The chances of encountering someone with COVID-19 in Colorado remain high, but there are early signs in the state that the situation may be changing.
Hospitalizations, positivity rates and cases declined in the week ending Sunday. While the number of contagious people in the state remains high, the wave may have peaked, said Beth Carlton, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the Colorado School of Public Health.
“The numbers are much more encouraging this week,” she said.
Colorado could have a relatively calm summer, Carlton said, as the recent spate of infections will provide some protection for the next few months. Or the lull may be brief as options BA.4 and BA.5 become dominant. Much remains unknown about how good the BA.2.12.1 infection is, which is currently the most common variant in Colorado. protects against two ascending variantsshe said.
“In general, people who have had a recent infection are more protected,” she said. “Probably in the last few months, we’ve wiped out a large portion of the receptive population of Colorado.”
The most recent data from June 5 shows that BA.4 and BA.5 were found in almost 35% of the virus samples sequenced in Colorado. BA.2.12.1 was found in just over half of the cases.
It’s unclear what role vaccinations for children under 5 years of age will play in reducing the number of susceptible people, Carlton said.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 fell to 304 on Tuesday from 323 a week earlier, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment. For the first time since mid-April, the number of people being treated for COVID-19 has dropped.
The percentage of positive test results also dropped to around 11.2%. This is down from about 12.7% two weeks ago, but still high enough to suggest that a large number of infections could go undetected.
The number of cases has dropped for the first time since the end of March, Carlton said, though those numbers are still the shakiest because so many people don’t report their home tests. The state reported 12,820 cases in the week ending Sunday, down 23% from the previous week but still about six times the level seen at its low point earlier this spring.
Outbreaks were an exception and rose to 575 in the eighth week. Most of the increase was in correctional facilities, nursing homes and nursing homes.
Mortality has not begun to decline, but it usually lags hospitalizations by at least two weeks. In the first week of June, the state reported 53 COVID-19 deaths, the highest weekly total in three months. Data for recent weeks is still incomplete due to delays in reporting.
High vaccination rates and, to a lesser extent, immunity from prior infections have kept the death toll from rising nearly as sharply as infections, Carlton said. In total, there are about 314 people in the country. die from COVID-19 every day – which is somewhat higher than average daily death rate from diabetes – but nowhere are there such losses that would have been if so many people had been infected at the beginning of 2020.
Wearing masks indoors is a good idea for now, Carlton said, as the virus is still widespread. As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considered 24 of Colorado’s 64 counties to be at high risk based on their cases and hospitalizations.
“Just because the situation is getting worse doesn’t mean the risk is automatically reduced to zero,” she said.