DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) gave an update on the state's response to COVID and vaccination efforts as cases rise and restrictions are transferred to local government control.
Polis announced that there are now three mass vaccination sites offering COVID vaccines without appointments:
- Ball Arena in Denver: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Monday.
- The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
- Grand Junction Convention Center in Mesa County: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Polis also said that same-day appointments are available at the other two mass vaccination sites at Dick's Sporting Goods Arena in Commerce City and Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs.
The announcement comes as cases and hospitalizations continue to increase in the state. Polis said that 553 were hospitalized as of Tuesday, which is an increase of 43 from Monday and the most since January.
However, while there is concern about rising case counts and fluctuating hospitalizations, the majority of cases are among people 60 or younger who are less likely to develop severe symptoms.
But while 65.2% of the state's population over 60 are vaccinated, roughly half of Colorado's adult population and every resident 16 and younger remain unvaccinated.
That is why Polis stressed that now is the time for anyone waiting for a vaccine to get one, focusing on Coloradans who have been waiting because it was not convenient or easy to get, or because they wanted Colorado's older and more vulnerable population to be protected first.
Polis was joined by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), who explained recent data showing vaccinated Coloradans are 93% to 95% less likely to contract COVID.
Cases contracted by fully-vaccinated people are referred to as "breakthrough cases," and there have been 819 cases, compared to 106,965 cases among all people in Colorado.
When giving a specific analysis of cases recorded between April 6-10, Herlihy said data show there were just 140 cases among 985,220 vaccinated Coloradans, compared to 9,383 cases among 3,635,517 residents.
That equates to one case in 7,000 among vaccinated Coloradans (0.014%), compared to one case in 387 among unvaccinated Coloradans (0.258%) over those five days.
Through the data collected between April 6-10, Herlihy said it is determined that fully-vaccinated people are 94.6% less likely to be a reported case compared to unvaccinated people.
She also said that a study examining breakthrough cases since the beginning of vaccination found that being fully vaccinated makes it 93% less likely to be reported as a case in Colorado.
Colorado faces 4th wave of COVID cases
Polis has called what’s happening in Colorado now the “fourth wave” of COVID-19 infections in the state, but health officials said one key factor makes it different from the others.
That metric is hospitalizations, which have been a number that has guided restrictions for the past year. While past waves involved older Coloradans who were more likely to have severe disease, this one has impacted those who have not yet received a vaccine.
“It’s typically a younger population right now that’s being hospitalized, but in general they tend to do a lot better, with shorter lengths of stay, less need for the ICU,” said JP Valin, the chief clinical officer at SCL Health. “Patients are coming in … they are sick, but they are being discharged relatively quickly, and we are optimistic with that.”
Valin said according to state data, 92% of the new cases being reported in Colorado are people under the age of 60. Sixty percent of those cases are people younger than 40.
Meanwhile, more than 70% of Coloradans over 70 are fully vaccinated. This age group has accounted for the vast majority of deaths so far during the pandemic.
Colorado COVID restrictions transferred to local government control
With the COVID-19 vaccines becoming widely available in Colorado, the state government will be allowing each county to decide how it will respond to the pandemic going forward.
The City and County of Denver issued a 30-day public health order set to go into effect Friday that sets new capacity limits including the following:
- 75% capacity at offices
- 75% capacity for retail businesses
- 100% capacity for gyms, recreation centers and pools, with six-foot distancing between non-household members
- 100% capacity for restaurants, with 6-foot distancing between parties and a group size limit of 10
- 25% capacity for bars that do not serve food, not to exceed 75 people
- Alcohol beverage sales at bars/restaurants allowed until 2 a.m.
- Indoor unseated events at 50% capacity, not to exceed 175 people per room
- Indoor seated events at 100% capacity, with six-foot distancing between groups of up to 10 individuals (indoor events with over 500 people must consult with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE)
- Outdoor seated and unseated events with fewer than 5,000 attendees at 100% capacity, with a written mitigation plan that facilitates social distancing between parties.
- Proposed events with 5,000 or more attendees must consult with DDPHE before the event can occur.
Denver will also continue the Five Star Program as follows:
- Indoor events at 50% capacity not to exceed 500 people
- Restaurants, gyms, recreation centers, and pools are not afforded extra capacity because they will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity with six-foot distancing.
- All other certified businesses may allow up to 50 additional people in each setting beyond the limits
MORE COUNTY RESTRICTIONS: These are the COVID restrictions in Colorado counties
Johnson & Johnson vaccine still paused amid investigation
Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plan to meet this coming Friday to discuss the pause of the COVID-19 vaccine Johnson & Johnson / Janssen, and the top U.S. infectious disease expert said he’d be “very surprised if we don’t have a resumption in some form by Friday.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that “a decision almost certainly will be made by Friday. I don’t really anticipate that they’re going to want it to stretch out a bit longer.”
Fauci told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that one possibility would be to bring the one-and-done shots back “with some form of restrictions or some form of warning…I believe by Friday, we’re going to know the answer to that."
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is in limbo in the U.S. after federal health advisers said last week they needed more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot — and if so, how big the risk is.
The reports are rare — six cases out of more than 7 million inoculations with the J&J vaccine in the U.S. The clots were found in six women between the ages of 18-48. One person died.
How to schedule an appointment for a COVID vaccine in Colorado
Everyone age 16 and older in Colorado who wants to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is now eligible to do so.
The vaccine is available for members of the general public through major health care providers, pharmacies, and mass vaccination sites. More specific information about each option is below.
Most, if not all, major health providers have waitlists where you can sign up. You can do that now, and once you are eligible and spots become available, you'll be notified by text, email or both. Once you get that notification, act fast, as spots will likely fill up quickly.
The following sites are open in the state and will eventually be able to vaccinate about 6,000 people per day.
The vaccine is available at major retail pharmacies in Colorado. They include:
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