DENVER (KDVR) — New modeling suggests the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak could arrive in Colorado in late August.
Recent protests over the death of George Floyd have not helped the cause of social distancing.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Jared Polis told reporters, “Health experts tell me it could result in hundreds of new cases and untold pain, death and suffering just as we were making progress.”
Even before the demonstrations began, new modeling from the Colorado School of Public Health suggested Colorado could have an outbreak in August that’s worse than the state’s peak in mid-April.
“We know that mobility has gone up, we know that people are moving around more,” said Dr. Jonathan Samet, the dean of the Colorado School of Public Health.
Social distancing measures allowed Colorado to avoid worst-case projections earlier this year, but Samet said the expected relaxation of those measures, as businesses reopen, could set the state back by late August.
“We know that lightening up in the face of so many of us being susceptible will lead to an increasing number of cases,” he said.
Samet said by most estimates, only 3 percent of Colorado residents have been infected with the coronavirus, which means 97 percent of the state is still vulnerable.
Since the state doesn’t have herd immunity and a vaccine remains far off, Samet said the key to fending off a second wave worse than first will be social distancing, especially among the elderly.
“It’ll happen because we lighten up too much on our social distancing — that’s the No. 1 thing that we have to control,” he said.
The good news is, Samet said Colorado has doubled its bed capacity for COVID-19 patients since the outbreak began. In addition, the state’s RO number (rate of transmission) has dropped below a one, meaning every infected person passes the virus on to less than one person, on average.
But Tuesday’s report from the Colorado School of Public Health shows the RO number is beginning to increase again.