Colorado’s COVID cases rising; Durango public health sounds alarm

 Colorado’s COVID cases rising; Durango public health sounds alarm

COVID-19 cases in Colorado continue to rise, and a public health agency has warned its constituents that they need to reconsider caution.

San Juan Basin Public Health, which serves La Plata and Archuleta counties, urges residents to make sure they are updated on their vaccines and boosters, and to consider masking the public if they are at a higher risk of severe COVID-19.

Durango garbage virus concentrations doubled in 16 days, to levels seen in early February, the department said in a news release.

While fewer people are more susceptible to severe disease than ever before, it’s a good idea to take some precautions if cases rise, said Talia Quandelacy, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health.

“Infection prevention is still important, because of the potential long -term consequences,” he said.

Data from the state wastewater monitoring dashboard shows virus levels comparable to late December, when the omicron variant began removal, in Boulder, Broomfield and the Platte/Central system, serving in much of Denver and eastern Jefferson County.

The wastewater data explains that infections are on the rise, but it’s not accurate to say that the same number of people in Durango are infected now as they were in February, according to Quandelacy.

Because infected people shed the virus in their feces even when they have no symptoms, wastewater testing captures infections in untested people. But it’s also a “snapshot,” and can change as people visit and leave a community, he said.

“It’s useful to use as a proxy for having a lot of people infected,” he said.

Statewide, cases rose about 31% compared to the previous week, with 7,299 confirmed new COVID-19 infections reported in the week ended Sunday.

The percentage of tests that returned positive also continued to increase. Colorado’s positivity rate averaged 7.45% in the week ended Tuesday. Even if that’s not as bad as the worst point in January, it indicates that the state may not have a complete picture of how widespread the virus is.

Active outbreaks of Colorado nursing homes and assisted living facilities, which have been bellwethers in previous waves, rose from 33, to 98. That erased about a month and a half of growth. Epidemics have declined in schools, however, and have remained strong in other circumstances.

Hospitalizations for people with COVID-19 in Colorado rose only slightly, however, from 110 last week to 116 on Tuesday. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updates hospitalization data once a week, making it difficult to look at patterns.

Colorado is lucky that the hospitalizations are not as rapid, as they are in some northeastern states, Quandelacy said. It’s unclear if that’s because of some difference in who is infected – whether the virus happens to hit unvaccinated people or those who haven’t been bred in some areas – or if it appears to be a variant of BA. 2.12.1 is more widespread there.

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