Coronavirus

Colorado COVID-19 Data Goes From Bad to Mediocre

Governor Jared Polis on a visit to the 9Heath Fair/Salvation Army vaccination site in the Whittier neighborhood on May 10.
Governor Jared Polis on a visit to the 9Heath Fair/Salvation Army vaccination site in the Whittier neighborhood on May 10. colorado.gov
Despite the optimism expressed by Governor Jared Polis during a May 11 news conference, the latest COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is not worth cheering. Progress has been made on several fronts, but it's small and incremental — while the numbers related to case counts, hospitalizations and more remain far higher than most experts had hoped to see, given the significant portion of residents who've either started or completed a vaccination regimen.

Here are the most recent statewide metrics from the CDPHE, refreshed after 4 p.m. on May 11. We've juxtaposed them with information from May 2, highlighted in our last COVID-19 roundup:

525,474 cases (up 11,709 from May 2)
6,182 variants of concern (up 2,598 from May 2)
386 variants under investigation (up 264 from May 2)
28,827 hospitalized (up 744 from May 2)
64 counties (unchanged from May 2)
6,371 deaths among COVID-19 cases (up 67 from May 2)
6,537 deaths due to COVID-19 (up 88 from May 2)
5,160 outbreaks (up 204 from May 2)

Four major takeaways:

• The number of new COVID-19 cases is finally slowing after weeks of moving up far too fast. The 11,709 case increase over the nine days since May 2 is only slightly higher than the 11,523 bump over the seven-day period between April 25 and May 2.

• The same scenario is in play regarding hospitalizations. The 744 hospitalization rise from May 2 to May 11 represents a slower pace than the 710-patient rise from April 25 to May 2. But the improvement is minor.

• The rate of newly identified COVID-19 outbreaks seems to have roughly plateaued. Over the last nine days,  204 outbreaks were registered, compared to 172 counted during the previous seven days.

• The most important figure — deaths attributed to COVID-19 — also seems to be leveling off, though the 88 passings from May 2 to May 11 translates to a daily rate a bit worse than during the week of April 25 to May 2, when 65 deaths were recorded (around 9.7 deaths per day, compared to approximately 9.2 deaths per day).

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, and the variant total has skyrocketed lately, going from 3,584 to 6,182 in nine days. That includes five cases of the Indian coronavirus variant identified in five women from different households in Mesa County last week.

Still, the overall number of daily COVID-19 cases reported to the state offer some hope. While only three days out of the last ten finished with fewer than 1,000 cases, two of them were the most recent days for which information is available. Here's the rundown.

May 10 — 708 Cases
May 9 — 778 Cases
May 8 — 1,030 Cases
May 7 — 1,313 Cases
May 6 — 1,309 Cases
May 5 — 1,379 Cases
May 4 — 1,461 Cases
May 3 — 1,363 Cases
May 2 — 914 Cases
May 1 — 1,101 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 less hopeful. The 6.82 percent on May 11 was much worse than the 4.71 percent on May 2, and well above the 5 percent level that health officials see as a warning sign — though the seven-day average is just a hair beneath that mark, at 4.96 percent.

Then there are the hospitalization stats. Last week, daily COVID-19 hospitalizations soared over 100 — some of the most troublesome stats in months — but the last three days were back to double digits. Likewise, the cumulative virus hospitalization figures are again below 700 after soaring to 731 on May 8. Here are the figures in both categories over the previous ten days:

New Hospital Admissions by Admission Date

May 11, 2021
72 patients admitted to the hospital
90 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 10, 2021
58 patients admitted to the hospital
98 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 9, 2021
87 patients admitted to the hospital
101 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 8, 2021
115 patients admitted to the hospital
106 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 7, 2021
68 patients admitted to the hospital
100 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 6, 2021
94 patients admitted to the hospital
105 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 5, 2021
136 patients admitted to the hospital
100 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 4, 2021
127 patients admitted to the hospital
99 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 3, 2021
83 patients admitted to the hospital
98 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

May 2, 2021
116 patients admitted to the hospital
104 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

Patients Currently Hospitalized for COVID-19

May 11, 2021
684 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
631 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
53 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 10, 2021
703 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
653 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
50 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 9, 2021
713 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
664 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
49 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 8, 2021
731 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
679 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
52 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 7, 2021
722 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
667 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
55 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 6, 2021
713 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
661 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
52 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 5, 2021
706 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
666 (94 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
40 (6 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 4, 2021
693 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
639 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
54 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

May 3, 2021
679 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
631 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
48 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

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

In the hours after Polis's May 11 press conference, his office issued his "update on Colorado." For most of the past year, this email blast has been dubbed a summary of "Colorado's COVID-19 response," and the name change seems purposeful; the governor is now presenting the novel coronavirus as one of many challenges facing the state as opposed to the dominant one, in order to suggest that the end of the pandemic is near. And indeed, vaccination stats for older Coloradans are impressive: 76 percent of 60-69-year-olds have received their first dose; 63 percent are fully vaccinated; 85 percent of those seventy-plus are past dose number one; and 76 percent are fully vaccinated.

Now comes the hard part — convincing younger citizens that they need to be inoculated, as well. If too many of them resist, the state's COVID-19 data could continue to be mediocre for weeks, if not months, to come.
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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