DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) gave an update on the state's response to COVID, cases and vaccination efforts on Tuesday.
Polis announced that more than 90% of Colorado kindergarten through 12th grade educators have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, which is about 108,000 Coloradans.
He also said that about 60% of Coloradans ages 65-69 and 74% of Coloradans ages 70 and older are vaccinated.
Polis also announced that Colorado will get 17,000 more vaccine doses next week than previously expected.
As the state continues to vaccinate the 60 and older population, which represents the majority of hospitalizations and deaths, Polis said he anticipates that restrictions will continue to be removed at a quicker pace as the threat of overwhelming hospitals decreases.
Polis also shared disappointment over the party that turned into a riot in Boulder last weekend.
"I'm hopeful that no one gets COVID from the result of last weekend's maskless, thoughtless rager in Boulder," Polis said. "But sadly, given where we are with the virus, that's unlikely."
"We're not out of the woods yet," Polis continued. "I know our college students want to party. They will be able to soon enough. But not today, not this week. Hopefully around graduation time."
Presence of COVID variants in Colorado
Polis was joined by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist for Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), who focused on the presence of the B.1.351 variant first discovered in South Africa.
So far, three cases of this variant have been discovered in the state as of Sunday, and they are the first cases discovered in Colorado, Herlihy said.
The cases were associated with the Colorado Department of Corrections in Buena Vista, including one case that was an incarcerated person, and it does not appear any of the infected had a history of travel, Herlihy said.
CDPHE is investigating these cases, conducting contact tracing, testing prison staff and inmates and providing vaccinations on site.
One case appears to be a reinfection, and none of the three people who got sick were vaccinated, according to Herlihy.
There have also been 265 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom in Colorado, and 161 cases of the B.1.427 / B.1.429 variant first discovered in California.
The P.1 variant first discovered in Brazil and the B.1.526 first discovered in New York City and surrounding areas in the northeast have not been identified in Colorado, Herlihy said.
The state lab is hoping to increase its capacity to test variants to 5% of all tests in the state, and Herlihy said she is hopeful that will happen in the coming weeks.
Colorado COVID vaccine rollout
As of March 8, 1,054,537 people have been vaccinated with one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and 612,538 have been vaccinated with two doses.
Changes to the phases of distribution were recently announced, including new information about Phase 1B.3 and 1B.4.
Phase 1B.3 includes about 958,000 people who became eligible to receive the vaccine on March 5.
The Phase 1B.4 group is much larger and includes an estimated 2.5 million Coloradans, including those 50 and older, who could become eligible to receive the vaccine as early as March 21, officials said Friday.
Polis said that people should continue to adhere to COVID-19 precautions, such as wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, washing hands frequently and avoiding interacting with anyone outside their household when possible.
Those precautions, as well as an increased supply of the vaccine, may lead to an end of pandemic regulations by summer.
"I'm confident that by summer we’ll be very close to normal based on these vaccine predictions that we have today," Polis said.
COVID testing, cases and deaths in Colorado
There are 311 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado as of March 8, and the seven-day, moving average positivity rate decreased slightly to 3.27%, according to the latest data from CDPHE.
CDPHE reports 437,187 people have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, as of March 8.
According to CDPHE, 6,427,032 total tests have been administered and 2,619,973 people have been tested as of March 8. All 64 counties have reported cases.
CDPHE reports: 5,990 deaths among people with COVID-19 and 6,022 deaths due to COVID-19 as of March 8.
The majority of deaths — 54% — are among people over age 80; 24% of deaths occurred in people between ages 70-79, and 12% were in people ages 60-69.
How to sign up for a COVID vaccine in Colorado
Polis announced last week that those 60+ became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on March 5, along with some frontline essential workers, such as grocery store employees, as the state nears its goal of vaccinating 70% of those 70 and older.
To find contact information for providers across Colorado:
- Visit the state's COVID vaccine information website.
- Call: 1-877-268-2926
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