For the first time in months, state officials are in full-blown freakout mode over the direction of Colorado’s coronavirus epidemic.
Cases of COVID-19 are rising, but, in a way, that’s a smaller concern. Hospitalizations are increasing — and not just among older Coloradans. Deaths from the virus appear to be rising, as well. And, with cooler weather pushing more activities indoors, where viral transmission is more likely, and major holidays around the corner, this is most definitely not where the state wants to be, just weeks after kids in some areas returned to school in-person and as restaurants and others businesses are still struggling to find their footing.
“We cannot go on as we have been,” Gov. Jared Polis pleaded during a news conference on Tuesday. “The status quo is not acceptable. We need to do a better job of wearing masks around others, staying apart from others, reducing our social interactions.”
Here’s a rundown of where we are, and why state health leaders are so concerned about where we might be heading.
Last week saw more than 6,500 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the state. That is by far a record. Prior to this current spike, the previous weekly high came in mid-July with about 4,200 cases. (The small bar on the far right of this chart is from this week, which, as it is still ongoing, can’t be compared to the others.)
But, though concerning, these numbers are also a bit misleading. Researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health who have been modeling the course of the pandemic in the state believe that the first wave of cases in spring was actually much, much higher than these official numbers show. A lack of testing at the time obscured the true figure.