DENVER (KDVR) — The coronavirus omicron variant fueled record-level cases in Colorado over the past month, but there are signs that cases could now be trending downward statewide.
According to state data, the seven-day average for both cases and positivity rates peaked around Jan. 10. In the week since the seven-day average for cases has dropped 15% and the seven-day average for positivity rates has dropped 2%.
Colorado mountain counties, including Summit and Eagle, have already seen two weeks of declining case rates. Those counties were some of the first to experience omicron in Colorado.
Eagle County Public Health and Environment Director Heath Harmon said the rest of the state appears to be “three weeks behind us,” during a meeting that resulted in letting an indoor mask mandate expire.
While case data shows some signs of a downward trend, hospitalization numbers historically lag behind. Colorado hospitals may not see the relief of the latest COVID wave for a couple more weeks.
We’re learning that more patients are coming in with what’s known as incidental COVID, where they are entering the hospital for a different reason, but happen to test positive for COVID.
UCHealth Director of Infection Prevention Dr. Michelle Barron found that gap has gotten wider with the omicron variant, with only 1/3 of their patients being hospitalized because of COVID in January, compared to 95% hospitalized because of COVID in August during a wave of the delta variant.
Currently, 70% of Colorado hospital patients with COVID are unvaccinated. There is still no data to support that vaccinated Coloradans are more likely to show up in the hospital with incidental COVID. State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said in an interview with FOX31 the data may eventually show that, considering unvaccinated COVID patients tend to have severe illness that warrants a trip to the ICU.
“I would say that vaccinated people are probably more likely to be in the hospital with COVID while unvaccinated people are more likely to be in the hospital due to COVID,” Herlihy said.