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Colorado’s COVID-19 hospitalizations up slightly, but numbers show mixed picture

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Colorado’s COVID-19 data was a mixed bag last week, but none of the numbers suggested the situation was improving.

The number of people currently hospitalized with the virus in Colorado increased slightly over the last week, though the number of new admissions was about the same as in the week ending June 27. As of Tuesday afternoon, 330 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 statewide.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 2,404 new cases in the week ending Sunday, which was about 120 more than in the previous week. It was the second week of small increases; the number of new cases rose by about 160 in the last week of June, as late reports came in.

That’s relatively flat, but the percentage of tests coming back positive has started to tick up, suggesting the virus could be spreading more widely, said Beth Carlton, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the Colorado School of Public Health. About 3.4% of tests were positive between Saturday and Monday — not an alarming number, but the highest percentage since the start of June.

“We’re certainly not going down,” she said. “I think the concern is what’s going to happen in the next few days.”

One bright spot is that deaths finally appear to have returned their mid-March levels, with between 30 and 40 people dying of COVID-19 in a week. Their most recent peak was in the second week of May, when 73 people died from the virus. Deaths lag behind cases and hospitalizations, though, so they’re a better picture of what was happening in Colorado about a month ago than of the current situation.

Last year, Colorado’s second wave of infections peaked shortly after July 4, with some people blaming the increase on festivities. This year, vaccinated people could have parties relatively safely, but people who aren’t fully immunized remain at risk, whether they’re gathering to celebrate or returning to work, Carlton said.

Interactions remain riskier in some parts of the state than others. The state modeling group’s June 30 report estimated about one in every 42 people was infectious in the northwest region, which includes Mesa County. In contrast, about one in 200 people in the Denver metro area was believed to be contagious.

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Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are proving quite safe and highly effective in the prevention of COVID-19, especially severe and/or fatal disease.

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