Omicron variant present in Colorado but delta still main threat, officials say

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DENVER | Colorado identified two cases of the new omicron variant in the state last week, but the delta variant circulating widely still presents the main risk to Coloradans, Gov. Jared Polis said during a Tuesday news conference. 

“There is a high level of community transmission of the delta variant,” Polis said, emphasizing it being the primary threat to Coloradans.

Currently 1,419 people are hospitalized statewide with COVID-19, about 40 more than last week. Of those, 83% are unvaccinated.

Polis encouraged people to get vaccinated if they haven’t already, and to get a booster shot if they were vaccinated at least six months ago.

Chief epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said that based on the state’s current data, people who have received a booster are 2.4 times less likely to get COVID-19 than people with an initial vaccine does, and 9.7 times less likely than people who are not vaccinated at all.

Regarding the omicron variant, she said that the state is waiting for more data to come in over the next several weeks to determine what makes it different from previous variants and if it is more transmissible.

“At this point we do really need more definitive data and studies,” Herlihy said.

According to current hospitalization rates in South Africa, it does not appear to cause more severe illness than other variants, she said.

Both of the cases identified in Colorado were from people who had recently traveled internationally, she said. Coloradans should keep doing what they have been doing before to protect themselves, including getting vaccinated, getting boosters and wearing masks in indoor spaces.

For information on where to get a vaccine or a booster, go to covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine or call 1-877-CO-VAX-CO. The Tri-County Health Department is hosting a walk-in clinic at the Aurora Municipal Center at 15151 E. Alameda Parkway from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

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