Colorado’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have reached levels last seen in early March, and it’s not clear when they may start falling.
Hospital admissions rose about 20% in the last week from 270 on June 7 to 323 on Tuesday. About 89% of intensive care unit beds and 91% of general hospital beds were full as of Tuesday, although most were being used by people hospitalized for something other than COVID-19.
It’s likely that the number of recorded hospitalizations would be higher if the facilities continued to test every patient who came in, as they did this time last year, said Beth Carlton, an associate professor of environmental and occupational medicine at Colorado School of Public Health.
While they’re still capturing people hospitalized primarily for the virus, they may be missing people who would have previously been identified as patients with the virus and those in the “grey area” where infection may have exacerbated an underlying condition , she said .
The number of deaths has also increased, with 46 reported in the first week of June. That’s the highest weekly total since early March and may increase if late reports roll in.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 16,566 new cases in the week ended Sunday, a 14% increase from the previous week. Cases appeared to be slightly lower for the first few days of this week, but it’s not clear if that’s a real drop or the result of a backlog.
The percentage of positive tests has fallen to an average of 11.9% over the past seven days compared to the previous week. In general, anything over 5% raises concerns about missed cases.
A shift towards home testing has reduced case numbers as many people are unaware they can report their tests and others choose not to or give up mid-process. Home testing can also slightly increase the positivity rate since almost nobody reports their negative results.
Colorado’s COVID-19 outbreaks rose again to 557 on Wednesday, from 544 a week earlier. Decreases in school dropouts partially offset increases in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, correctional facilities and child care centers.
It’s not entirely clear where the numbers are headed, but for now the virus remains prevalent in Colorado, Carlton said. People should wear masks in indoor public spaces, particularly in the Denver area and others where transmission has been particularly high, she said.
“All the information points to a high level of infection,” she said.
As of Wednesday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified 14 counties in Colorado as high risk: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, La Plata, Mesa, Ouray, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, San Juan and San Miguel.
These counties had at least 200 cases per 100,000 population in the past week and either had at least 10 new hospitalizations per 100,000 population in the past week or reported that 10% of their hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients.
According to the CDC, about 10% of counties nationwide are at the high risk level. Overall, cases and hospitalizations have plateaued in recent days, with declines in the north-east offsetting rises in the south and west.
There’s hope that Colorado’s trajectory may soon peak based on how the virus has behaved in East Coast states, which saw a surge earlier this spring, Carlton said. That’s not certain, however, since those states are primarily looking at the BA.2.12.1 variant, while BA.4 and BA.5 are gaining ground in Colorado, she said.
As of the last week of May, BA.2.12.1 accounted for approximately 60% of samples sequenced in Colorado, down from 66% the previous week. BA.4 and BA.5 together accounted for 16% of the samples versus 10%.
It appears that the BA.4 and BA.5 are slightly better at evading the immune system than previous versions of Omicron, but how much better remains unclear, Carlton said. Still, given the high level of community spread and the possibility of catching the virus again soon after recovery, it’s a good idea to keep up to date on boosters and other precautionary measures, she said.
“The more layers of protection people can add, the less likely their lives will be disrupted by COVID-19,” she said.
https://www.greeleytribune.com/2022/06/16/colorado-covid-hospitalizations-deaths-cases/ Colorado’s COVID hospitalizations and deaths back to March levels – Greeley Tribune