Coronavirus

Colorado Counties Way Above COVID Lockdown Levels

A bird's eye view of Eads, the anchor of Kiowa County.
A bird's eye view of Eads, the anchor of Kiowa County. YouTube
The statewide lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado was announced more than nineteen months ago. But current county data shows that the two-week cumulative incidence rate for the disease is actually much worse than it was back in March 2020, and even during the late 2020 spike that registered the largest number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

A prime example: As of October 27, one Colorado county has a two-week cumulative incidence rate more than sixteen times higher than the point at which it would have qualified for the state's tightest restrictions last year.

Early in the pandemic, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment developed a COVID-19 dial dashboard that used a color-code system to help officials identify businesses allowed to reopen and at what capacity based on the two-week cumulative incidence rate of the virus there, among other things. Since then, the dial has been tweaked several times before being consigned to advisory status in March of this year, but the dashboard remains operational. The current code establishes Level Green at fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 people, Level Blue at between 25 and 75 cases, Level Yellow at between 75 and 175, Level Orange at between 175 and 350, and Level Red at more than 350.

On May 18, 2020, after Governor Jared Polis eased his stay-at-home order, ten Colorado counties were at Level Red because of their two-week cumulative incidence rate. Over the summer, the numbers improved, but they got worse in the fall — and on November 11, as another wave of the virus was gathering strength, the dashboard listed 39 counties at Level Red. On that date, three counties had a two-week cumulative incidence rate above 1,000, with Crowley County topping the roster at 2039.1.


Today, 56 of Colorado's 64 counties are at Level Red, according to their two-week cumulative incidence rate. Nine of those counties have a two-week cumulative incidence rate above 1,000, topped by Kiowa County, which registers a stunning 5878.1.

Right now, just three counties — San Juan, Mineral and Hinsdale — are at Level Green, which translates to fewer than eight cases over the past two weeks. None are at Level Blue or Level Yellow, while five are at Level Orange: Gunnison, San Miguel, Boulder, Broomfield and Clear Creek. (The latest map shows Summit and Pitkin counties also at Level Orange, but that's inaccurate, since their two-week cumulative incidence rates are both over 300.)

The rest of the state's counties are at Level Red, according to their two-week cumulative incidence rates, including the entire Denver area. However, the highest rates tend to be in rural counties, especially on the eastern plains — and many of them have among the lowest vaccination rates in the state. The CDPHE's vaccine data dashboard shows that less than 50 percent of the population in 21 Colorado counties is fully vaccinated.

Although the correlation isn't precise, counties with the highest two-week cumulative incidence rates tend to have some of the lowest vaccination rates.


Here are the current two-week cumulative incidence rates of all 64 Colorado counties, along with their vaccination rates.

1-3: Level Green counties, with fewer than eight cases in the past two weeks: San Juan (96.5 percent fully vaccinated), Mineral (83.4 percent fully vaccinated) and Hinsdale (62.3 percent fully vaccinated)

4-8: Level Orange counties, with between 175 and 300 cases per 100,000: Gunnison (200.1, 74.8 percent fully vaccinated), San Miguel (281.5, 84.4 percent fully vaccinated), Boulder (296.8, 79.3 percent fully vaccinated), Broomfield (also 296.8, 83.2 percent fully vaccinated) and Clear Creek (297.7, 59.5 percent fully vaccinated)

Level Red counties with more than 300 cases per 100,000 people.

9. Summit: 322.8
83.7 percent fully vaccinated

10. Pitkin: 332.3
80.8 percent fully vaccinated

11. Denver: 368.7
77.9 percent fully vaccinated

12. Saguache: 381
45.1 percent fully vaccinated

13. Gilpin: 402.3
61.1 percent fully vaccinated

14. Arapahoe: 402.4
72.1 percent fully vaccinated

15. Douglas: 413.9
75 percent fully vaccinated

16. Crowley: 414.5
44.7 percent fully vaccinated

17. Jefferson: 428.6
77.4 percent fully vaccinated

18. Grand: 439
64.2 percent fully vaccinated

19. Conejos: 453.4
52.5 percent fully vaccinated

20. Adams: 489.9
70.7 percent fully vaccinated

21. Eagle: 490.3
83.7 percent fully vaccinated

22. La Plata: 495.8
72.9 percent fully vaccinated

23. Chaffee: 505.9
70.2 percent fully vaccinated

24. Routt: 514.6
78.9 percent fully vaccinated

25. Elbert: 532.1
45.3 percent fully vaccinated

26. Custer: 533.7
47.2 percent fully vaccinated

27. Garfield: 540.2
67.1 percent fully vaccinated

28. Larimer: 542.7
71 percent fully vaccinated

29. Lake: 581.6
62.9 percent fully vaccinated

30. Dolores: 589.1
40.1 percent fully vaccinated

31. Costilla: 594
62.6 percent fully vaccinated

32. Park: 610.3
49.8 percent fully vaccinated

33. Archuleta: 614.2
60.9 percent fully vaccinated

34. Moffat: 618.8
45.5 percent fully vaccinated

35. El Paso: 625.9
64.3 percent fully vaccinated

36. Morgan: 634.8
50.3 percent fully vaccinated

37. Logan: 716.4
41.7 percent fully vaccinated

38. Otero: 716.6
50.7 percent fully vaccinated

39. Delta: 721.8
49.8 percent fully vaccinated

40. Phillips: 724.6
56.6 percent fully vaccinated

41. Huerfano: 729.5
56.4 percent fully vaccinated

42. Las Animas: 731.4
63.6 percent fully vaccinated

43. Weld: 731.4
61.5 percent fully vaccinated

44. Lincoln: 755.4
41.6 percent fully vaccinated

45. Rio Grande: 756.4
62.6 percent fully vaccinated

46. Yuma: 765.2
47.1 percent fully vaccinated

47. Mesa: 770
52.3 percent fully vaccinated

48. Ouray: 770.2
68.9 percent fully vaccinated

49. Baca: 787.4
43.2 percent fully vaccinated

50. Teller: 812.5
55 percent fully vaccinated

51. Prowers: 824.9
45.6 percent fully vaccinated

52. Pueblo: 831
58.2 percent fully vaccinated

53. Alamosa: 883.8
59.9 percent fully vaccinated

54. Jackson: 940
45 percent fully vaccinated

55. Montrose: 963.4
50.1 percent fully vaccinated

56. Bent: 1069.3
41.4 percent fully vaccinated

57. Fremont: 1083
49.2 percent fully vaccinated

58. Kit Carson: 1136.4
40.2 percent fully vaccinated

59. Cheyenne: 1150.7
34.2 percent fully vaccinated

60. Montezuma: 1215.6
61.8 percent fully vaccinated

61. Rio Blanco: 1442.8
39.5 percent fully vaccinated

62. Washington: 1644.9
32.9 percent fully vaccinated

63. Sedgwick: 1659.9
52.3 percent fully vaccinated

64. Kiowa: 5878.1
40.4 percent fully vaccinated
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts