Mar 23, 2022 - News

Colorado sees warning signs of COVID's staying power

Two-week change in COVID-19 levels detected in Colorado wastewater facilities
Data: CDC; Note: Facility locations are approximate; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Some of Colorado's most populated areas are seeing an increasing prevalence of COVID-19, a signal that the pandemic is not done with the state.

Threat level: The trend is evident in wastewater samples reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it coincides with a small uptick in positive case rates.

  • The wastewater facilities with increasing rates include the Denver metro area along with Boulder, Larimer, Summit and El Paso counties; the data was collected March 2-16 shows.
  • The concentrations — and case counts — remain well below the state's peaks.

Why it matters: The early detection systems in Colorado and across the U.S. indicate a surge of the more infectious Omicron BA.2 variant — similar to what Europe experienced — may be on its way, Axios' Tina Reed writes.

  • But public health authorities aren't getting a full picture because a hoped-for national early warning system remains a patchwork quilt.
  • Colorado is one of the leading states for wastewater detection, but it doesn't have recent data available for roughly a dozen utilities.

What they're saying: "We know that there is still COVID circulating in Colorado," Rachel Jervis, a state epidemiologist, tells us. "Even though wastewater concentrations are low, we are seeing some increases in some areas."

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