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Colorado COVID-19 Deaths Way Up After Thanksgiving

Colorado COVID-19 Deaths Way Up After Thanksgiving
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The latest data on COVID-19 assembled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment doesn't outline the worst-case scenario many officials feared in the wake of the Thanksgiving holiday, at least related to new cases and hospitalizations. But the pace of deaths from the novel coronavirus has accelerated by more than 50 percent, and this lagging statistic is likely to get worse before it improves.

Here are the latest figures in major categories as updated by the CDPHE on the evening of December 6, juxtaposed with stats from one week earlier.

260,581 cases (up 31,809 from November 29)
14,868 hospitalizations (up 1,440 from November 29)
64 counties (unchanged since November 29)
3,456 deaths among cases (up 453 from November 29)
2,724 deaths due to COVID-19 (up 203 from November 29)
2,386 outbreaks (up 250 from November 29)

Four major takeaways:

• The increase of COVID-19 cases from November 29 to December 5 is higher than the one the previous week (30,172), but only by a relatively modest amount.
• The hospitalization spike is steeper; the jump from November 22 to November 29 was 944. Still, the November 22 increase was 1,360, making the 1,440 seem less severe by comparison.
• Deaths are the biggest area of concern. Casualties among cases increased by nearly 57 percent from the week before, when they climbed by 197, and fatalities directly attributable to COVID-19 increased by more than 18 percent over the same period.
• New outbreaks soared from 228 to 250, suggesting that last week's decline was an anomaly related to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here are the new COVID-19 cases in Colorado by the date reported to the state, over the most recent ten-day period available:

December 5 — 3,238
December 4 — 3,843
December 3 — 5,112
December 2 — 5,763
December 1 — 4,052
November 30 — 4,577
November 29 — 4,263
November 28 — 3,629
November 27 — 4,380
November 26 — 4,056

Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate, defined 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," requires some contextualization. As of December 6, it stands at 12.17 percent, up from 11.02 percent on November 29 — but the difference isn't as dramatic as many observers expected. Even better, the previous week's outpatient syndromic COVID-19 visits tumbled in a big way, from 20.85 percent on November 29 to 8.99 percent a week later.

As for hospitalizations, ICU bed capacity has improved. Last week, the southwest region of the state showed 0 percent availability, but the new estimate is 21 percent. Moreover, the lowest capacity for any sector is 14 percent in the foothills, giving medical center administrators a respite from panic.

Likewise, the number of patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19 has either dipped or remained fairly steady, and fresh admissions have slowed. The 129 on December 6 is well below the 219 patient average over the seven days preceding the date, and a far cry from the 216 admissions a week earlier.

Ten-day windows into these metrics:

Patients Currently Hospitalized for COVID-19

December 6, 2020
1,750 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,633 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
117 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 5, 2020
1,812 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,685 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
127 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 4, 2020
1,883 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,740 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
143 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 3, 2020
1,956 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,796 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
160 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 2, 2020
1,995 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,841 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
154 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 1, 2020
1,977 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,847 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
130 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 30, 2020
1,940 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,834 (95 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
106 (5 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 29, 2020
1,847 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,749 (95 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
98 (5 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 28, 2020
1,852 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,725 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
127 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 27, 2020
1,797 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,682 (94 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
115 (6 percent) Persons Under Investigation

New Hospital Admissions by Admission Date

December 6, 2020
129 patients admitted to the hospital
219 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 5, 2020
205 patients admitted to the hospital
235 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 4, 2020
211 patients admitted to the hospital
244 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 3, 2020
194 patients admitted to the hospital
247 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 2, 2020
218 patients admitted to the hospital
246 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 1, 2020
266 patients admitted to the hospital
254 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 30, 2020
308 patients admitted to the hospital
257 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 29, 2020
243 patients admitted to the hospital
254 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 28, 2020
267 patients admitted to the hospital
247 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

To borrow a phrase from Governor Jared Polis, Colorado isn't out of the woods yet. COVID-19 surges can develop as late as two weeks after an event such as Thanksgiving, as stats collected after the Fourth of July and Labor Day demonstrated. Moreover, the death increases epitomize the high costs the state will continue to pay while waiting for distribution of a vaccine.

Fortunately, injections no longer seem so far away. On December 3, the CDPHE placed the state's first order for the Pfizer vaccine in anticipation of an emergency-use authorization by the federal Food and Drug Administration. The 46,800 doses requested represent a small first step toward finally ending the worst American pandemic in more than a century.

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