Colorado COVID cases and hospitalizations down again
Experts believe Colorado’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations will keep dropping through the summer, though it’s less clear what will happen come fall.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 371 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon. Hospitalizations also finally dropped below the July 2020 summer peak of 412 — a feat that took nearly eight months. (The summer 2020 wave was the smallest of the four Colorado has experienced, with less than a quarter of the hospitalizations at the worst point in December.)
The state reported 2,803 new COVID-19 cases in the week ending Sunday, which was the lowest since mid-September. The percentage of tests coming back positive also hit its low point since the pandemic started, with a 2.41% average positivity over the last week.
Dr. Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, said it appears the state can expect new cases and hospitalizations to keep falling at least for a few months. The “faltering” improvement in the spring was because vaccines ran up against more contagious variants and people took fewer precautions, he said.
“It looks like the vaccines are finally taking over,” he said.
It’s less clear what will happen in the fall as kids return to school and more adults likely resume working in-person, Samet said.
And there’s still room to improve. The state health department reported 256 people were admitted to Colorado hospitals with COVID-19 in the week that ended Sunday. That’s about twice as many were admitted as in the last week of May 2020, when the state set a record low of 124 new hospitalizations.
Colorado has a relatively high vaccination rate, with about 68% of adults receiving at least one dose, according to The New York Times. The nationwide average is 65%. With a few exceptions, counties where the virus continues to circulate more widely are those with lower vaccination rates than the state as a whole.
Hospitalizations are stable or falling in most of the state as of Monday, though they increased in Mesa and Weld counties at least seven days in the last two weeks, according to the state’s dashboard. Both have below-average rates, though Weld’s is significantly higher than Mesa’s.
Case counts also varied significantly across the state, and generally tracked with vaccination rates. Dolores County, where only 38% of adults are vaccinated, had enough cases that it would have been in Level Orange, which would have limited most businesses to 25% capacity, if the state’s dial framework were still in force.
An additional six counties would have been in Level Yellow, which only allowed businesses to be half-full: Delta, Mesa, Moffat, Rio Grande, Saguache and San Miguel. Of those counties, only San Miguel had a higher vaccination rate than the state as a whole.
Some counties also had high rates of positive tests, suggesting they could be missing infections. The positivity rate was above 10% in Lake, San Miguel and Dolores counties; anything above 5% worries experts.
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