Infections are going up. Hospitalizations are going up. And Coloradans should get vaccinated as soon as possible, because the vaccines work.
That was the message Gov. Jared Polis conveyed during a Tuesday news briefing, during which he shared what he termed “pretty bleak numbers for our state.”
The virus has killed 6,414 people in Colorado. The test positivity rate on Tuesday was 9.64%, “the highest it’s been in months,” Polis said. There were 622 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Colorado, he said. In the first week of March there were around 360 in the hospital.
“If you haven’t been vaccinated, you are at very high risk for contracting this virus right now,” Polis said.
More figures from the state COVID website: As of April 26, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases was 1,607. That’s up from 1,536 the previous week and part of a fourth wave of infection in Colorado that started in mid-March.
Other data presented at the briefing by Polis and Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, was meant to counteract rising infections. Vaccinations are working, they said.
“Areas of our state where there’s higher vaccination rates, guess what? Significantly lower COVID cases, and areas of our state that have the lowest vaccination rate have the highest number of COVID cases,” Polis said. “We hope this cold, hard data helps convince people that might be on the sidelines to get vaccinated and protect yourself for yourself, for your community, for your state, for your family.”
While Coloradans who have already been vaccinated constituted the portion of the population most determined to inoculate themselves from the virus, Polis said there’s a “hesitancy or laziness issue,” as opposed to a resistance to vaccines, with the remaining portion of the Coloradans who are unvaccinated. “They will get the vaccine, but it’s not immediate in their minds,” Polis said, adding, however, that the “time is now.”
Herlihy displayed a slide that graphed the 10 largest counties in Colorado according to vaccination rates and infection rates. Counties such as Pueblo and El Paso with low vaccination rates of around 45% are experiencing relatively high infection rates while counties such as Jefferson and Boulder with high vaccination rates of nearly 65% are experiencing relatively low infection rates.
Herlihy highlighted another unwelcome trend. The infection rate of children 11 to 17 is rising significantly faster than it is for adults and younger children.
“We’re seeing our most rapid increase in the state among middle school and high school students,” Herlihy said.
Polis announced that all six community vaccination sites are now open for walk-in visits with no need to make an appointment. Last week, the state for the first time opened only several of the community sites for walk-in visits.
The six community vaccination sites are (see more details below):
- Ball Arena in Denver
- The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland
- Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo
- Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City
- Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs
- Grand Junction Convention Center in Grand Junction
Another factor working in favor of increased vaccinations is resumption of administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which federal authorities had paused after a small number of patients experienced blood-clotting disease after receiving the vaccine. But federal and state authorities view the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as safe and effective.
As of Tuesday, 4.1 million vaccine doses in Colorado had been administered, and 1.7 million people were fully immunized.
For more information about how to sign up for vaccination, visit cocovidvaccine.org or call 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926).
Colorado’s 6 community vaccination sites
1000 Chopper Circle, Denver
The Ranch Events Complex
5280 Arena Circle, Loveland
Colorado State Fairgrounds
1001 Beulah Ave., Pueblo
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
6000 Victory Way, Commerce City
Broadmoor World Arena
3185 Venetucci Blvd., Colorado Springs
Grand Junction Convention Center
159 Main St., Grand Junction
More information about where to get vaccinated, including the community vaccination sites, is detailed on a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment webpage.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:45 a.m., April 28, 2021, to correct how it characterizes the number of doses so far administered in Colorado.