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COVID Data Worsens Again as Restrictions Loosen

Dr. Rachel Herlihy is the State of Colorado's lead epidemiologist.
Dr. Rachel Herlihy is the State of Colorado's lead epidemiologist.
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Colorado is now in its fourth day since COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed. And once again, the state metrics tracked by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have gotten worse by almost every major measure.

On Friday, April 16, the dial dashboard maintained by the CDPHE transitioned from compulsory to advisory, putting counties in charge of overseeing most safety protocols related to the novel coronavirus. As a result, Denver and most metro counties moved to Level Blue even if their case counts were higher, and Douglas County essentially tossed all the rules it could, even though it remains in Level Red territory.

Oh, yeah: As of today, April 19, Denver is technically at Level Red, with a two-week cumulative incidence rate of 359.8 per 100,000 people — above the 350 threshold that marks entry into this zone.

Here are the most recent statewide figures from the CDPHE, refreshed after 4 p.m. yesterday, April 18. We've juxtaposed them with information from April 11, highlighted in our last COVID-19 roundup:

490,289 cases (up 11,611 from April 11)
2,051 variants of concern (up 435 from April 11)
62 variants under investigation (up 31 from April 11)
26,836 hospitalized (up 562 from April 11)
64 counties (unchanged from April 11)
6,199 deaths among cases (up 42 from April 11)
6,330 deaths due to COVID-19 (up 34 from April 11)
4,620 outbreaks (up 154 from April 11)

Four major takeaways:

• On April 11, new Colorado cases of COVID-19 exceeded 10,000 over a seven-day span for the first time since the week ending January 24, hitting 10,557. On April 18, they're now at 11,611, more than a thousand cases higher.
• New hospitalizations are climbing again, too. The April 18 rise of 562 is up by more than 10 percent from the 508 registered a week earlier.
• New outbreak increases had been in the double-digit range for months before reaching 138 on April 11. Seven days later, the number is 154.
• The only figure above that's heading in the right direction is tied to the most important one: deaths attributed to COVID-19. The April 18 total is 34, down from 43 on April 11.

Too bad variants of concern — 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" — display no such evidence of improvement. On April 18, variant cases of concern totaled 2,051, more than 400 above the 1,616 tallied on April 11. And case of variants under investigation jumped twofold, from 31 on April 11 to 62 on April 18.

Moreover, the department acknowledges that those numbers "are based on a small sampling of positive COVID-19 tests and do not represent the total number of variant cases that may be circulating in Colorado." During an April 9 press conference, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Colorado's lead epidemiologist, confirmed that variants now represent the majority of new COVID-19 cases in the state.

The number of daily COVID-19 cases also continue to be in the problematic range. Nine of the past ten days have seen hikes of more than 1,000, as seen in the following rundown:

April 17 — 1,112 Cases
April 16 — 1,345 Cases
April 15 — 1,829 Cases
April 14 — 1,492 Cases
April 13 — 1,719 Cases
April 12 — 1,653 Cases
April 11 — 961 Cases
April 10 — 1,343 Cases
April 9 — 1,634 Cases
April 8 — 1,841 Cases

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 close to static — and still too high. The 6.63 percent on April 18 compares to 6.64 percent on April 11 — and officials consider anything over 5 percent to be an indication that not enough people are getting tested, thereby potentially allowing infected individuals to spread the virus more widely.

The hospitalization stats are lousier still. The 552 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms yesterday, April 18, is the most since 564 on February 5. Likewise, the 95 new admissions on April 14 was the highest since 96 on February 17. More details:

Patients Currently Hospitalized for COVID-19

April 18, 2021
552 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
509 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
43 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 17, 2021
564 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
520 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
44 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 16, 2021
551 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
500 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
51 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 15, 2021
541 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
488 (90 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
53 (10 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 14, 2021
513 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
469 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
44 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 13, 2021
494 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
439 (89 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
55 (11 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 12, 2021
470 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
429 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
41 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 11, 2021
465 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
421 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
44 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 10, 2021
460 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
417 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
43 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

April 9, 2021
454 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
404 (89 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
50 (11 percent) Persons Under Investigation

New Hospital Admissions by Admission Date

April 18, 2021
32 patients admitted to the hospital
73 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 17, 2021
67 patients admitted to the hospital
79 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 16, 2021
84 patients admitted to the hospital
82 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 15, 2021
88 patients admitted to the hospital
80 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 14, 2021
95 patients admitted to the hospital
80 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 13, 2021
83 patients admitted to the hospital
80 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 12, 2021
65 patients admitted to the hospital
80 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 11, 2021
72 patients admitted to the hospital
84 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 10, 2021
86 patients admitted to the hospital
80 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

April 9, 2021
71 patients admitted to the hospital
70 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

One more thing: On April 13, Governor Jared Polis bristled at the suggestion that the state had ended its mask mandate, saying that the press had "inaccurately characterized" his latest amendment, signed on April 3 and in effect for the next thirty days. It stated that Colorado would "continue to require mask-wearing for all counties in schools (including extracurricular activities), child care centers, indoor children’s camps, public-facing state government facilities, emergency medical and other healthcare settings, personal services and limited healthcare settings...[and] congregate care facilities, prisons and jails."

Nonetheless, continued confusion is understandable: Earlier today, the document linked on the state's mask guidance page showed a date of March 5 and stated that it was set to expire thirty days later. We reached out to Polis's office and the CDPHE to ask about this apparent oversight, and the department has now updated the link with the proper order. Click to read it.

This post was updated to reflect that the CDPHE has now posted the state's most recent mask mandate.

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