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COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations are still dropping. Can Colorado keep it up until enough are vaccinated? – The Denver Post

By

Feb 23, 2021

New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to fall in Colorado, suggesting the state might get out of the pandemic without another wave of death if people can keep up precautions for a little longer.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 433 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon. New cases were at the lowest level since the first week of October, with 6,227 recorded in the week ending Sunday.

Public health experts have likened the situation to an old-fashioned scale, with vaccinations and precautions like wearing masks on one side, and more-contagious versions of the virus on the other.

Nobody really knows how widespread the new variants are in Colorado, but the fact that cases are continuing to go down suggests that other factors are outweighing them, at least for now, said Dr. Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. The state health department has confirmed 86 cases of COVID-19 caused by more-contagious variants.

“The good news is that the curve is still going down,” he said. “I think we can probably give a lot of credit to Coloradans.”

The state’s dial framework changed on Feb. 6, and so far increasing capacity in businesses hasn’t caused more transmission statewide. That still could change, and the virus has been spreading more widely in some mountain towns.

“Overall, we are continuing to do OK,” Samet said. “We have to hold steady with the measures everyone is tired of.”

As of Monday afternoon, the state reported 412,839 people had received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 388,490 had received both shots. The pace of vaccinations slowed down last week, perhaps because some sites shut down due to extreme cold.

The vast majority of doses have gone into arms at sites along the Front Range, but some tiny counties are leading after adjusting for population. San Juan County, which had a population of 728 as of the latest census estimates, has given out 501 shots, or about 69 for every 100 people. It’s possible that not all of those people were county residents, however.

On the Front Range, the rates look less impressive. Broomfield County is leading, with 26 shots administered for every 100 people, and Jefferson County isn’t far behind, with about 24 per 100 people.

Denver has administered about 21 shots per 100 people. El Paso and Adams counties are bringing up the rear on the Front Range, with about 16 shots per 100 people.

Counties with fewer people over 65 are bound to lag behind those with older populations, since fewer people are eligible. Rural areas also may have more residents who are eligible because of their jobs, since hospitals and school districts are often major employers in small communities.

Since March, 421,294 people in Colorado have tested positive for the virus, and 23,183 have been hospitalized. The state has reported 5,893 coronavirus-related deaths.

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