Press "Enter" to skip to content

Colorado’s COVID-19 hospitalizations hold steady even as new infections grow

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Colorado have essentially held steady even as cases rose in recent weeks, perhaps reflecting that most of the people at the highest risk of severe illness have been vaccinated.

New cases in Colorado rose over the last week by almost 25%, with 3,184 recorded in the week ending Sunday. It was the fourth week of increases, though growth in previous weeks was more modest, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The percentage of tests coming back positive was also up slightly, though still below the state’s goal of 5%.

New hospital admissions related to the virus were down slightly compared to last week, but the total number of people receiving hospital care was essentially unchanged. As of Monday afternoon, 318 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic, hospitalizations tended to start rising about a week after cases did, said Beth Carlton, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the Colorado School of Public Health.

It’s possible that they’ve “decoupled” because most of the older population has been vaccinated, though it would still be concerning to see cases rising in younger populations, she said.

“It’s a ‘don’t panic, but get vaccinated’ moment,” she said.

About 80% of Colorado residents 65 and older have been fully vaccinated. The percentage is lower for younger age groups, with 62% of all eligible people — everyone 12 and older — completing their vaccine sequence.

Despite the uptick in cases, Colorado isn’t one of the country’s hotspots. The state has about seven cases for every 100,000 people, while Arkansas, Missouri and Florida have more than 30 for the same population size, according to the New York Times’ data tracker.

Hospitalizations compared to population in Colorado are about one-fifth what they are in Nevada, which is currently the hardest-hit state. Unlike in recent weeks, all Colorado counties reported hospitalizations were stable or falling over the last two weeks.

Cases were a different story, with substantial variation around the state. Denver had about 40 cases for every 100,000 people over the last week, but 11 counties had 100 or more cases for the same population.

The counties with the most cases were:

  • Moffat: 316.9 cases per 100,000 people
  • Hinsdale: 244.2
  • Delta: 243.8
  • Rio Blanco: 190.3
  • Mesa: 145.9
  • Garfield: 141.3
  • Archuleta: 135.7
  • Routt: 124.7
  • Las Animas: 124.2
  • Alamosa: 123.6
  • Summit: 116.2

While most of the counties with the most cases have low vaccination rates, Summit County is an exception. It’s the fourth-most vaccinated county in the state, with almost 77% of its eligible population completing the shot sequence.

With the exception of Mesa, Routt and Alamosa counties, all of the counties with high case rates also had positivity rates above the state’s 5% target. The higher the percentage of tests coming back positive, the more likely an area isn’t finding significant numbers of cases.

Other counties with positivity rates above the target were: Clear Creek, Custer, Eagle, Gilpin, Gunnison, Huerfano, Lake, Lincoln, Ouray, Saguache, San Miguel and Weld.