Coronavirus

Delta Variant Cases Increasing in More Than Half of Colorado

A drone's eye view of Lakewood in Jefferson County, whose Delta variant count has gone from two to seventeen over the past nine days.
A drone's eye view of Lakewood in Jefferson County, whose Delta variant count has gone from two to seventeen over the past nine days. YouTube
Over fifteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Coloradans are desperately trying to get back to normal — and state officials are doing their best to enhance that process. This week, for instance, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued an amended order for July that lifts capacity restrictions for events attended by more than 2,000 people, and eliminates mask requirements for vaccinated individuals twelve and over at schools.

But the fly in the ointment is the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, which is more dangerous and transmissible than the original disease and now accounts for the vast majority of new COVID-19 infections statewide. Over the past nine days, the Delta variant has gained a foothold in thirteen more counties. That brings the total number of Colorado counties in which the strain (technically known as B.1.617.2) has been confirmed to 36 of 64 — well over half, including every major population center.

Moreover, case counts in most of the counties where the Delta variant had previously been detected have increased, often by a lot. Some have doubled, others have tripled, and the count in Jefferson County is more than eight times higher than it was just over a week ago, going from two to seventeen.

In "COVID-19 Delta Variant: Places Where It's Spreading in Colorado," we listed CDPHE Delta variant case amounts in the 23 counties where it had been documented as of June 23. While many of the counties had totals in the single digits, the department stresses that variant case percentages are based on "a small sampling of positive COVID-19 tests" and don't account for all new infections in the state. For the week of June 20, the Delta variant was estimated to account for 73.12 percent of newly reported COVID-19 cases in Colorado.

The statistics for today, July 2, show thirteen more counties with at least one authenticated Delta variant case — and some of the counties that were officially free of the strain on June 23 added many more than that. Delta and Gunnison counties went from zero to seven, Conejos jumped from zero to nine, and Pueblo escalated from zero to ten.

While the case counts in some counties was unchanged from June 23 to July 2, others saw gains by multiples of two or more, including Larimer (from two to nine), Fremont (from three to twelve), Montrose (from three to thirteen), Arapahoe (from twelve to thirty) and Moffat (from eighteen to forty). And the counties with the most cases as of June 23 are in much worse shape on July 2. El Paso's Delta variant total has gone from 103 to 237, and Mesa's leaped from 218 to 418.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are reported to be highly effective against the Delta variant. But according to the CDPHE's data dashboard, only 51 percent of eligible El Paso residents have gotten their first dose of vaccine, and Mesa's pace is even lower, at 45.2 percent.

Here are the 36 Colorado counties where the Delta variant has been located, listed in ascending order by the July 2 numbers; they're accompanied by the June 23 totals, plus updated one-dose vaccination rates:

Alamosa County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2
Vaccination level: 55.4 percent on July 2

Elbert County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2
Vaccination level: 44.2 percent on July 2

Gilpin County
0 Delta variant cases on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2
Vaccination level: 59.7 percent on July 2

Grand County
0 Delta variant cases on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2
Vaccination level: 62.7 percent on July 2

La Plata County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2
Vaccination level: 66.3 percent on July 2

Logan County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2
Vaccination level: 33.6 percent on July 2

Summit County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2
Vaccination level: 81.7 percent on July 2

Bent County

1 Delta variant case on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2 (unchanged)
Vaccination level: 26 percent on July 2

Pitkin County

1 Delta variant case on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2 (unchanged)
Vaccination level: 79.7 percent on July 2

Routt County

1 Delta variant case on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2 (unchanged)
Vaccination level: 73.6 percent on July 2

Sedgwick County

1 Delta variant case on June 23
1 Delta variant case on July 2 (unchanged)
Vaccination level: 47.4 percent on July 2

Archuleta County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
2 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 55.2 percent on July 2

Eagle County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
2 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 75.3 percent on July 2

Saguache County

1 Delta variant case on June 23
2 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 39 percent on July 2

Teller County

1 Delta variant case on June 23
2 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 49.8 percent on July 2

San Miguel County

3 Delta variant cases on June 23
3 Delta variant cases on July 2 (unchanged)
Vaccination level: 84.1 percent on July 2

Las Animas County

2 Delta variant cases on June 23
4 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 55.6 percent on July 2

Delta County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
7 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 43 percent on July 2

Gunnison County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
7 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 71.7 percent on July 2

Rio Blanco County

1 Delta variant case on June 23
7 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 35 percent on July 2

Conejos County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
9 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 46.2 percent on July 2

Larimer County

2 Delta variant cases on June 23
9 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 66.5 percent on July 2

Pueblo County

0 Delta variant cases on June 23
10 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 52.8 percent on July 2

Denver County

6 Delta variant cases on June 23
10 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 72.6 percent on July 2

Fremont County

3 Delta variant cases on June 23
12 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 37.4 percent on July 2

Montrose County

3 Delta variant cases on June 23
13 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 45 percent on July 2

Weld County

6 Delta variant cases on June 23
13 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 54 percent on July 2

Boulder County

12 Delta variant cases on June 23
16 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 76.9 percent on July 2

Jefferson County

2 Delta variant cases on June 23
17 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 71.3 percent on July 2

Adams County

10 Delta variant cases on June 23
19 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 62.4 percent on July 2

Douglas County

20 Delta variant cases on June 23
28 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 69.7 percent on July 2

Arapahoe County

12 Delta variant cases on June 23
30 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 66.5 percent on July 2

Moffat County

18 Delta variant cases on June 23
40 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 38.2 percent on July 2

Garfield County

27 Delta variant cases on June 23
44 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 60.1 percent on July 2

El Paso County

103 Delta variant cases on June 23
237 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 51 percent on July 2

Mesa County

218 Delta variant cases on June 23
418 Delta variant cases on July 2
Vaccination level: 45.2 percent on July 2
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts