Coronavirus

Colorado Counties With the Most COVID-19 Outbreaks Per Capita

Mezzaluna Aspen, one of the town's most popular restaurants, was identified as an outbreak in June and is now under Level Red restrictions, which ban indoor dining.
Mezzaluna Aspen, one of the town's most popular restaurants, was identified as an outbreak in June and is now under Level Red restrictions, which ban indoor dining. Google Maps
The number of COVID-19 outbreaks in Colorado since the start of the pandemic is now well over 3,000 — and the counties that appear most frequently on this list also comprise most of the places where the disease is most virulent right now.

Case in point: Pitkin County, which is anchored by Aspen and just shifted to Level Red restrictions, has Colorado's highest incidence rate; it also currently has the second-highest number outbreaks under investigation as measured by population.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment considers an entity an outbreak after two or more COVID-19 cases among residents, staffers or other people connected to a specific location are confirmed within a fourteen-day period, or two or more cases of respiratory illness with an onset of symptoms within a fourteen-day period are paired with at least one additional COVID-19 diagnosis. The vast majority of businesses and facilities identified as outbreaks remain open, while working with the department to monitor symptoms and prevent future infections.

The CDPHE's most recent report, released on January 6, lists 1,132 active outbreaks and 2,013 considered resolved, for a total of 3,145. El Paso County, home of Colorado Springs, registered the most active outbreaks by sheer volume: 161, or more than 10 percent of the total. Denver County finished second, with 130. But because the two counties are so large, they're near the middle of the pack when it comes to outbreaks per capita. Denver is in twelfth place among the top twenty, registering one outbreak for every 5,511 residents; El Paso is in eleventh, notching one outbreak per 4,475.


In contrast, Pitkin County has one outbreak for every 1,110 residents. Only Montezuma County has more outbreaks per capita, and the difference is slim: one per 1,090 residents.

In our January 8 post about the Level Orange Colorado counties most in the red, Pitkin County had the second-highest COVID-19 cumulative two-week incidence rate, at 1948.6, trailing Bent's astronomical 4070.4. But as of this morning, January 13, Bent has dropped to second place, with 2155.9, while Pitkin has risen to the peak, at 2545.6.

While Bent is in the far southeast corner of the state, other counties known for their ski resorts rate high on the per capita outbreaks list, including Summit, which includes Breckenridge, and Routt, which boasts Steamboat Springs.

Here are the twenty Colorado counties with the most outbreaks by population:

20. Broomfield
Number of outbreaks: 6
Population: 69,267 (2018)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 11,544

19. Weld
Number of outbreaks: 31
Population: 324,492 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 10,467

18. Douglas
Number of outbreaks: 36
Population: 351,154 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 9,754

17. Arapahoe
Number of outbreaks: 73
Population: 656,590 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 8,994

16. Adams
Number of outbreaks: 62
Population: 497,115 (2018)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 8,018

15. Eagle
Number of outbreaks: 7
Population: 55,127 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 7,875

14. Jefferson
Number of outbreaks: 77
Population: 582,881 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 7,570

13. Boulder
Number of outbreaks: 50
Population: 326,196 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 6,524

12. Denver
Number of outbreaks: 130
Population: 716,492 (2018)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 5,511

11. El Paso
Number of outbreaks: 161
Population: 720,403 (2019)
Outbreaks per capital: 1 per 4,475

10. Larimer
Number of outbreaks: 87
Population: 356,899 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 4,102

9. Mesa
Number of outbreaks: 38
Population: 154,210 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 4,058

8. Fremont
Number of outbreaks: 15
Population: 47,839 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 3,189

7. Teller
Number of outbreaks: 9
Population: 25,388 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 2,821

6. Pueblo
Number of outbreaks: 93
Population: 168,424 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 1,811

5. Summit
Number of outbreaks: 23
Population: 31,011 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 1,348

4. Routt
Number of outbreaks: 20
Population: 25,638 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 1,282

3. Kit Carson
Number of outbreaks: 6
Population: 7,163 (2018)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 1,194

2. Pitkin
Number of outbreaks: 16
Population: 17,767 (2019)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 1,110

1. Montezuma
Number of outbreaks: 24
Population: 26,158 (2018)
Outbreaks per capita: 1 per 1,090
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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