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Denver Health as seen from the air.
Denver Health as seen from the air.
YouTube file photo

COVID-19: Colorado Positivity Rate Creeping Up After Labor Day

Colorado continues to hold its own against COVID-19. The latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health shows a steady pattern in the most important metrics. But a handful of warning signs, including an upward creep in positivity rates prior to the planned closure of Denver's most popular and accessible testing site, hints at just how fragile the current stability could prove to be.

Here are updated numbers in several major categories as of 4 p.m. yesterday, September 13, supplemented with the September 7 figures from our previous roundup:

61,324 cases (up 1,837 from September 7)
7,227 hospitalized (up 85 from September 7)
63 counties (unchanged since September 7)
1,988 deaths among cases (up 15 from September 7)
1,889 deaths due to COVID-19 (up 23 from September 7)
660 outbreaks (up 29 from September 7)

And these are the daily new case counts over the previous ten days:

September 12 — 388
September 11 — 307
September 10 — 305
September 9 — 221
September 8 — 297
September 7 — 178
September 6 — 237
September 5 — 265
September 4 — 312
September 3 — 388

The 388 cases reported on September 12 are higher than any daily totals in late August and early September, but the overall total isn't alarming. The per-day average over the latest ten days stands at 266.1 cases, versus 265.5 for the period noted for the previous ten days.

The state positivity rate of 3.04 percent per 100,000 people isn't as easy to dismiss. The figure is still well below the 5 percent mark identified as problematic by public health officials, but it's bumped up substantially from the 1.78 percent on September 7, which represented the lowest positivity rate since the pandemic began.

Moreover, the positivity rate generally goes down if the amount of testing goes up — and the current level may become more difficult to maintain, given the September 11 announcement that the City and County of Denver "will begin transitioning from the large-scale COVID-19 testing offered at Pepsi Center to expanded community-based testing sites after September 30." In the meantime, the number of lanes for test subjects there has been reduced from eight to four.

Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, insists that testing "at a community level in highly impacted and underserved neighborhoods" will be more effective at this point. But it's also likely that the overall volume of testing in the metro area will fall off once the Pepsi Center closes, since people will have to seek out new locations for a free analysis. (Click for information about sites in Denver and other nearby counties.)

Stats related to hospitalizations tend to lag behind other numbers, since COVID-19 symptoms may not be serious enough to require care at a medical facility for up to two weeks after infection. As a result, the following figures for new hospital admissions over the most recent ten-day period don't indicate whether a post-Labor Day boost is in the offing; instead, they show a plateau:

September 12, 2020
11 patients admitted to the hospital
16 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 11, 2020
23 patients admitted to the hospital
18 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 10, 2020
16 patients admitted to the hospital
17 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 9, 2020
13 patients admitted to the hospital
16 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 8, 2020
21 patients admitted to the hospital
17 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 7, 2020
11 patients admitted to the hospital
18 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 6, 2020
16 patients admitted to the hospital
19 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 5, 2020
29 patients admitted to the hospital
19 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 4, 2020
15 patients admitted to the hospital
18 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

September 3, 2020
10 patients admitted to the hospital
18 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

These stats reflect overall hospitalizations:

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

September 10, 2020
240 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
141 (58.75 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
99 (41.25 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 9, 2020
226 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
141 (62.39 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
85 (37.61 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 8, 2020
218 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
137 (62.84 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
81 (37.16 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 7, 2020
237 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
139 (58.65 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
98 (41.35 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 6, 2020
227 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
146 (64.32 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
81 (35.68 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 5, 2020
220 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
139 (63.18 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
81 (36.82 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 4, 2020
219 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
132 (60.27 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
87 (39.73 percent) Persons Under Investigation

And more good news: The number of Colorado schools and colleges with positive COVID-19 cases as of late last week was reportedly at 28 — significantly lower than the forty from a week earlier. Yet Governor Jared Polis isn't taking a victory lap. Over the weekend, as he'd teased during a press conference on September 11, he extended the statewide mask order for another thirty days.

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