DENVER — Officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) gave an update on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine distribution and the presence of variants.
On Sunday and Monday, the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices will meet to discuss usage guidelines for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Once completed, officials said Colorado could begin receiving shipments of what would be the third approved vaccine early next week, increasing the state's overall supply.
The federal government communicated that Colorado should expect about 45,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week, but CDPHE is waiting to finalize the beginning of Phase 1B.3 until there is more concrete data.
Officials said that it still plans to open up vaccinations to Phase 1B.3, essential workers, sometime in early March.
CDPHE said that cases and hospitalizations have plateaued in the past few weeks, but are still relatively low. Both had been declining steadily since peaking in December in Colorado.
One positive development is the significant reduction of the flu this year. Officials credited-19 COVID measures for this reduction including masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing.
Speakers included CDPHE Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France, State Vaccine Task Force Deputy Director Kate McIntire, CDPHE Immunization Section Data Analyst Rachel Severson and Brigadier General Scott Sherman.
COVID variants in Colorado
Officials say there is research suggesting that variants could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by April, which could lead to a spring surge in cases.
However, they said that evidence, including low transmission rates of variants in Colorado, does not suggest that is happening at this time.
So far, officials say two variants have been identified in Colorado; the B117 strain first discovered in the United Kingdom, and the L452R variant discovered in California.
Overall, officials said that roughly one in every 200 Coloradans are currently positive for COVID-19, and a very small portion of that population are infected with a variant.
Latest COVID case and vaccination data in Colorado
The seven-day, moving average positivity rate decreased to 3.62% as of Feb. 24, according to the latest data from CDPHE.
It also reported 883,137 people have been vaccinated with one dose of the vaccine as of Feb. 24, and 437,380 have been vaccinated with two doses. 1,320,517 cumulative doses have been administered. Both vaccines currently authorized are about 95% effective and require two doses to achieve immunization.
As of Feb. 24, CDPHE reports 423,558 people have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
As of Feb. 24, there were 376 confirmed COVID patients hospitalized.
CDPHE reports also reports 5,917 deaths among people with COVID-19, and 5,837 deaths due to COVID-19 as of Feb. 24.
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.
About 550,000 Coloradans are 70 or older.
How Colorado is distributing the COVID vaccine
Colorado is administering the COVID-19 vaccine in phases.
Frontline health-care workers were the first to receive the vaccine, followed by first-responders and people 70 and older. The goal is to vaccine 70% of the people in that age group by the end of February.
Educators, child-care workers and people 65 and older are also currently eligible to receive the vaccine. Essential workers are next in line.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: COVID-19 Vaccine