Oct 14, 2021 - COVID
Colorado hits new COVID milestones amid fifth wave
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Colorado topped 8,000 deaths linked to COVID-19, and hospitalizations are at their highest point this year as a fifth wave goes unabated.

By the numbers: Colorado stands out nationwide as one of only nine states experiencing increasing rates through Oct. 12.

  • More than 1,000 people are hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
  • More than 400 deaths have occurred since the fifth wave crested in September, the Denver Gazette reports, with unvaccinated people dying at a higher rate.

What they're saying: On Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis called the elevated rates "scary" but told Axios Denver that he has no plans to implement additional mandates or restrictions, such as a mask requirement or closures of any kind.

  • Pressed on the issue, he downplayed the state's trajectory, calling it "a relatively high plateau" and less serious than spikes in other states.
  • "The simplest thing we can do to end this threat is get vaccinated," Polis said.

Yes, but: Doctors continue to support a mask mandate. Speaking at a briefing with the governor, Sean O'Leary, an infectious disease specialist at Children's Hospital, endorsed mask mandates.

  • "It's very clear, both across the country and in Colorado, that having mask requirements — for example within school districts — is associated with far fewer outbreaks," he said. "We've seen that over and over and over again."

Context: Polis said the "north star" number is hospital capacity and the figure is not at a worrisome level.

  • 88% of the state's hospital beds are currently full, state data shows.

Of note: Tracking with national trends, Colorado is giving more COVID-19 booster shots than first doses to unvaccinated people.

  • Polis said the number of people seeking booster shots is three times greater, and called the situation "wonderful."
Data: CDC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios
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