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Colorado COVID-19 Data Getting National Notice for Wrong Reasons

An aerial look at Grand Junction, population center of Mesa County, which is receiving national attention for rising case and hospitalization rates and a poor vaccination record.
An aerial look at Grand Junction, population center of Mesa County, which is receiving national attention for rising case and hospitalization rates and a poor vaccination record.
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In an MSNBC report early June 21, a representative of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention commenting on the odds of America immunizing 70 percent of eligible adults with at least one vaccine dose by July 4 — a goal set by President Joe Biden — pointed out that inoculation rates in pockets of the U.S. remain poor, leading to increases in both cases and hospitalizations. One of the locations singled out as most problematic was Mesa County, Colorado.

Mesa County's status as a national worst-case scenario is important to keep in mind when looking at the latest COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for the state as a whole. While many overall numbers are improving, they vary widely from place to place across the state, with locations such as Mesa County demonstrating that vaccine hesitancy can have very negative consequences.

Here are the most recent COVID-19 numbers from the CDPHE, refreshed after 4 p.m. on June 20, juxtaposed with information from June 13, highlighted in our last roundup:

553,868 cases (up 2,777 from June 13)
12,474 variants of concern (up 1,679 from June 13)
815 variants under investigation (down 101 from June 13)
31,171 hospitalized (up 276 from June 13)
64 counties (unchanged from June 13)
6,731 deaths among COVID-19 cases (up from 42 from June 13)
6,886 deaths due to COVID-19 (up from 42 from June 13)
5,480 outbreaks (up 15 from June 13)

Four major takeaways:

• New hospitalizations remain on a downward trajectory. They dropped from 327 in the week leading up to June 13 to 276 as of June 20.

• The rate of newly identified COVID-19 outbreaks is also dropping. The bump of fifteen on June 20 is considerably smaller than the 25 added on June 13 — but that's partly a consequence of the CDPHE changing the definition of an outbreak from two cases per setting to five in most instances.

• Deaths from COVID-19 are also down, from 76 on June 13 to 42 on June 20.

• New COVID-19 cases had risen from 3,700 in the seven days ending June 6 to 4,217 on June 13. But on June 20, they dropped to 2,777.

The daily COVID-19 case counts are moving in a similar direction. Only one day in the last ten registered more than 400 cases:
June 19 — 222 Cases
June 18 — 308 Cases
June 17 — 334 Cases
June 16 — 346 Cases
June 15 — 339 Cases
June 14 — 285 Cases
June 13 — 181 Cases
June 12 — 362 Cases
June 11 — 471 Cases
June 10 — 389 Cases

The state's positivity rate on June 20 inched lower, too; the 2.29 percent reading is better than the 2.69 percent registered on June 13. But variants — 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" — are being detected more frequently. The total of 1,679 variant cases added on June 20 was considerably higher than the 1,249 on June 13.

Hospitalizations are roughly stable. The seven-day average of 33 patients admitted to the hospital on June 20 compares to 35 on June 13. Since June 11, the number of individuals hospitalized for the disease has stayed below 400. Here's the latest:

New Hospital Admissions by Admission Date

June 20, 2021
41 patients admitted to the hospital
33 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

June 19, 2021
17 patients admitted to the hospital
29 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

June 18, 2021
19 patients admitted to the hospital
29 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

June 17, 2021
60 patients admitted to the hospital
34 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

June 16, 2021
30 patients admitted to the hospital
31 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

June 15, 2021
33 patients admitted to the hospital
33 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

June 14, 2021
30 patients admitted to the hospital
35 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

June 13, 2021
15 patients admitted to the hospital
35 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

June 12, 2021
16 patients admitted to the hospital
37 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

June 11, 2021
52 patients admitted to the hospital
41 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

Patients Currently Hospitalized for COVID-19

June 20, 2021
371 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
323 (87 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
48 (13 percent) Persons Under Investigation

June 19, 2021
364 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
314 (86 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
50 (14 percent) Persons Under Investigation

June 18, 2021
386 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
333 (86 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
53 (14 percent) Persons Under Investigation

June 17, 2021
379 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
345 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
34 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

June 16, 2021
372 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
330 (89 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
42 (11 percent) Persons Under Investigation

June 15, 2021
389 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
340 (87 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
49 (13 percent) Persons Under Investigation

June 14, 2021
371 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
326 (88 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
45 (12 percent) Persons Under Investigation

June 13, 2021
379 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
334 (88 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
45 (12 percent) Persons Under Investigation

June 12, 2021
384 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
340 (89 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
44 (11 percent) Persons Under Investigation

June 11, 2021
402 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
352 (88 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
50 (12 percent) Persons Under Investigation

But the vaccination rate remains a major concern. Here are the stats for June 19, the latest date available, from the state's vaccine data dashboard:

2,851,706 people fully immunized (up 95,457 from June 12)
3,177,686 people immunized with one dose (up 46,233 from June 12)
4,869 people vaccinated on June 19 with Pfizer vaccine (down 567 from June 12); 6,963 immunizations with Pfizer vaccine reported June 19 but administered on an earlier date (up 4,039 from June 12)
1,771 people immunized on June 19 with Moderna vaccine (down 26 from June 12); 2,483 immunizations with Moderna vaccine reported June 19 but administered on an earlier date (up 1,237 from June 12)
206 people vaccinated on June 19 with Janssen vaccine (up 51 from June 12); 288 immunizations with Janssen vaccine reported June 19 but administered on an earlier date (down 50 from June 12)

Virtually all of these rates have gotten worse in the last week, including new people fully immunized (dropped from 157,734 to 95,457), new people immunized with one dose (from 92,932 to 46,233), new people immunized with Pfizer (from 5,436 to 4,869), and new people immunized with Moderna (from 1,797 to 1,771). The primary exception involves inoculations with the Janssen (aka Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, which bumped up from a completely embarrassing 155 people on June 12 to a barely better 206 on June 19.

Of course, the rates are different in every Colorado county. Mesa County's COVID-19 data dashboard shows that only 39 percent of its residents are fully vaccinated right now, with only 421 people getting their first dose during the week of June 12. No wonder the county is getting the wrong kind of national attention.

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