Nov 29, 2022 - News

New COVID variants threaten Colorado's most vulnerable

Illustration of a pillow with a health plus on a rocking chair.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

New COVID subvariants are spurring an uptick of cases and hospitalizations across Colorado, with the elderly again among the most vulnerable to the virus.

Driving the news: People ages 65 and older account for nearly 9 out of 10 COVID deaths to date — roughly two to three times the rate at which they die from the flu, according to a new Washington Post analysis of CDC data.

  • Meanwhile, less than half of Coloradans 65 and up — 39.7% — have received all COVID vaccines recommended by the CDC, the latest state figures show.

What's happening: At least 124 COVID outbreaks have occurred in Colorado residential health care centers so far this month, accounting for 92% of all outbreaks recorded by state health officials in November.

  • The rise in cases is likely due to new Omicron subvariants — which can evade the latest protections — along with the arrival of colder weather and more indoor gatherings, a spokesperson for the state's health department tells Axios Denver.

By the numbers: Roughly 72% of nursing home residents in Colorado are up-to-date on COVID shots, meaning they have received their Omicron booster vaccine, a spokesperson for the state health department tells Axios Denver.

  • Two-thirds of Colorado nursing home staff are also up-to-date on their jabs, per CDC data.

Of note: As of June, staff at licensed health care facilities in the state are no longer required to be vaccinated.

What's next: The Biden administration is launching a six-week campaign to boost vaccination rates among seniors, including nursing home residents — and the staff members who care for them.

  • Federal reports will be provided to Colorado and other states to point out the poorest performing nursing homes and how to improve them.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more