Jan 27, 2022 - COVID

COVID-19 outbreak hits Colorado's COVID-19 lab

Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Omicron is still leading to major COVID-19 outbreaks, even as the pandemic trend lines in Colorado are improving.

Driving the news: One of the largest new outbreaks β€” at 34 people β€” is at the state laboratory, where 15% of Colorado's coronavirus tests are processed, new data released Wednesday shows.

  • Another eight cases were reported on the state public health agency's rapid response team that tests and vaccinates homeless and incarcerated populations.

What they're saying: Officials downplayed the impact. "We have a large pool of contracted staff who can provide backup, so the outbreak has not affected our ability to test or vaccinate," Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesperson Kristen Stewart told Axios.

By the numbers: Colorado reported 133 outbreaks in the week ending Wednesday, totaling more than 1,400 infections.

  • So far this year, the state has recorded 641 outbreaks and nearly 8,800 cases.
  • Amazon's warehouses in Adams County have been particularly hard hit with 12 outbreaks and more than 500 cases in a week's span.

Zoom in: Denver is amplifying its efforts to encourage booster shots as a key preventative measure against Omicron.

What's happening: The city's public health agency recently hired two nurses who can administer vaccines at clinics and reduce the need to work with partner organizations.

  • "Having our own clinical staff gives us flexibility," Tori Burket, the city's new epidemiologist and disease prevention manager, told John.
  • In addition, the city is focusing on communities of color and preparing a new marketing campaign for later this spring related to booster doses.

The big picture: Denver's infection rate is declining, mirroring state trends after reaching more than 20% β€” "an insane" positivity rate, Burket said.

  • Right now it sits near 19% – which is still higher than the notable peak in fall of 2020. The goal is to stay below 5%.

What's next: The city's mandate for face coverings indoors expires Feb. 3, but may get extended, officials said.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.

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