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COVID-19: Feared Post-Thanksgiving Mega-Spike Didn't Happen

COVID-19: Feared Post-Thanksgiving Mega-Spike Didn't Happen
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Vaccine delivery aside, there hasn't been much good news recently regarding the COVID-19 crisis in Colorado and beyond — but at least the latest news isn't nearly as bad as anticipated. Fresh data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that while cases, hospitalizations and deaths related to the novel coronavirus remain well above viral low points recorded over the summer, they didn't surge over the Thanksgiving holiday by as much as officials had feared, offering hope for the upcoming yuletide season.

Here are the latest figures in major categories as updated by the CDPHE on the evening of December 13, juxtaposed with stats from one week earlier:

288,193 cases (up 27,612 from December 6)
16,126 hospitalized (up 1,258 from December 6)
64 counties (unchanged from December 6)
3,958 deaths among cases (up 502 from December 6)
3,012 deaths due to COVID-19 (up 288 from December 6)
2,614 outbreaks (up 228 from December 6)

Four major takeaways:

• The 27,612 increase in COVID-19 cases from December 6 to December 13 is considerably lower than the bump from the previous week of 31,809.
• The same is true of hospitalizations; the December 6-13 climb of 1,258 falls short of the 1,440 recorded between November 29 and December 5.
• Unfortunately, both deaths among cases and deaths due to COVID-19 are up markedly, with the former rising from 453 to 502 and the latter leaping from 203 to 288 in a week's time. But even this uptick is less severe than seemed likely, given the other statistics. 
• New outbreaks have slowly been moving downward, and given that the 228 additions to the list over the week represent a slower pace than that of the previous week, which notched 250, that trend seems to be continuing.

The cases of COVID-19 by the date reported to Colorado officials aren't radically lower than those of the previous period, but they represent a modest decline. This is a snapshot from the prior ten days:

December 12 — 2,478
December 11 — 3,521
December 10 — 3,778
December 9 — 4,576
December 8 — 3,483
December 7 — 3,990
December 6 — 4,079
December 5 — 3,521
December 4 — 4,444
December 3 — 5,220

Colorado's seven-day average positivity rate, defined 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," looks better, too. The 8.91 percent state rate as of December 13 is still well above the 5 percent mark identified as a warning sign by the World Health Organization, but it's way down from the 12.17 percent recorded on December 6. And outpatient syndromic COVID-19 visits, which had skyrocketed to 20.85 percent on November 29, are now sitting at 6.35 percent, a reduction of more than two-thirds.

The number of patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19 has either dipped or remained fairly steady for the second week in a row, and admissions have moderated. On December 6, new admissions were calculated at 129; on December 13, another 141 patients checked in.

Here are stats related to these metrics over ten-day periods:

Patients Currently Hospitalized for COVID-19

December 13, 2020
1,610 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,513 (94 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
97 (6 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 12, 2020
1,607 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,514 (94 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
93 (6 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 11, 2020
1,675 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,559 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
116 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 10, 2020
1,659 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,545 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
114 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 9, 2020
1,684 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,565 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
119 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 8, 2020
1,755 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,629 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
126 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 7, 2020
1,779 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,643 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
136 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 6, 2020
1,750 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,633 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
117 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 5, 2020
1,812 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,685 (93 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
127 (7 percent) Persons Under Investigation

December 4, 2020
1,883 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,740 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
143 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

New Hospital Admissions by Admission Date

December 13, 2020
141 patients admitted to the hospital
200 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 12, 2020
136 patients admitted to the hospital
204 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 11, 2020
230 patients admitted to the hospital
221 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 10, 2020
242 patients admitted to the hospital
226 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 9, 2020
167 patients admitted to the hospital
228 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 8, 2020
252 patients admitted to the hospital
242 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 7, 2020
233 patients admitted to the hospital
251 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 6, 2020
171 patients admitted to the hospital
266 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 5, 2020
254 patients admitted to the hospital
278 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

December 4, 2020
264 patients admitted to the hospital
282 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

To be clear, the current stats are hardly cause for celebration — but context is important. With two weeks having passed since Thanksgiving weekend, we could be seeing a mega-spike right now...and such an event simply hasn't materialized.

Why not? Perhaps fewer Coloradans took part in big family gatherings to mark the holiday. Maybe people got more serious about wearing masks in public, maintaining a physical distance between others and avoiding congregate settings involving individuals from different households. For whatever reason, the state appears to have dodged the worst-case scenario this time around.

Now, an even bigger challenge — Christmas — awaits.

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