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COVID-19 Update: Climbing Cases Raise Fears of Third Spike

Boulder Community Health is located at 4747 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder.
Boulder Community Health is located at 4747 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder.
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Updated COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment documents the highest average case counts in more than six weeks, raising the prospect of a third major spike since the beginning of the pandemic. This phenomenon is being driven by a handful of hot spots led by Boulder County, which registered more than 120 positive or probable cases of the novel coronavirus on a single day during the past week.

Here are the latest statewide stats, updated at 4 p.m. yesterday, September 20, juxtaposed with figures from September 13:

64,857 cases (up 3,533 from September 13)
7,363 hospitalized (up 136 from September 13)
63 counties (unchanged since September 13)
1,913 deaths from COVID-19 (up 24 since September 13)
2,014 deaths among cases (up 26 since September 13)
697 outbreaks (up 37 from September 13)

The increase in cases is mirrored by daily figures over a ten-day span starting September 10:

September 19 — 453 cases
September 18 — 505 cases
September 17 — 549 cases
September 16 — 481 cases
September 15 — 485 cases
September 14 — 423 cases
September 13 — 398 cases
September 12 — 437 cases
September 11 — 399 cases
September 10 — 355 cases

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The 549 new cases registered on September 17 are the most for a single day since the 586 counted on July 30. Likewise, the three-day average of cases on September 19, calculated at 502, is the highest since 517 on August 1, near the end of the second major spike that Colorado experienced. The two previous bumps and the recent rise are depicted in the following CDPHE graphic:

The updated September 20 graphic showing the three-day average of COVID-19 cases in Colorado since the start of the pandemic.EXPAND
The updated September 20 graphic showing the three-day average of COVID-19 cases in Colorado since the start of the pandemic.

Despite the big jump in positive cases, the state's positivity rate, which began creeping up after the Labor Day weekend, has moderated to some degree. It currently stands at 2.80 percent per 100,000 people, down 1.07 percent — a likely result of increased testing, which tends to drive positivity figures down. Moreover, hospitalization numbers remain fairly steady, as witnessed by the following tallies for new admissions and current hospitalizations over the most recent ten-day period available:

New Hospital Admissions by Admission Date

September 19, 2020
17 patients admitted to the hospital
19 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 18, 2020
22 patients admitted to the hospital
18 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 17, 2020
25 patients admitted to the hospital
19 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 16, 2020
18 patients admitted to the hospital
19 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 15, 2020
16 patients admitted to the hospital
18 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 14, 2020
26 patients admitted to the hospital
19 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 13, 2020
7 patients admitted to the hospital
17 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 12, 2020
15 patients admitted to the hospital
18 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 11, 2020
29 patients admitted to the hospital
21 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

Patients Currently Hospitalized for COVID-19

September 20, 2020
239 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
150 (62.76 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
89 (37.24 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 19, 2020
237 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
144 (60.76 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
93 (39.24 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 18, 2020
230 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
147 (63.91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
83 (36.09 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 17, 2020
213 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
138 (64.79 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
75 (35.21 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 16, 2020
248 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
134 (54.03 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
114 (45.97 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 15, 2020
274 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
139 (50.73 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
135 (49.27 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 14, 2020
239 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
138 (57.74 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
101 (42.26 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 13, 2020
228 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
136 (59.65 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
92 (40.35 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 12, 2020
226 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
136 (60.18 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
90 (39.82 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 11, 2020
232 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
142 (61.21 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
90 (38.79 percent) Persons Under Investigation 

The number of Colorado schools reporting positive COVID-19 cases is also fairly stable; over the past week, it bumped up by just two facilities, from 28 to 30. And while extending his Safer at Home order on September 19, Governor Jared Polis also moved last call for alcohol to midnight for counties that qualify as Safer Level 1 under the state's recently established COVID-19 dial metric, with both Douglas and Arapahoe counties among those that qualify. This approach exemplifies Polis's recent preference of tailoring orders for specific areas rather than putting forward mandates for the entire state.

The midnight last call is unlikely to go into effect in Boulder County anytime soon, given the ongoing stay-at-home recommendation for students, staff and faculty at the University of Colorado Boulder amid a rash of outbreaks, including five at Greek houses near the campus. At a September 18 press conference, Polis said that the challenge now is to prevent infections among students from spreading to the wider Boulder community — a prospect that could cause an even grimmer turn for future COVID-19 updates.

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