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Denver County now at 'substantial' risk of COVID transmission

How is the Delta variant spreading across the metro area and the Front Range? We talk to a health department to learn their plans.

DENVER — The delta variant is spreading rapidly across the metro area and the Front Range threatening vaccinated and unvaccinated Coloradans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Tuesday that fully vaccinated individuals wear a mask in areas of concern and children grades K-12 wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. 

“Expect the unexpected,” said Tri-County Health Department Executive Director Dr. John Douglas.

Especially when dealing with COVID and its variants. Right now, 42 Colorado counties are in "substantial or high" levels of transmission. That’s different from Tuesday when 38 counties were listed as ‘substantial or high.’

The Tri-County Health Department represents Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties, all are currently listed as "substantial" according to the CDC.

“Which, by the way, includes all the counties in the metro area and the front range – that masks ought to be worn in indoor settings,” Douglas said.

The CDC transmission map shows Denver and surrounding counties to be in the "substantial" range – meaning there are more than 50 cases per 100,000.

“All of the metro counties have been above that 50 threshold for at least the last three days. And for those last three days, they’ve all been increasing. And really, they’ve all been increasing since the end of June,” Douglas said.

But Denver’s mayor thinks differently.  


“We look good in Denver,” Mayor Michael Hancock said. 

Douglas said vaccinations have flattened due to lack of convenience and lack of vaccine licensing. 

“Trying to figure out every strategy that we can to get the folks that are not yet vaccinated,” Douglas said.

Tri-County said they are awaiting additional guidance from the state before updating its guidance.

Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) said Denver’s vaccination rates are high and hospitalization rates are low. As of now, there will be no change to the current public health order in Denver.

Hancock remains concerned but says they’re following the science.

“If there are additional steps we need to take to protect the public and not lose the progress we’ve made over the last several months, we’ll continue to make that assessment and make some decisions down the road,” Hancock said.

Hancock still encourages Coloradans to get the shot.