DENVER — Public health officials in Colorado said all COVID-19 data sources are trending upward during an update on the state's response to the pandemic Thursday morning.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said the rising metrics indicate an increased spread of COVID in Colorado.
The seven-day moving average of new cases has increased to 1,566 a day, and there is a clear increasing trend in the number of newly reported daily cases since early April, Herlihy said.
However, she said the numbers are still relatively low compared to previous waves.
The seven-day moving average positivity rate of 8.68% is also a significant increase from March.
Currently, there are 144 patients hospitalized with COVID, which is significantly lower compared to previous peaks, but hospitalizations have also been trending upward steadily since early April.
Herlihy said omicron subvariants are driving case increases, especially the BA.2.12.1 subvariant, which is estimated to be 25% more transmissible than the BA.2 omicron subvariant.
Modeling from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates BA.2.12.1 is responsible for 48% of active cases in the U.S. and 40% of cases in Colorado.
There have also been sporadic detections of BA.4 and BA.5 in the U.S. including Colorado. Herlihy said those cases are currently increasing in parts of Europe and South Africa. They are likely to be more transmissible compared to previous subvariants, in part due to their increased "immune escape" ability to infect people who have already contracted COVID.
According to modeling data, Herlihy said hospitalizations from the latest increase are expected to peak in mid-June, but the range of possible outcomes is much lower than the winter omicron peak.
COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman reminded residents that the federal at-home testing program is still actively sending free tests through the U.S. Postal Service.
A third round of ordering opened on Monday, and more information can be found on the USPS website.
Additional information on other testing options can be found on the state's website.
Right now, about a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk — mostly in the Northeast and Midwest.
“Prior increases of infections, in different waves of infection, have demonstrated that this travels across the country,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said at a White House briefing with reporters.
However, officials are cautious about making concrete predictions, saying how much worse the pandemic gets will depend on several factors, including to what degree previous infections will protect against new variants.
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