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Colorado among 10 states with lowest COVID infection rate, governor orders more tests

Gov. Polis also said that he is hopeful a vaccine will be approved for children ages 5 to 11 by October.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis said Colorado continues to rank among the 10 states with the lowest infection rate during an update on Colorado's response to the COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday.

In an effort to stay on top of COVID-19 rates in the state, Polis said the state is ordering two million BinaxNOW rapid at-home tests that are free upon request.

"We know that testing is one of the key areas to keep people safe," Polis said. "The sooner that someone knows that they have COVID and are contagious, the sooner they can take the steps to self-isolate, protecting even their close family from contracting the deadly virus."

Colorado residents can sign up for free at-home tests on the state's website. Once you submit an application for the tests, you should get an e-mail to complete the order process. CDPHE reviews all requests that come through the online enrollment form to make sure each person is eligible. Once a request is approved, the e-mail is sent. Coloradans should expect the e-mail within one to two weeks of submitting the form online. Only then can they order the tests through the online portal.

Polis also said that he is hopeful a vaccine will be approved for children ages 5 to 11 by October so that distribution to that age group can begin. He also said the state is ready to administer boosters to those who are eligible, which is currently people ages 65 and older, people who are immunocompromised and frontline workers.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE), said that some COVID-19 metrics have been going up and down recently, but overall the state is seeing a plateau to slight decreasing trend.

Herlihy said that there has also been some fluctuation in the data due to a likely increase in social gatherings during Labor Day weekend. However, she also cautioned that metrics could increase as people move indoors more often during the colder months.

Hospitalization rates are beginning to level out and has become a clear trend over the past week, Herlihy said. As of Sep. 21, she said there are 876 COVID patients hospitalized, a decrease of 45 from the same time last week.

Herlihy did note that hospitalizations and ICU bed utilization are higher in northern Colorado, but also said that could be impacted by Wyoming residents being hospitalized in that area where case rates are much higher. She also noted that Larimer County's hospital admissions are slightly higher and Weld County's admissions are much higher compared to the state.

The briefing came as the state opened four community vaccination sites this week in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs to meet a potential increase in demand as deadlines approach for employer-mandated vaccinations.

The sites will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 doses per day and will be open every day through Sept. 30.

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According to the CDPHE, the state has had more than 1,000 cases per day every day this month. The seven-day positivity rate is 6.37%.

As of Monday, 890 patients were hospitalized in Colorado for COVID-19, and 15% of facilities were anticipating a shortage of ICU beds in the next week, according to CDPHE data.

CDPHE said 75.87% of eligible people in the state have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 69.44% of eligible people are fully immunized.

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