CO COVID-19 Cases May Decline In Coming Weeks, Officials Say

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DENVER, CO — COVID-19 cases could be headed down in Colorado, according to a modeling report issued Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Colorado School of Public Health.

The report estimates that "infection prevalence will be below 1% by the end of February."

The modeling team assembled by the Colorado School of Public Health comprises experts from the school itself as well as from the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver and Colorado State University, officials said.

This new report includes four key messages concerning Colorado's current fight with omicron, in addition to predictions about the spring and the potential risk of another variant.

Citing "unprecedented levels" of Coloradans infected with COVID-19 in January, the report estimates that about five percent of Coloradans are currently infected with the virus, compared to previous highs of one and two percent.

Despite glimmers of hope ahead, the report also estimates that "Omicron has infected roughly 42 percent of the Colorado population to date. By late February, we estimate that this will increase to 65 percent. This increase of 23 percent means that a large number of Coloradans may be infected with Omicron in the weeks ahead."

Through simulations and studying COVID-19 trajectories in other places, the report estimates that both hospital demand and the number of people infected in Colorado will decline rapidly into February, with infection prevalence possibly below 1 percent and daily hospitalizations below 500 by the end of the month.

"The Colorado model and experience in other locations both indicate that COVID-19 hospital demand and SARS-CoV-2 infections will continue to decline over the next five weeks with confidence. In Colorado, reported cases began to decline on day 25 and COVID-19 hospitalizations began to decline on day 32," the report said. "Our analyses suggest that downward trend should continue, however there is uncertainty with regard to the rate of decline in hospital demand."

This predicted decline, the report says, is due to the rising prevalence of Coloradans' immunity to omicron. The report estimates that 75 percent of the state is already immune to the variant, and anticipates that number will rise to 80 percent by mid-February.

Looking ahead to the spring and summer, the report says that a "lull lies ahead with the Omicron variant in Colorado but [we] are quite uncertain as to how long it will last."

The report concludes that a decline and potential lull in the pandemic is highly likely, so long as a new variant does not appear. This lull, the report says, can provide a "window to prepare for the possibility of yet another COVID-19 wave driven by a variant."

State Epidemiologist, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, said that the estimates of this report and the likelihood of declining rates of COVID-19 transmission are encouraging. However, she urged caution.

"There are still high levels of COVID-19 circulating in the state, so we ask Coloradans to remain cautious and continue to follow public health guidance to help protect themselves and others — get vaccinated, get a third dose as soon as it is time, wear a mask in public, and avoid large gatherings," Herlihy said. "Together we can work to ensure case rates continue to decrease in Colorado."

This article originally appeared on the Denver Patch

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