What’s driving up COVID numbers in Colorado?

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — The reasons behind Colorado’s surging COVID-19 cases remain somewhat of a mystery, according to some health officials.

Dr. Lisa Miller is a professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health. She says nearly two years into the pandemic, there is a lot scientists are still trying to understand about COVID-19 and how the virus behaves.

“It isn’t really clear why these curves look exactly the way they do, how long the virus stays, when it leaves and why. I don’t think we know all those answers. I don’t think we have a good explanation,” Miller said.

Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday that Colorado has become the fifth highest state in the country for COVID-19 rates. Miller said some health officials have used Colorado’s cooler weather as a possible explanation.

“I don’t really buy that, because there’s plenty of northern states that didn’t see what we saw and what we continue to see,” Miller said.

More than 78% of eligible Coloradans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — a rate that’s higher than many other states. Miller said looking at the state vaccination rate alone is deceiving and explains that disparities between counties may have something to do with the rising case numbers.

A dozen counties in Colorado have a vaccination rate of 80% or above, while 13 counties are sitting at 50% or less.

A team of experts at the Colorado School of Public Health regularly issue modeling data based on COVID-19 trends, like how many people are still susceptible and current transmission rates. Miller said even with solid data, they can’t predict how human behavior will shape the course of the pandemic.

“I do know that if we get to a certain point there may be no choice but to implement other measures that will prevent more cases,” Miller said.

How to slow the spread of COVID-19

Miller said previous waves of the virus proved certain measures, like masking and social distancing, help to slow the spread of the virus. Health experts say getting a vaccine is the best way to combat the current crisis. They also encourage eligible individuals to get a booster shot.

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