DENVER | Colorado’s COVID-19 cases are on a downward trajectory after an increase over the holiday season, but an estimated one in 115 Coloradans are still contagious with the virus.
At a Tuesday news conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said that Colorado’s case counts have been declining for two weeks and that the state currently has the 11th lowest rate of COVID-19. Colorado also has a much lower hospitalization rate than the U.S. average.
There were 1,158 new cases identified Tuesday, and 674 Coloradans are currently hospitalized with the virus.
Herlihy addressed the new UK variant of COVID-19, which has been identified 10 times in Colorado. There is some data that the new strain causes more severe symptoms but that data is very limited, she said. There is no evidence that vaccines are less effective against the new strain.
Colorado is currently at 78% transmission control of the virus, she said. If the state is able to maintain that level — which depends on people continuing to wear masks and social distance — that will allow the vaccine to be kept under control while herd immunity sets in.
“If we’re able to stay where we are right now at 78% that’s really our best chance at minimizing the number of deaths that occur,” she said.
A high level of transmission control will also help limit the impact that the new variant could have on the state.
As of yesterday Colorado had distributed 458,000 vaccine doses, Gov. Jared Polis said. Phase 1A is 85% complete and 97% of skilled nursing facility residents and staff members have received at least a first dose.
The state is now focusing most of its attention on vaccinating people who are 70 and up, with a goal of vaccinating 70% of that population by the end of February. If you are in that age group and have signed up to get vaccinated but have not yet been contacted, you will probably be contacted within one or two weeks, Polis said.
He asked people to be patient in the meantime and continue to take common-sense precautions.
“We’re in mile 23 of the marathon, we just have to make sure to finish it strong,” he said.