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."

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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