Approximately 140 community members attended the city’s sixth virtual COVID-19 Community Briefing on Thursday Oct. 29 to hear updates and ask questions of panelists, including Charles Ferro from the city of Boulder’s recovery team; Jeff Zayach, Director of BCPH; Jennifer McDuffie, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Randy Barber, BVSD’s Chief Communications Officer, and from Mental Health Partners’ Emma.
- Jeff Zayach reviewed the statewide COVID dial, explaining that the state is creeping closer to having to move back to the Safer At Home level 3 due to the significant increase in cases across all age groups as well as an increase in the number of hospitalizations. As we move into colder weather the challenges will be greater, including the temptation to have gatherings around the holidays and the beginning of flu season. He called upon everyone to remain diligent in compliance, reminding that it is individual behaviors that drive outcomes for us all. He specifically asked CU students to not have parties on the Hill as has happened recently, noting that the city and county will continue to follow up and enforce on noncompliance.
- Charles Ferro addressed ongoing enforcement measures by Boulder Police and the city’s recent two-week stay at home orders issued to residents in nine residences on the Hill, all affiliated SAE or Kappa Sigma fraternities. They will not tolerate large gatherings and will not hesitate to issue further stay at home orders if necessary.
- The representative from Mental Health Partners discussed the resources available to support community members, including outreach and response team program, access to clinical care and trainings. Noting that COVID 19 has taken a staggering toll on mental health in the U.S., Emma Messett discussed the grant-funded Colorado Spirit Crisis Counseling Program that supports their outreach in Boulder and Broomfield. They can assist community members in accessing resources for behavioral and physical health, housing, food, caregiving and other support. They also assist with coping strategies to reduce stress, anxiety and other mental health issues related to the pandemic. Aassistance comes with no cost, no formal registration process, no identifying documentation requirements and individuals can remain as anonymous as they’d like. Connect via the ‘warmline’ at 303-545-0852 to speak to a person, or check the Facebook Group “Broomfield & Boulder County Community Outreach” for self-care tips, coping strategies and partner agency updates.
- Jennifer McDuffie noted that the pandemic is layering on to existing mental health issues for college aged students who experience loneliness and report feeling moderate or high levels of stress, increasing the number of students utilizing services related to anxiety, stress and loneliness as well as increased severity and crisis. CU has expanded its offerings, including drop in and expanded skill based groups and workshops to help cope with trauma, stress, anxiety and other issues. CU Boulder’s leadership has prioritized health and wellness, including by recently committing an additional $1.8 million dollars to expand student mental health and wellness services. This funding will be used to embed clinical services in the colleges and schools, enhancing services and support for our students of color and allow us to continue to meet emergent needs of our students. For more information about services and support, visit colorado.edu/health. Ms. McDuffie also remarked that while Halloween is often a time for CU students to come together to celebrate, campus is providing a wide variety of fun and safe programs and alternatives to partying and students are encouraged to only engage in small, safe gatherings.
- Randy Barber’s information included that the last wave of BVSD students have returned to school and the district’s goal of keeping their schools open in order to continue the array of services beyond education that are provided. Increased COVID cases in the community do impact the schools, but there has not been significant spread in their schools. Their focus is to help the district to stay together, and they are asking people to celebrate Halloween safely, take care of themselves and limit their interactions outside their household