COVID-19 infections appear to be spreading somewhat more widely in Colorado, but that hasn’t translated into large numbers of people becoming severely ill.
The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations rose slightly this week, to 192 on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. That was higher than the same time last week, when 182 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, but lower than two weeks ago, when 202 were.
“We’re sort of at a steady, manageable level for the moment,” said Dr. Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health.
Last year, hospitalizations hit their pandemic low in mid-April, with only 77 people receiving care for the virus at one point. It’s possible the same thing will happen this year as the weather warms and people start moving their gatherings outdoors, but it’s difficult to be certain, Samet said.
Colorado’s increase in infections coincides with the immune-evasive XBB.1.5 variant taking over. About three-quarters of cases nationwide and 61% in the region including Colorado were caused by XBB.1.5, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nationwide, hospitalizations are still falling slowly, though they rose over the last two weeks in Montana and the Dakotas, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
This week in Colorado:
- 10.5% of tests came back positive over the last seven days, up from 10% a week earlier
- 3,278 new cases were reported in the week ending Sunday, up from 2,705 the previous week
- Virus concentrations in wastewater were rising in 24 utilities, falling in 13 and steady in 29. Last week, they are rising in 13, falling in 32 and stable in 20.
- Four counties in Colorado were at medium risk, based on cases and hospitalizations: Baca, Chaffee, Lake and Mineral. The rest were at low risk. Last week, nine were at medium risk.
- 36 counties had “substantial” or “high” transmission, based on cases and the positivity rate. Last week, 38 did.
For some other viruses, the news was clearly good. Only three children were reported as hospitalized in the Denver area with respiratory syncytial virus last week, which would be the lowest number since May. It’s possible the number of flu and RSV hospitalizations could rise as delayed reports come in, but the overall downward trajectory is clear.
Flu hospitalizations were at their lowest level since the week of Oct. 2, with six reported last week. The CDC reported flu activity was low in Colorado and most of the rest of the country, with the exception of six states and the District of Columbia. The percentage of outpatient visits for flu-like illness remained roughly flat, just above the threshold that makes the beginning and end of the flu season.
It’s possible that a different flu strain could cause a second wave before the end of the season, but so far there’s no sign of that happening, Samet said.
“It’s too early to say” if the flu is done, he said.
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