Colorado’s COVID-19 cases rose for a fifth consecutive week and hospitalizations are up slightly, but the virus is still circulating at relatively low levels in the state compared with other points of the pandemic.
The state confirmed 4,511 new cases during the week ending Sunday — a 25% jump from the previous week’s 3,619 cases, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 in Colorado also ticked up for the second straight week, rising to 103 people from 88 — a 17% increase. The state is only publicly updating hospitalization numbers once a week, though, making it harder to observe trends.
Those numbers are still far below the peak of the omicron variant’s surge in January, when more than 1,600 people were hospitalized with the virus in mid-January.
The percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive rose to an average of 5.54% over the last seven days, up from 4.98% a week ago — another indicator that the virus is spreading slightly more in the community. State officials tend to start getting concerned when that positivity rate rises above 5%.
Even with the slight increases across the board, virus numbers are still relatively low in the state, said Beth Carlton, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the Colorado School of Public Health.
Only one Colorado county — Pitkin — is above “low” levels of COVID-19 community transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We may continue to see an increase, but I don’t expect this to be the type of wave we’ve seen in the past that’s disrupted all manner of things,” Carlton said.
Public health officials are keeping an eye on the BA.2.12.1 subvariant that has emerged in Colorado and elsewhere and appears to be growing as a proportion of total infections. But there’s still much more to learn about the subvariant and how it compares to previous iterations of the virus, Carlton said.
“Should people be dramatically changing their behavior right now? Probably not,” she said.
The state’s public health department also announced Wednesday that it would be updating the way its data is reported to reduce confusion. National and third-party reporting sites, such as the New York Times COVID-19 tracker, had been showing much higher case data for Colorado since they couldn’t distinguish between new cases and older cases that were just now being entered into the system.
“The state is making this change in response to Colorado residents expressing continued frustration and confusion when comparing local reports with national ones, even though the source data is the same,” public health officials wrote in a news release.
Denver Post reporter Jessica Seaman contributed to this report.
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