COLORADO SPRINGS | Some health officials in Colorado have warned that continued high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations point to the pandemic not being over yet despite the state’s average infection rate decreasing by nearly a third since April.
Colorado was averaging 1,731 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases each day in late April — the most since Jan. 19 — but the numbers fell nearly every day since then, The Gazette reported Monday. The state now averages 1,182 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past week, health officials said.
“Colorado is heading in a positive direction again, and vaccination coverage is almost certainly playing a key role in this decline,” said Glen Mays, chair of the Colorado School of Public Health’s department of health systems.
But Elizabeth Carlton, who also works for the department, said there are more worrying metrics, including state hospitalizations. Carlton said the state was averaging about 100 new hospital admissions from COVID-19 daily since April 28, but that figure has risen to more than 650 as of Monday.
Carlton said the metric means the “the number of people developing severe COVID-19 in Colorado doesn’t appear to be declining right now.”
Jon Samet, the dean of the public health school, echoed her concern and told The Gazette on Monday that the state will hopefully see a drop in hospitalizations over the next few weeks.
Carlton and Mays gave some credit to the vaccines, saying the situation would be “far worse” without it.
Some researchers said infection control efforts have fallen and the time people have spent away from home is increasing, meaning the current figures and trends could continue.
Carlton said the state is at a “critical point in terms of vaccinations,” especially after federal regulators announced people ages 12 to 15 are now eligible to be vaccinated.
“The bad news is that vaccine demand in adults has slowed,” she said. “If Colorado can achieve high levels of vaccination across all eligible age groups, then we should see hospitalizations and infections decline in the weeks ahead.”