COVID-related hospitalizations in Colorado rose again Wednesday, reaching a level last seen in mid-February, while increasing coronavirus outbreaks also pointed to wider spread of the virus.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 450 people were hospitalized statewide with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon. The last time that many people were in the hospital because of the virus was Feb. 19.
While hospitalizations are still stable or heading downward in most parts of the state, four counties saw them increase in at least half of the days in the last two weeks: Larimer, Adams, Pueblo and Douglas. In Pueblo, hospitalizations increased 11 of the last 14 days.
COVID-19 hospitalizations had fallen from early December through February, plateaued for most of March and started rising again this week. While experts don’t think hospitals are in any danger of running out of space, a relatively steep increase is an unwelcome sign that vaccines haven’t chased the virus out of Colorado so far.
Active coronavirus outbreaks also increased, rising about 8% in the past week, according to state data released Wednesday. That brings them back to about the same level seen in mid-March, ending a 15-week streak of decreases.
The number of school-based outbreaks decreased, but those linked to child care facilities, restaurants, bars and manufacturing facilities went up. An outbreak is two or more cases tied to the same location or event, and four weeks have to pass with no new cases before it is deemed over.
“As cases have risen throughout the state in recent weeks, we have also seen an increase in the number of reported outbreaks,” Jessica Bralish, director of communications for the state health department, said in a news release. “We encourage Coloradans to get tested if they exhibit symptoms or suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19. Testing allows the state to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and helps us mitigate outbreaks and increased disease transmission.”
The trajectory of cases was less clear than that of outbreaks and hospitalizations as of Wednesday. In the week ending Sunday, cases hit a level last seen in late January. Monday and Tuesday’s combined numbers are slightly lower than they were a week ago, but the relatively high percentage of tests coming back positive raises questions about whether the state is missing infections.
So far, three counties have had to increase restrictions because of rising case counts. Jefferson County announced Wednesday that it will move from Level Blue to the more restrictive Level Yellow on the state’s dial framework Friday. Most businesses will be limited to 50% of capacity, and bars that don’t serve food will have to close again.
Summit and Pitkin counties recently moved to the even more restrictive Level Orange, which limits most businesses to 25% of capacity, because their case counts had gotten too high.
Jefferson County Public Health attributed the need to move up a level to an increase in cases in adults under 40, as well as outbreaks in schools, offices and retail businesses.
“Unfortunately we are slipping in the wrong direction, and we have seen an increase in the COVID-19 case incidence rate, test positivity rate and hospitalizations in Jeffco,” Dawn Comstock, executive director of Jefferson County Public Health, said in a news release. “None of us want to go backwards on the dial after all of the hard work we’ve put in and sacrifices we’ve made. I urge everyone to stay committed to COVID-19 prevention actions — wear your mask, keep six feet (of) distance and avoid gatherings.”
This content was originally published here.