What Colorado’s COVID-19 Models Show For Fall 2021

There are two main factors to watch out for here: vaccination and the number of people following COVID precautions like masking and social distancing.

DENVER – The Colorado School of Public Health has been modeling COVID-19 data since the start of the pandemic.

On Thursday, we chatted with Associate Professor Elizabeth Carlton about what modeling will show for Colorado in the coming months.

What do the models show?

Professor Carlton said there are projections that put Colorado in a scenario where we could see another spike in hospitalizations similar to what happened in December 2020.

The models were run a few weeks ago when vaccinations were down. The models indicated that if there was a low vaccination rate in August and the control of transmission – things like wearing masks and social distancing – declined, hospitalizations could approach the peak of December 2020.

Since these models were run, vaccinations have started to flatten overall, although they have increased in some age groups.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also released guidelines on indoor masking in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID as the number of cases increases in parts of the country.

“I don’t know if it’s enough,” Carlton said. “The goal of the game in the coming month is to get as many eligible people vaccinated.”

“Vaccine trends have changed,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s quirky enough.”

What can be done to prevent this?

The models ran multiple scenarios, including trying to meet the goal of vaccinating 80% of adults with at least one injection by Labor Day, and 70% of eligible teens ages 12 to 17.

“We would need a real substantial increase in adoption,” Carlton said.

The most recent immunization data shows that 73.5% of adults aged 18 and over received at least one dose, and 52.2% of youth aged 12 to 17 received a dose on Labor Day. being only a few weeks away.

If we stay on the current path, with a slower vaccination and some people choosing not to wear masks indoors, Carlton said we could face a disruptive fall.

“People get sick and go to the hospital,” she said. “Disruption of education, disruption of workplaces as people test positive and find out who needs to isolate themselves and who stays home.”

As for what’s currently happening with COVID-19 cases, Carlton said last month, the state has gone from an admission minimum of around 35 people per day with COVID, which was even higher than the numbers compared to last summer, double the number of admissions in recent weeks.

“We don’t know how long this increase will last,” she said.

What Carlton is watching is not just a drop in cases, but a drop in hospitalizations to the point where it’s on par with June or last summer.

What are the hospitals saying?

UCHealth said they are monitoring this modeling and forecasting a potential increase. This time around, they plan for both COVID patients as well as continued care.

“We can have COVID, which is potentially going to increase, and then in addition to this influenza potentially and other respiratory viruses as well. In our thinking, it’s not just thinking about COVID but thinking broadly,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, an infectious disease specialist with UCHealth.

Dr Barron said when comparing last year to this year, this time around there is a mix of advice on masks, more people out and back in the classroom and offices, that is why they plan to see more respiratory viruses and hospital admissions for an illness other than COVID.

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