Aug 5, 2022 - News

Colorado COVID hospitalizations drop — but cases could stay elevated

Illustration of COVID cells arranged in a radial pattern with red circles overlaid on the image.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Colorado's COVID-19 hospitalizations are falling fast. But officials warn that case counts could remain elevated — and underreported — as people get reinfected after previous waves.

By the numbers: The state saw a 14% drop in COVID hospitalizations this week compared to last, with 268 beds taken as of Tuesday. Outbreaks have also dipped slightly, from 390 to 385.

  • Meanwhile, the state's seven-day positivity rate is hovering around 9% — nearly a 1% drop from the week prior.

Yes, but: Health officials warn that cases are undercounted, skewing whether levels are truly trending downward, how widespread the virus is and what that means for hospitals.

The big picture: The uncertainty comes at a precarious time, as kids prepare to return to school this fall and cooler weather packs people indoors.

What they're saying: The "challenge" with projecting infections is that many people who caught COVID during the December and January wave "are getting reinfected," Talia Quandelacy, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health, told the Denver Post.

  • Other variables — including how quickly kids get vaccinated and how rapidly the virus mutates — are further complicating the fall forecast.

What to watch: The Biden administration plans to begin rolling out updated COVID booster shots next month, Axios' Shawna Chen and Caitlin Owens report.

  • The retooled formulas are expected to provide stronger protection against the new Omicron subvariant BA.5 — the most transmissible evolution of the virus yet.

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