COLORADO, USA — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) acknowledged Tuesday that there is community spread of the omicron variant in the state but said it is not yet the dominant strain of the virus as it currently is in other areas of the country.
"Omicron is here, we have community spread, it's at a higher level in the state in areas that experience increased visitation and travel," Polis said. "And we know that we need to use the tools at our disposal to protect ourselves."
Those tools include getting vaccinated, getting tested if symptomatic, and wearing masks if you're indoors around others, Polis said.
He suggested that people look to community vaccination sites if they're struggling to get a timely appointment through their local pharmacy. Vaccine clinics, many of them drive through, are being offered at the following locations.
- Ball Arena
- Arapahoe County Community College
- Aurora Municipal Center
- Chapel Hills Mall
- Citadel Mall
- Douglas County Fairgrounds
- Jefferson Marketplace
- Mesa County Community Services
- La Plata County Fairgrounds
- Pueblo Mall
- Weld County Clerk and Recorder Building
The governor also announced that some sites opening soon will offer both testing and vaccination. Those will be located at:
- Dicks Sporting Goods Park
- Boulder County Fairgrounds
- Ball Arena
- Water World
- Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy in Southwest Denver
- Timberline Church in Fort Collins
Those sites are set to open sometime in the week after Christmas, according to Polis.
Federal health officials said Monday that omicron has raced ahead of other variants and is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) numbers showed nearly a six-fold increase in omicron's share of infections in only one week and that it is now said to be responsible for roughly 73% of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S.
Polis said about 47% of those eligible have received a booster dose of the COVID-19 and said that that third dose shouldn't be thought of as optional.
"While the CDC has not yet changed the definition of fully vaccinated to include the third dose, I believe they will and I believe we all need to make that shift in our own," Polis said.
Statewide, there are 1,030 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Dec. 21, and there have been an average of 1,467 new cases of the virus per day over the last seven days.
The Tuesday afternoon came as families and friends will be gathering across the country for the holidays.
Earlier this month, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released holiday guidance that recommends the following for the holiday season:
- Plan a gathering where everyone over the age of 5 has been vaccinated – and those eligible for a booster have received it.
- Stay home if you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, are positive for COVID-19, or have had recent close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- Wear a mask and practice physical distancing while shopping.
- If you can, use curbside pick up for groceries.
Also on Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced plans to free rapid at-home tests and increased support for hospitals. Polis said more than 1.3 million tests have been distributed through that state's free at-home testing program. He said Tuesday, that people who live in Colorado should continue to use the state program to request free at-home tests but that it could be rolled into the federal program at a later time.
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