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Hospitalization rate for unvaccinated COVID-19 patients is 7-times higher than vaccinated patients, state says

Health officials provided an update on current COVID case numbers as well as outlined a plan to provide free testing for schools statewide.

DENVER — Colorado health officials provided an update on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the latest on vaccinations and the delta variant in the state.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman, and CDPHE Branch Chief Sarah Hamma addressed the media during the news conference.

RELATED: Colorado hits 75% mark of adults vaccinated for COVID-19

During the news conference, Herlihy provided a brief overview of trends in the state, showing that overall, Colorado is seeing a general increase in hospitalizations and cases.

Currently, the state has 796 COVID-19 hospitalizations, most of the hospitalized population are adults who are not vaccinated, according to Herlihy. State data shows that the hospitalization rate of unvaccinated patients is 7-times higher than that of vaccinated patients.

While COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations are on the rise, children's hospitals are seeing an early increase of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases, something that is normally not seen until the winter, Herlihy said.

Bookman then provided an update on hospital beds in the state. About 80% of the state's intensive care unit (ICU) beds are being used, according to Bookman.

"We still have a significant amount of room in our hospitals, statewide," he said.

The state 7-day positivity rate rose to 6.22% on Monday. Bookman said testing has increased recently with 51,803 tests run last week. 

"Testing is still an important part of containing the virus," Bookman said, adding the state still has 97 community testing sites open to the public.

Hamma provided an overview on the state's program to provide free voluntary testing to all K-12 schools in Colorado. The testing will be available to both staff and students regardless of vaccination status or presence of symptoms, according to Hamma.

The goal of the program is to ensure students can continue in-person learning and minimize the disruption of in-person learning, Hamma said.

The program will use rapid antigen testing and will be done weekly by schools and families who have agreed to participate, according to Hamma.

Schools and districts will be provided two different options for administering the test, Hamma said.

  • Full Service: State contractor provides all services needed to implement screening testing including staffing, collecting/tracking parental consent, registration, supplies, sample collection and reporting.
  • Direct Ship: State contractor provides all screening testing supplies, use instructions, reporting portal for consent collection and screening testing implementation by the school. The school administers the screening tests, reports results and manages the program for the students and staff.

Colorado reached a milestone this week with 75% of Colorado adults receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the office of Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo).

More than 3,381,447 of Coloradans 18 or older and 3,628,890 of all eligible Coloradans have been immunized with at least one dose, Polis said. 

Over the last week, the state has averaged 4,314 vaccinations per day among those ages 12 and older, and more than 55% of Coloradans ages 12-17 (247,443 people) have received at least one dose. 

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for Coloradans aged 16 and up.

CDPHE data shows that 92.73% of tested COVID-19 samples over the last week were the more contagious delta variant.

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