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Colorado's COVID-19 Data Still Sucks Despite Loosened Mask Order

Swedish Medical Center is an acute-care hospital with 408 licensed beds.
Swedish Medical Center is an acute-care hospital with 408 licensed beds.
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On May 2, Governor Jared Polis extended Colorado's mask order but added a new section allowing individuals to skip wearing facial covering indoors under specific circumstances, loosening up some restrictions. But the latest COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, updated that same day, continues to be varying shades of lousy, paced by some of the worst hospitalization news in three months.

Here are the most recent statewide figures from the CDPHE, refreshed after 4 p.m. yesterday, April 25. We've juxtaposed them with information from April 18, highlighted in our last COVID-19 roundup:

513,765 cases (up 11,523 from April 25)
3,584 variants of concern (up 363 from April 25)
122 variants under investigation (up 14 from April 25)
28,083 hospitalizations (up 710 from April 25)
64 counties (unchanged from April 25)
6,304 deaths among cases (up 53 from April 25)
6,449 deaths due to COVID-19 (up 65 from April 25)
4,956 outbreaks (up 172 from April 25)

Four major takeaways:

• While the May 2 case number of 11,523 is under the 11,953 registered a week earlier, this state's decline is well behind the nationwide slide of 16 percent over the same period.

• There's been no dip for new hospitalizations, which jumped from 537 on April 25 to 710 seven days later.

• Freshly identified COVID-19 outbreaks are also continuing to rise.  The addition of 172 outbreaks on May 2 tops the 164 registered on April 25.

• The most important figure — deaths attributed to COVID-19 — has been going in the wrong direction since the 34 passings listed on April 18. The May 2 total of 65 is nearly double that amount, and significantly more than the 54 casualties registered during the week leading up to April 25.

Variants — which, according to the CDPHE, "spread easier, cause more severe disease, reduce the effectiveness of treatments or vaccine, or [are] harder to detect using current tests" — continue to represent the majority of new COVID-19 cases in the state, but the number detected by investigators isn't growing at the rate seen over the past month or so. The 3,584 variants of concern is up by 363, around a third of the total.

Like the overall number of daily COVID-19 cases reported to the state for the week, daily totals were down by a modest amount over the past ten days. While no day's count exceeded 2,000 new cases — a number hit the previous week — three topped 1,800. Here's the rundown.

May 1 — 829 Cases
April 30 — 1,492 Cases
April 29 — 1,642 Cases
April 28 — 1,893 Cases
April 27 — 1,755 Cases
April 26 — 1,450 Cases
April 25 — 981 Cases
April 24 — 1,700 Cases
April 23 — 1,837 Cases
April 22 — 1,875 Cases

At least Colorado's positivity rate, described by the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins as "the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive, or: (positive tests)/(total tests) x 100 percent," ducked beneath the 5 percent level that health officials see as a warning sign. The 4.71 percent on May 2 is a sizable improvement over the 6.33 percent on April 25.

But then there are the hospitalization stats. On April 25, the average number of new daily admissions for COVID-19 stood at 81. On May 2, the total hit 100. And the 127 people who checked in on April 26 was the highest total since the 154 on January 26.

Likewise, the total number of patients currently hospitalized in the state for COVID-19 on April 28 — 703 — was the highest since 724 on January 27. Here are the figures in both categories over the previous ten days:

New Hospital Admissions by Admission Date

May 2, 2021
112 patients admitted to the hospital
100 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 1, 2021
75 patients admitted to the hospital
95 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 30, 2021
92 patients admitted to the hospital
96 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 29, 2021
59 patients admitted to the hospital
99 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 28, 2021
118 patients admitted to the hospital
102 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 27, 2021
120 patients admitted to the hospital
96 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 26, 2021
127 patients admitted to the hospital
95 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 25, 2021
73 patients admitted to the hospital
85 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 24, 2021
84 patients admitted to the hospital
80 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 23, 2021
113 patients admitted to the hospital
79 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

Patients Currently Hospitalized for COVID-19

May 2, 2021
674 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
625 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
49 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 1, 2021
668 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
612 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
56 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 30, 2021
689 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
617 (90 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
72 (10 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 29, 2021
697 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
628 (90 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
69 (10 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 28, 2021
703 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
634 (90 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
69 (10 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 27, 2021
679 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
622 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
57 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 26, 2021
663 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
606 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
57 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 25, 2021
621 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
570 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
51 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 24, 2021
608 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
563 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
45 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 23, 2021
627 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
573 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
54 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

Polis's new mask order, which will remain in place for thirty days from May 2, reinforces the requirement that facial coverings be used in Colorado schools, child-care centers, public-facing state government facilities, jails, emergency medical settings and more. Likewise, in counties with more than 35 cases per 100,000 residents, the mandate to wear masks indoors if groups of ten or more unvaccinated people are present remains unchanged. But for such counties, masks are no longer required indoors with ten or more people if at least 80 percent of them are vaccinated.

Of course, knowing when this last standard has been met is almost impossible, since Coloradans aren't required to tattoo their vaccination status on their foreheads. 

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