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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is rampant in Colorado, but Gov. Jared Polis dismissed the need for new public health restrictions to stop its spread.

Why it matters: The variant first discovered in India now comprises 9 of 10 cases in Colorado, well above the national average.

  • Case counts increased more than 20% in two weeks and deaths recently topped 7,000, according to the New York Times tracker.
  • Elsewhere, cities like Los Angeles and Austin are requiring or recommending masking to combat the Delta variant.

In a briefing Wednesday, Polis said that he would only consider mask requirements or other similar health protocols if the state's hospital systems are at risk of being overwhelmed.

  • His administration also says Colorado students and teachers won't need to wear masks when they return to school, even as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends them.
  • Polis' stance is in line with federal recommendations at the moment.

What he's saying: Polis said the state is not "focused as much on positive cases," and instead looks at hospitalization rates.

  • The current level "is not a threat," he said.
  • He said 96% of hospitalizations for COVID-19 are people who are not fully vaccinated.

Flashback: Polis declared an end to the pandemic July 8, lifting most public health emergency rules.

Of note: Colorado hit the 70% adult vaccination mark by July 4, but uptake of the vaccine since then has been slow. The state is now at 71%.

  • The state is partnering with Walmart to offer $100 gift cards to those who get vaccinated at certain sites. And community colleges are offering scholarships to students who get vaccinated.

Yes but: Similar incentives, such as the state's $1 million sweepstakes, have not made a major difference in vaccination rates.

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Go deeper

Denver rolls out its first vaccine mandates

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in November. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver is cracking its whip to boost citywide coronavirus vaccination rates.

Why it matters: Top state and local officials agree that thousands more residents need to get the jab — and now — if Coloradans want to avoid another devastating blow this fall and winter.

Updated Aug 3, 2021 - Economy & Business

More corporations are requiring workers to get vaccinated

Graphic: Axios Visuals

Life for the unvaccinated could get more difficult as bosses increasingly move to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.

The big picture: The federal Government in May said it is legal for companies to require employees to get vaccinated for coronavirus.

Obama plans birthday bash amid COVID concerns

President Obama waves while golfing on Martha's Vineyard in 2015. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama is hosting a 60th birthday bash for himself and hundreds of guests on Martha’s Vineyard this coming weekend amid heightened public health concerns — locally and nationally — about the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Why it matters: The recent breakthrough cases in nearby Provincetown, Massachusetts, after the July Fourth holiday showed the continued risk of spread even between vaccinated people — prompting new masking guidelines from the CDC.