Colorado hits peak Omicron as COVID cases begin decline
Colorado is starting to see coronavirus cases decline, an indication to public health experts that Omicron has reached its peak.
Why it matters: The COVID-19 variant led to the sharpest spike in case rates in the two-year pandemic and put hospitals on the brink of crisis.
What's happening: The seven-day moving average of cases dipped by nearly 1,000 cases, according to state data, as did the positivity rate. Hospitalizations have roughly plateaued.
- "It looks like cases have peaked in Colorado," state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy told John on Wednesday.
Yes, but: We're not out of the woods yet. The number of cases and hospitalizations remains elevated and troubling.
- "It's important to recognize that the hospital numbers as they are right now are still extremely high — much higher than what we saw for most of the pandemic," Herlihy cautioned. "And the case numbers are still well above what we've previously experienced."
Between the lines: The emerging trend is not yet reflected in the two-week data rates shown in the chart above, but even those figures illustrate an improvement from recent weeks.
The big picture: The Omicron wave is receding in other parts of the country, particularly the East Coast, but not everywhere, meaning it won't vanish right away, Axios' Tina Reed reports.
- "In this country as a whole, it might take a while longer to resolve this surge," in comparison to South Africa or the U.K., said Dan Barouch, director of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's virology and vaccine research.
What's next: If there is no variant immediately following Omicron, we could be in for a "fairly benign period where it will be appropriate to live life more normally" this spring, said Bob Wachter, chair of the University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine.
- But, he said, "over the past two years, if we've learned nothing else, it's that this virus surprises us and there [is] always the possibility of new factors and curveballs."
Colorado officials say the next step is tracking when hospitals will get some relief.
- Herlihy said she is looking at the data from other places but "unfortunately there's no single clear pattern."
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