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COVID-19 Data Struggles Against Vaccination Shortfalls, New Rules

Governor Jared Polis, right, in an unmasked chat with constituents in Alamosa over the weekend.EXPAND
Governor Jared Polis, right, in an unmasked chat with constituents in Alamosa over the weekend.
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The latest statistics regarding the battle against COVID-19 from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show some improvements in most metrics. But a CDPHE/Colorado School of Public Health study warns of potential problems, given disappointing vaccination numbers and a loosening of safety protocols.

On May 14, the very day that Governor Jared Polis dropped mask-use requirements and social distancing mandates for fully vaccinated people at most indoor and outdoor locations in the state to align with new federal guidance, these two health institutions released a modeling report indicating that the novel coronavirus and its assorted variants "are still spreading at a high level. Currently, one in 81 Coloradans are estimated to be infected." Moreover, "the modeling indicates that the course of the epidemic curve into summer depends on the success of vaccinating Coloradans in the weeks ahead and on the level of transmission control that is maintained."

The figures related to vaccination, in particular, are far less robust than health officials would like them to be.

Here are the most recent stats from the CDPHE, refreshed after 4 p.m. on May 16. We've juxtaposed them with information from May 11, highlighted in our last COVID-19 roundup:

531,700 cases (up 6,226 from May 11)
7,063 variants of concern (up 881 from May 11)
469 variants under investigation (up 83 from May 11)
29,216 hospitalized (up 389 from May 11)
64 counties (unchanged from May 11)
6,450 deaths among cases (up 79 from May 11)
6,562 deaths due to COVID-19 (up 25 from May 11)
5,243 outbreaks (up 83 from May 11)

Four major takeaways:

• The number of new COVID-19 cases is continuing to shrink, though modestly. There were 6,226 new cases reported during the five days from May 11 to May 16; 11,709 were registered over the nine-day period between May 2 and May 11.

• Hospitalizations are also slowing. There were 389 hospitalizations reported from May 11 to May 16, compared to a 744 jump from May 2 to May 11.

• The rate of newly identified COVID-19 outbreaks appears to have peaked. From May 2 to May 11, 204 fresh outbreaks were identified. From May 11 to May 16, just 83 were added.

• The most important figure — deaths attributed to COVID-19 — took the most significant dip. Over the nine days between May 2 and May 11, 88 people died from the disease in Colorado; just 25 individuals passed away because of the virus from May 11 to May 16 dates. That's five fatalities a day, down from more than nine.

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 account for the majority of new COVID-19 cases in the state. But while the variant total skyrocketed from 3,584 to 6,182 between May 2 and May 11, the increase to May 16 was 881.

The overall number of daily COVID-19 cases reported to the state offer hope, as well. Over the past ten days, four registered fewer than 1,000 new cases, and the 452 on May 15 was the lowest number since 256 cases on March 21. Here's the rundown:

May 15 — 452 Cases
May 14 — 743 Cases
May 13 — 1,131 Cases
May 12 — 1,923 Cases
May 11 — 1,211 Cases
May 10 — 862 Cases
May 9 — 839 Cases
May 8 — 1,078 Cases
May 7 — 1,386 Cases
May 6 — 1,352 Cases

The news about 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," is better, too. The 3.53 percent state positivity rate on May 16 is slightly over half of the 6.82 percent recorded on May 11 and well below the 5 percent level that health experts see as a warning sign.

The vaccination data released on May 16 offers less reason for optimism. The latest stats for Colorado:

2,343,920 people fully immunized
2,812,955 people immunized with one dose
12,231 people vaccinated on May 15 with Pfizer vaccine (down 7,646); 20,753 immunizations with Pfizer vaccine reported May 15 but administered on an earlier date
7,420 people immunized on May 15 with Moderna vaccine (down 2,772); 5,873 immunizations with Moderna vaccine reported may 15 but administered on an earlier date
474 people vaccinated on May 15 with Janssen vaccine (down 625); 1,075 immunizations with Janssen vaccine reported May 15 but administered on an earlier date

The number of Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations administered on May 15 both slid by thousands from the previous day. Furthermore, the one-dose Janssen treatment, better known as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, was given to fewer than 500 people statewide on May 15 — a particularly worrisome sign, since that shot's being promoted most heavily to young people, who've been less likely to line up for an inoculation.

In contrast, hospitalization stats are moving in a promising direction. New hospitalization numbers, which averaged over 100 per day earlier this month, were down to a seven-day average of 65 on May 16, and total hospitalizations have fallen from more than 700 to just over 600. Here are the stats for the past ten days:

New Hospital Admissions by Admission Date

May 16
27 patients admitted to the hospital
65 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 15
71 patients admitted to the hospital
74 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 14
42 patients admitted to the hospital
81 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 13
74 patients admitted to the hospital
85 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 12
92 patients admitted to the hospital
89 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 11
79 patients admitted to the hospital
96 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 10
69 patients admitted to the hospital
103 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 9
91 patients admitted to the hospital
106 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 8
117 patients admitted to the hospital
110 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 7
73 patients admitted to the hospital
104 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

Patients Currently Hospitalized for COVID-19

May 16
609 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
563 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
46 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 15
631 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
577 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
54 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 14
632 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
582 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
50 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 13
646 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
603 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
43 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 12
681 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
624 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
57 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 11
684 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
631 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
53 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 10
703 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
653 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
50 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 9
713 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
664 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
49 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 8
731 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
679 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
52 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 7
722 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
667 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
55 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

If the vaccination rate picks up over the next few weeks, these numbers should continue to drop. But more than half of the Coloradans who are eligible for vaccinations haven't gotten their shots thus far, and if they don't step up, they could find themselves in the midst of another disease surge.

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