Subvariants likely driving Colorado’s recent COVID surge

Officials said the BA.2.12.1 subvariant is estimated to be 25% more transmissible than the BA.2 subvariant and is responsible for about 40% of cases in the state.

DENVER – Colorado public health officials said all COVID-19 data sources are trending higher Thursday morning during an update on the state’s response to the pandemic.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said the rising numbers indicate an increasing spread of COVID in Colorado.

The seven-day moving average of new cases has risen to 1,566 per day, and there is a clear upward trend in the number of new daily cases reported since early April, Herlihy said.

However, she said the numbers are still relatively low compared to previous waves.

The seven-day moving average positivity rate of 8.68% is also a notable increase from March.

There are currently 144 patients hospitalized with COVID, down significantly from previous peaks, but hospitalizations have also been rising steadily since early April.

Herlihy said that omicron subvariants drive case increases, particularly the BA.2.12.1 subvariant, which is estimated to be 25% more transmissible than the BA.2 omicron subvariant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that BA.2.12.1 is responsible for 48% of active cases in the US and 40% of cases in Colorado.

There has also been sporadic evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 in the US, including Colorado. Herlihy said these cases are currently increasing in parts of Europe and South Africa. They are likely more easily transmissible compared to previous subvariants, in part due to their increased “immune evasion” ability to infect people who already have COVID.

According to model data, Herlihy said hospital admissions are expected to peak in mid-June because of the recent spike, but the range of possible outcomes is much narrower than the Omicron peak in winter.

COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman reminded residents that the federal at-home testing program is still actively sending free tests through the US Postal Service.

A third round of orders opened Monday, and more information can be found on the USPS website.

You can find more information about other test options on the state website.

COVID-19 cases are rising in the United States — and could get worse in the coming months, federal health officials warned Wednesday.

Currently, about a third of the US population lives in areas that are considered particularly at risk – mainly in the Northeast and Midwest.

“Previous increases in infections in different waves of infection have shown that this is spreading across the country,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, at a White House briefing with reporters.

Officials are wary of making concrete predictions, however, and say how much worse the pandemic will get depends on several factors, including how much previous infections will protect against new variants.

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