Colorado reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the most in a single day since April 28, but remained om a stronger position than other states, a top health official told reporters.
"Our cases, while they're increasing here, they're not increasing quite as rapidly as we're seeing the U.S. rates increase right now," state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said at a press conference with Gov. Jared Polis and other state officials Wednesday afternoon. "But I do want to say that given the experience that we had last fall, given what we're seeing in other states right now, I don't think that we're immune to seeing a rapid increase in cases here."
Officials attribute the sustained increase in cases to the surging delta variant of the virus. In addition setting summer highs for new cases, hospitalizations have climbed to levels last seen in early May when the state eas pulling itself out of what officials called its fourth pandemic wave. Polis told reporters Wednesday there were 606 residents hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the states, the most since May 12.
Herlihy said Colorado's recent spike is not as steep as the national trends. Colorado has the seventh-lowest per-100,000 case rate in the country, Herlihy said. Colorado also is below national trends for hospitalizations and deaths.
Many states experiencing larger surges have restarted schools, and some of those states — like Florida and Texas — have blocked local authorities from instituting mask orders, Herlihy said.
Most Colorado students returned to schools this month amid a patchwork of COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Polis said Colorado72.5% of Colorado adults have received at least one dose of vaccine to combat coronavirus. Two thirds of residents 12 and older, that number drops to have had one doe or more of the vaccine.
Polis called the numbers "not good enough to stop" the spread of the delta variant, which accounts for nearly all cases in the state.
The state announced Tuesday that workers who interact with vulnerable populations — a wide group including prison and state-run long-term care employees, as well as various state officials - must be vaccinated in the coming weeks. Dean Williams, who heads the Department of Corrections, said the agency hopes it doesn't lose staff because of the requirement but that it has a responsibility to protect inmates.
"I'd rather deal with this now," he said, "than wait three months from now, when we're in worse shape and we don't have the space to make this kind of decision."