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16 variant cases discovered in Colorado, health officials say

State health officials gave an update on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine distribution on Monday.

COLORADO, USA — Health officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) gave an update on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine distribution on Monday.

CDPHE State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy, CDPHE Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France and Brigadier General Scott Sherman provided more information on COVID-19 in the state.

Variants in Colorado

CDPHE reports there have been 16 variant cases discovered in in state. 

Of those 16, CDPHE said 13 were the B117 variant that was discovered in the United Kingdom, and three were the L452R variant that has been discovered in California.

CDPHE said that the L452R variant has not yet been officially listed by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

Vaccination distribution

So far, CDPHE reports that 90% of the estimated 167,000 moderate risk health care workers and first responders have received one dose of the vaccine.

In skilled nursing homes, 100% of employees have received one dose, and 71% have received a second dose.

As of Monday, 39% of the estimated 562,000 Coloradans over 70 have been vaccinated with one dose. The state's goal is to get at least 70% of that population vaccinated by the end of February, which would be roughly 393,639 people.

Sherman said that about 35% of vaccine supplies will be allocated specifically for the 70 and older population as more groups become eligible.

Overall, 51% of an estimated 729,000 people eligible for Phase 1B have received one dose of the vaccine.

RELATED: How Coloradans 65+ can get in line for the COVID-19 vaccine

Educators and child care providers in licensed programs who are eligible for the vaccine on Feb. 8 should be hearing from their employer on scheduling an appointment, CDPHE said.

The state hopes to open up vaccinations to group 1B.3 in early March. Based on current vaccine supplies and forecasted shipments, Sherman said the estimated start date is currently March 5.

Group 1B.3 includes frontline essential workers and Coloradans ages 16-64 with two or more comorbidities.

The Colorado Restaurant Association said on Tuesday that restaurant workers will be included in Group 1B.3.

Frontline essential workers who qualify: 

  • Food and agriculture manufacturing
  • U.S. postal service
  • Public transit
  • Specialized transportation staff
  • Grocery and restaurant
  • Food service
  • Faith leaders
  • Public health
  • Frontline essential human service
  • Essential frontline journalists
  • Direct care providers for Coloradans experiencing homelessness.

Conditions that qualify comorbidities:

  • Cancer (Patients currently receiving treatment or have received treatment within the last month) 
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Down syndrome
  • Specific heart conditions (heart failure, cardiomyopathies or coronary heart disease, and severe valvular/congenital heart disease)
  • Obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 30kg divided by mass to the second power)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle Cell disease
  • Solid organ transplant
  • People with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks

CDPHE currently anticipates Colorado will receive 101,000 doses the first week of February, and then 90,000 weekly doses the remaining three weeks of February. If that estimate is correct, Colorado will get 452,000 doses by March 1.

RELATED: How Coloradans 65+ can get in line for the COVID-19 vaccine

Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) announced Coloradans age 65-69, as well as educators, will start to receive the vaccine Feb. 8 during a briefing Friday on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is known as Phase 1B.2 and includes an estimated 408,100 people. 

The addition of people 65 and older falls within current guidelines from the CDC.

A 16% increase in supply announced by the Biden administration and the fact they've vaccinated about 40% of the population over 70 allowed the state to open up distribution to others, according to Polis. Walgreens and CVS also returned some unused vaccine doses to the state that had been designated for vaccinations at long term care facilities.

In total as of now, the state will receive 452,000 doses between Friday and March 1, but Sherman said that number is a "conservative estimate" and could increase. With the extra supply, Polis said they're still on track to vaccinate 70% of those over 70 by the end of February while increasing eligibility to others.

RELATED: Educators and people 65+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 8

RELATED: CDPHE: Coloradans 70 and older will remain priority for vaccines as next phase prep begins

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