Colorado plans to ramp up variant testing as US sees slight uptick


DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado continues to make progress in suppressing COVID-19 infections.
Health leaders say our positive case numbers and hospitalizations remain low and flat, but there is still room for improvement.

Regarding COVID cases, Colorado’s numbers are falling overall, but the state is still in the middle of the pack nationally. On top of that, variant cases are on the rise.

“There is work that suggest that by March and April across the country, the variant will become the dominant strain of the virus. So, there could be a spring surge in April if that variant started to grow. We haven’t seen that at this point,” said Dr. Eric France, the state’s chief medical officer.

The goal is to keep it that way. Colorado health leaders say good health practices have kept COVID numbers down and flu numbers practically out of the picture this season.

But the U.K. variant first found in the U.S. here in Colorado is spreading across the nation, with nearly 1,900 cases in 45 states.

Colorado is up to 86 variant cases and 36 cases are under investigation. The state says it plans to ramp up variant testing.

“Maco will be begin providing us data that will also help us in our surveillance for the variant,” France said. “So it’s expanding in terms of our surveillance. We think having info from this other partner will be helpful for us as well.”

The expansion coming as a New York variant has doctors concerned as it spreads in that state. So far, only the U.K. and California variants have been found in Colorado. Experts are watching closely as doctors continue to study the vaccine’s efficacy against the strains, while Colorado makes progress getting shots into arms.

“We have now administered over 1,320,517 cumulative doses across the state,” Kate McIntire, deputy director for the state’s Vaccine Task Force, said.

The state says rollout for educators has been going smoothly but they have seen some reluctancy among younger teachers. It’s something the state hopes to improve before moving on to the next phase of rollout.

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