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As the virus continues to spread, Colorado's response to COVID has changed a lot since last year

Around Halloween 2020, the state was getting ready to shut down indoor dining and ban most gatherings. Now, there really aren’t any restrictions at all.

DENVER — A lot has changed over the past year, especially as vaccines give us protection against COVID-19. Yet when we look at how the virus is spreading, the numbers aren’t very different than what we saw last Halloween. 

At that point, the state was getting ready to shut down indoor dining and ban most gatherings. Now, there really aren’t any restrictions at all.

Let’s take a look at the numbers first. 

The seven-day average positivity rate this Halloween compared to last is nearly the same: 8.3% last year and around 8.9% this year. 

Now, millions more people are vaccinated. Still, hospitals are more full with COVID patients today than they were at this time last year. There are 1,279 COVID patients today, compared to 788 at this point last year. 

And people are still dying from COVID. The numbers fluctuate between 10 and 20 each day, similar to last year. 

Still, the restrictions are very different.

Tens of thousands of Broncos fans packed into Empower Field Sunday. Sure, there were some empty seats, but not nearly as many as October 2020. A year ago at this time, only 5,700 people were allowed in. By the end of November 2020, there were no fans at all.

Restaurants are also busy now. They operate at full capacity and masks are optional in most places. Yet at this time last year, the state was getting ready to shut everything down. On November 20, 2020, Colorado went to level red. Indoor dining was closed, offices and gyms were limited to 10% capacity and indoor events were banned.

Now restrictions have been lifted for large gatherings. 

The Denver Fan Expo is in town this weekend. Thousands of people dressed up in costume roamed through the convention center. 

A little different than last year. Back then, the convention center was being prepped to house COVID patients as a makeshift field hospital. It wouldn’t close down until January of this year, though no one was ever treated there. 

Gov. Jared Polis has said he does not want to impose any more statewide restrictions, and instead leave it up to local jurisdictions. That means we shouldn’t expect a statewide mask mandate or capacity restrictions. 

Instead, Polis said he wants to focus on preserving hospital capacity, which could include bringing in FEMA health care teams and redirecting health care workers to help out in units that are treating the most patients.  

Life is very different now compared to this time last year. The data shows the virus is still spreading. The restrictions in place today show the way we deal with COVID has changed.

> Watch: What happens next in Colorado's COVID response?

RELATED: Polis signs executive order to help full hospitals

RELATED: Mask mandates indoors continue in few Colorado counties


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