Coronavirus

Colorado Counties With a High COVID Rate Quadruple in Six Weeks

Denver has one of the highest two-week cumulative incidence rates for COVID-19 in Colorado.
Denver has one of the highest two-week cumulative incidence rates for COVID-19 in Colorado. Denver7 file photo via YouTube
The number of Colorado counties currently registering elevated levels of COVID-19 under the original metric used by the state health department is more than four times higher than it was less than six weeks ago.

On May 24, eight counties in the state were at Level Red on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's COVID dial dashboard as measured by their two-week cumulative incidence rate — more than 300 cases per 100,000 people over the previous fourteen days. On July 5, the total hit 35, representing more than half of Colorado's 64 counties, including all of those in the Denver metro area.

The color-coded COVID dial places counties at Level Green by the two-week cumulative incidence rate when they have fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 people. On July 5, eight hit that mark: Jackson, Sedgwick, Washington, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Hinsdale, Dolores and Baca. No counties landed at Level Blue (between 25 and 75 cases), while just three — Delta, Gilpin and Prowers — were designated Level Yellow (between 75 and 175 cases). But eighteen counties were at Level Orange, representing between 175 and 300 cases: Moffat, Grand, Eagle, Clear Creek, Lake, Park, Chaffee, Gunnison, Custer, Archuleta, Las Animas, Crowley, Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson, Yuma, Phillips and Morgan.

That put the remaining 35 counties, including those incorporating all of Colorado's largest communities (Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Greeley, Pueblo, Grand Junction and more), at Level Red. The two-week cumulative incidence rates for this group range from a low of 353.4 per 100,000 in Otero County to 1,680.7 per 100,000 in San Juan County.

In Denver proper, the two-week cumulative incidence rate on July 5 was 681.4, the seventh highest in the state.

Here are the 35 Level Red counties, from lowest to highest two-week cumulative incidence rate:

Otero County
353.4 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Mesa County
364.3 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Logan County
369.1 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Montrose County
376 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Montezuma County
406.1 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Garfield County
411.5 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Rio Blanco County
428.5 two-week cumulative incidence rate

San Miguel County
434.1 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Jefferson County
434.3 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Teller County
439.9 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Bent County
447.4 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Adams County
450.3 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Weld County
453.5 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Douglas County
458.6 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Routt County
471 two-week cumulative incidence rate

La Plata County
478 two-week cumulative incidence rate

El Paso County
478.8 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Summit County
490.1 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Broomfield County
513 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Arapahoe County
533.9 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Pitkin County
552.9 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Saguache County
561.3 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Pueblo County
569.4 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Costilla County
573.7 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Boulder County
585.4 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Larimer County
601.1 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Fremont County
607.5 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Ouray County
676.1 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Denver County
681.4 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Rio Grande County
683.7 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Huerfano County
793.5 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Alamosa County
832.9 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Mineral County
930.2 two-week cumulative incidence rate

Conejos County
1,048.5 two-week cumulative incidence rate

San Juan County
1,680.7 two-week cumulative incidence rate

While the CDPHE continues to measure the two-week cumulative incidence rate for informational purposes, the agency's standard is now the one-week cumulative incidence rate established by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under the one-week cumulative incidence rate, counties with more than 200 cases per 100,000 people during the previous seven days register at Level Red if at least 10 percent of hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

By the one-week measure, the number of Colorado counties with high COVID counts has ballooned, too, going from 25 at Level Yellow or above on May 24 to 43 on July 5.

No Colorado counties were at Level Green (fewer than 35 cases per 100,000 people) by the one-week cumulative incidence rate on July 5, and just ten (Delta Lake, Grand, Gilpin, Washington, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Crowley, Cheyenne and Prowers) hit Level Blue, between 35 and 100 cases per 100,000. But 36 counties, including all of those in the metro area, were defined as Level Yellow (100-300 cases per 100,000); seven — Rio Blanco, Jackson, Larimer, Conejos, Alamosa, Bent and Huerfano — were at Level Orange (300-500 cases per 100,000); and one, San Juan, was at Level Red (more than 500 cases per 100,000).

Here are the CDC recommendations for counties that have high levels of COVID-19.
• Wear a well-fitting mask1 indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status (including in K-12 schools and other indoor community settings)
• If you are immunocompromised or high risk for severe disease
— Wear a mask or respirator that provides you with greater protection
— Consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you could be exposed
— Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to take other precautions (e.g., testing)
— Have a plan for rapid testing if needed (e.g., having home tests or access to testing)
— Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies
• If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease
— Consider self-testing to detect infection before contact
— Consider wearing a mask when indoors with them
• Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
• Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible
• Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19
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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