The latest data show that COVID-19 community levels for the state remain low.
Based on the CDC’s weekly metrics for determining community levels, which measure the impact of COVID-19 on the health care system, 64 of the 65 counties in the state have “low” community levels of COVID-19, with only San Juan County designated as medium.
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A series of health emergency executive orders were issued late last year by Governor Jared Polis as COVID-19 cases of delta and omicron variants were climbing and incapacitating local hospitals. Average daily counts for new reported cases surged to an all-time pandemic high of 16,223 on January 15th.
Since then, the daily average has steadily fallen. The average number of daily COVID-19 cases in Colorado registered 1,282 on Wednesday.
Colorado has high rates of vaccination with 79% of its population having received at least one dose and 70% fully vaccinated. 93% of adults 65 years of age and older are fully vaccinated.
Public health officials maintain Colorado is in a good place right now, due to the high number of vaccinated people, the availability of highly effective therapies to treat COVID-19, and health care providers who are now well-versed in caring for those with severe disease. While the BA.2 strain has contributed to a slight increase in cases and deaths over the past two weeks, few severe cases have been reported and officials are closely monitoring the situation.
After ending the state’s health emergency order in February, Governor Jared Polis outlined the “Roadmap to Moving Forward,” the administration’s public health plans for returning to normalcy. The roadmap takes an endemic approach to COVID-19 by improving management in the areas of public health and emergency readiness, by focusing on hospital readiness, normalizing COVID patient care in traditional medical settings, and ensuring public health readiness and surge capacity. As Coloradans prepare to move forward, many are wondering what living with COVID-19 will look like.
“We don’t have enough information to answer this question yet,” said Dr. Bob Belknap, Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) Chief Medical Officer. “It’s possible that new variants will emerge with regularity like influenza or that they’ll occur sporadically. I am hopeful that with the continued accumulation of community-level protection through vaccinations and infection, as well as expanded access to early diagnosis and effective treatments for all, we’ll be able to manage future variants without major disruptions to our daily lives.”
The state’s key strategy for minimizing the impact of SARS-CoV2 moving forward will be to monitor how much virus is circulating in the community as well as the severity of the disease to inform public health decisions. Those efforts will focus on transmission reduction measures by continuing to vaccinate the population and ensuring access to testing and treatment.
As the responsibilities for testing, treatment, and vaccination shift to health care systems, BCPH says it will mainly focus on supporting people who face barriers to accessing health care.
BCPH recommends everyone who is eligible should get their booster as soon as they can because immunity from vaccines and prior infections wanes over time. Dr. Belknap offered the following guidance to Coloradans making plans to travel and gather this summer:
- Stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. Vaccines have proven to be safe and are the most effective way to protect against the most severe risks of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death.
- Be aware of the Community Levels in your area and anywhere you may be traveling. If COVID cases are increasing, consider the increased personal risk of travel.
- Crowded indoor gatherings create the most significant risk. Consider avoiding large gatherings, moving outside or wearing a mask.
- Be aware of your own risk tolerance and be mindful that other people will be different. Make decisions based on your comfort level and be respectful of people who have a higher or lower tolerance for risk than you.
BCPH offers a COVID-19 risk assessment guide to help protect the community from infection and transmission.