Coronavirus

Stealth Omicron and Other Variants Rising in Colorado

Outside Rose Medical Center.
Outside Rose Medical Center. Google Maps
The latest COVID-19 update from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that while the case count has risen, it's at a manageable pace, and the rate of deaths related to the disease has slowed. But statistics also indicate that Omicron 2, the so-called stealth version of the mutation that caused an enormous spike in infections earlier this year, is spreading more widely in the state, and other thus-far unnamed variants could be gaining a foothold, too.

Here are the current COVID numbers in major categories, as updated by the CDPHE after 4 p.m. April 6, along with information from our previous COVID data roundup, which drew from March 23 statistics.

1,352,256 cases (up 15,148 from March 23)
28,082 variants of concern (down 11 from March 23)
64 counties (unchanged from March 23)
61,558 hospitalized (up 337 from March 23)
11,982 deaths among cases (up 40 from March 23)
13,027 deaths due to COVID-19 (up 97 from March 23)
8,519 outbreaks (up 26 from March 23)

Four takeaways:

• Cases increased by 10,717 in the nine days between March 14 and March 23. The 15,148 counted in the fourteen days between March 23 and April 6 breaks down to a very similar case-per-day average.

• The same is true for new hospitalizations: 249 from March 14-23, compared to 337 from March 23-April 6.

• Fresh outbreaks flagged substantially. Just 26 have been identified in the two weeks since March 23; from March 14-23, the CDPHE identified 47.

• An even larger drop in COVID fatalities constitutes the best news here. The total of 97 deaths from March 23-April 6 is much lower than the 223 from March 14-23.

Daily reports of COVID cases over the past ten days are also in the same range as those posted by the CDPHE for the ten prior days, vacillating between a low of 165 on April 3 and a high of 400 on April 1. Here's the rundown:

April 5 — 347 Cases
April 4 — 344 Cases
April 3 — 165 Cases
April 2 — 277 Cases
April 1 — 400 Cases
March 31 — 425 Cases
March 30 — 396 Cases
March 29 — 309 Cases
March 28 — 269 Cases
March 27 — 214 Cases

During the week of March 6, the CDPHE reported that 100 percent of the samples it sequenced were linked to what is now known as Omicron 1. But by the week of March 13, Omicron 2 accounted for 30.30 percent of the samples, with Omicron 1 making up the remaining 69.70 percent. For the week of March 20, the most recent for which statistics are available, Omicron 2 rose to 35.71 percent, while Omicron 1 fell to 62.50 percent. The remaining 1.79 percent wasn't connected to previously known variants such as Delta; it's simply labeled "other."

Additional details about these samples are not yet available, but other variants and subvariants are indeed cropping up worldwide. For example, XE, described as a cross between Omicron 1 and Omicron 2, has been found in the United Kingdom over recent days. Thus far, however, experts don't believe such mutations are any deadlier than the other types of Omicron with which the world has been dealing for months.

Colorado's positivity rate currently sits at 3.36 percent, up from 2.66 percent on March 23. The rise suggests a decline in testing, but isn't large enough to raise alarms with state health officials. Moreover, the number of patients hospitalized for COVID in the state for the week of April 5 calculates to 80 per day, well below the weekly estimate of 135 for the week of March 22.

As for daily admissions of new COVID patients, they've been at twenty or fewer for the past ten days. The details:

April 5, 2022
12 patients admitted to the hospital
16 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

April 4, 2022
12 patients admitted to the hospital
17 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

April 3, 2022
12 patients admitted to the hospital
18 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

April 2, 2022
18 patients admitted to the hospital
18 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

April 1, 2022
16 patients admitted to the hospital
17 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

March 31, 2022
24 patients admitted to the hospital
17 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

March 30, 2022
16 patients admitted to the hospital
16 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

March 29, 2022
18 patients admitted to the hospital
17 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

March 28, 2022
20 patients admitted to the hospital
19 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

March 27, 2022
11 patients admitted to the hospital
18 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

The CDPHE isn't concerned that 46 percent of those hospitalized have been vaccinated, since the number of residents inoculated is so high; 77.3 percent of all eligible Coloradans, including children, have received at least one shot, and 69.3 percent are considered fully immunized. But the state's vaccine data dashboard indicates that a declining number of folks are rolling up their sleeves. During the two weeks leading up to April 5, another 8,709 residents earned full immunization status, while 7,599 hit that mark during the nine days from March 13 to 22. The updated stats:

3,990,543 people fully immunized in Colorado (up 8,709 from March 22)
4,447,071 people immunized with at least one dose (up 8,535 from March 22)
91 people vaccinated on April 5 with Pfizer vaccine (down 29 from March 22); 496 immunizations with Pfizer vaccine reported April 5 but administered on an earlier date (down 1,339 from March 22)
792 people immunized on April 5 with Moderna vaccine (up 199 from March 22); 2,507 immunizations with Moderna vaccine reported April 5 but administered on an earlier date (up 1,745 from March 22)
13 people vaccinated on April 5 with Janssen (J&J) vaccine (down 7 from March 22); 69 immunizations with Janssen vaccine reported April 5 but administered on an earlier date (up 1 from March 22)

While the state seems to have a winning hand right now in handling COVID-19, Omicron 2 and those other variants represent wild cards.
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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