COVID-19 hospitalizations in Colorado have remained essentially steady, even as cases have risen in recent weeks, perhaps indicating that most people at highest risk of serious illness have been vaccinated.
New cases in Colorado rose nearly 25% over the past week, with 3,184 recorded in the week ending Sunday. This was the fourth week of increases, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, although the increase was more modest in previous weeks. The percentage of tests coming back positive was also up slightly, though still below the state’s target of 5%.
New hospital admissions related to the virus were down slightly compared to the previous week, but the total number of people seeking hospital care was essentially unchanged. As of Monday afternoon, 318 people had been hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
Beth Carlton, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the Colorado School of Public Health, said during the pandemic, hospitalizations began to rise about a week after.
It’s possible they have “decoupled” because most of the older population has been vaccinated, though this would still be related to seeing increasing cases in the younger population, she said.
“It’s a ‘don’t panic, but get vaccinated’ moment,” she said.
About 80% of Colorado residents 65 and older are fully vaccinated. The percentage is lower for younger age groups, with 62% of all eligible people — all ages 12 and older — completing their vaccine sequence.
Despite the spurt in cases, Colorado is not one of the country’s hotspots. The state has about seven cases per 100,000 people, while Arkansas, Missouri and Florida have more than 30 cases for the same population size, According to the New York Times data tracker.
The number of people hospitalized is about a fifth in Nevada compared to the population in Colorado, which is currently the hardest-hit state. Unlike in recent weeks, all Colorado counties reported that hospitalizations or falls in the past two weeks were stable.
Cases were a different story, with substantial variation across the state. Denver had about 40 cases per 100,000 people during the past week, but 11 counties had 100 or more cases for the same population.
The counties with the most cases were:
- for free 316.9 cases per 100,000 people
- Hinsdale: 244.2
- Delta: 243.8
- Rio Blanco: 190.3
- Mesa: 145.9
- Garfield: 141.3
- Archuleta: 135.7
- Route: 124.7
- Las Animas: 124.2
- Alamosa: 123.6
- Summit: 116.2
While vaccination rates are low in most counties with the highest number of cases, Summit County is an exception. It is the fourth most vaccinated county in the state, with approximately 77% of the eligible population completing the shot sequence.
With the exception of Mesa, Routh and Alamosa counties, all counties with high case rates also had positivity rates above the state’s 5% target. The higher the percentage of tests that come back positive, the more likely an area is not getting a significant number of cases.
Other counties with positivity rates above the target were: Clear Creek, Custer, Eagle, Gilpin, Gunnison, Huerfano, Lake, Lincoln, Ore, Saguache, San Miguel and Weld.