty good. We want to be under 5%. We were up near 7% during the recent surge.
Zayach: "Positivity rate is consistently coming down. That's exactly what we want to see."
Don't know when, but in the breakdown of cases per municipality in BoCo, they added a category for unhoused residents. 7 total cases so far, which is remarkably low.
Oh, hey, I just got a copy of Zayach's presentation:…
Looks like no deaths of anyone under 50 years old in BoCo, per slide 12
Hospitalizations are climbing back up, though.
Zayach: "We are still stable. We are not at risk of capacity issues with our hospitals."
Similar trend across the state, which has some officials worried.
Zayach: 20-30% of recent hospitalizations are in the 70+ y.o. category (again, statewide) "That is not good news. ... We are going to see more acute and severe outcomes in that population."
We are not social distancing enough, Colorado. So says Zayach and the data. The trend of lower social distancing tracks with higher hospitalizations. (Slide 15)
"We're just seeing more people who are gathering," Zayach says. "We need to make sure (social distancing) picks back up. ... We've done such a great job, we've kept our numbers low and we want to keep them low."
We're not going to be able to move from "Safer At Home" into the next phase (Protect Our Neighbors) if we don't social distance.
Three things we need for that: Declining cases (75-175 cases per 100K over 2 weeks) no greater than 10% positive cases and declining hospitalizations.
Oh, crap, sorry, that was for Safer At Home, where we are now.

We NEED 0-75 cases per 100K per 2 weeks, positive tests less than 5% AND stable/declining hospitalizations
This level includes restrictions on biz, for example, Zayach says, just one example of how it impacts the community. "It has social impacts, behavioral health impacts, including substance abuse and mental health impacts."
So we need to do better.
We're heading in that direction, except for hospitalizations, which always trail an outbreak. (It takes awhile for people to get THAT sick, sometimes.)
Zayach: The 10 p.m. last call is an important strategy for stopping the spread of COVID
"We know the fall is going to be a challenge," Zayach says. "We are already seeing decreased social distancing; we are moving into flu season; we are heading into the holidays."
Zayach: "This disease can't spread if we maintain that 6 feet." We have to limit gatherings, make sure we're masking during those gatherings.
"As we go into these holiday seasons, it's going to be important for us to stay diligent," he says.
Swetlik: Where did CU cases come from? Super-spreader events? Or a bunch of people making a bunch of contact?
Zayach: The majority of these cases are coming from large gatherings. But unsure if that's super-spreaders and, if so, how many.
"Very little spread on campus among classes," Zayach says. Cases on-campus are "primarily being brought" from parties and gatherings off-campus.
Swetlik: Our Latinx community is still suffering disproportionately. But CU is majority white, so why didn't we see those numbers shift?
Zayach: The data is recent. "There definitely was" an issue between the two data systems used, but this week, we resolved that.
Drive-through testing site staying open through Oct. 18
Friend and her family used that recently, then says she was "surprised" by the contact tracing: They didn't get any calls. Is that as robust as we'd want it to be?
Zayach: It's based on type of exposure, length of time of exposure, close contact with positive case
Every person who was in close contact (6 ft.) of someone with COVID is supposed to have some followup, Zayach says.
Friend: It made me nervous that I didn't see followup where I thought I would.
Oh, snap.
Friend: Who is being counted as a COVID death? What if it's months later?
Zayach: I'll look into that.
Friend: What's our current gathering limit for non 18-22 y.o.
Zayach: I think 10..? But go to the COVID website and check.
Friend: Any change in the advice about being outside? We've still had just that 1 outdoor transmission at a yoga class? (They were closer than 6 ft)
Zayach: I'm not sure, but I will say that it's still much safer to be outside.
Yates cuts in to stop Friend's questioning. We're over time and have 5.5 hrs of meeting left. Moves to other council members with qs.
Brockett: Now that the walk-up testing site is closed, what are the options for ppl who don't drive?
Zayach: It's not going to be free or as easy, but you can check…
Moving onto CU update
Patrick O'Rourke: "We've really seen a change in behavior."
Last weekend, no referrals from police for health code violations.
"We're also seeing a downward trend in our positivity rate," O'Rourke says. And surveillance testing is trending down, "consistently at 2% and lower" over the past 2 weeks.
"We're actually breaking the chain of infection," O'Rourke says.
Don't view CU students as the enemy, O'Rourke says. "COVID is the common enemy."
We were trying to rely on educational intervention, O'Rourke says, but it wasn't working. So we moved to enforcement, issuing interim suspensions.

27 interim student suspensions, 60+ on probation
Many of those are still being decided, O'Rourke says, bc there's a process.

But the enforcement worked. We saw fewer gatherings.
O'Rourke: "We're still not aware of any cases that are related to classroom infection."
We really need to keep focusing on off-campus behaviors, O'Rourke says.
"We did a really good job thinking about the physical environment," O'Rourke says. "What we didn't do as good of a job of is how we can incentivize and create the right type of behavioral expectations."
"If we create the right physical environment but haven't dealt with the human factors ... we're at risk again."
Kissing Brautigam's butt before she retires this month.
She's going to end her tenure without having to speak to me one time. Except the time we met when she said she wouldn't speak with the press, and to go through the city spokesperson.
I should have pushed back on that, but I was young and naive.
And it became a bad habit.
O'Rourke was kissing her butt, to be clear.
Or, you know, expressing appreciation for someone he worked with a lot these last few weeks. If you want that translated into non-snark.
Swetlik q about sports.
No fans, O'Rourke says.
That's all for these public health briefings. We'll get another November 10.

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