By Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4) –  People out on a beautiful Monday night in Denver were getting some fresh air. Twenty-somethings Bridget Flanery and Kayla Lorenz were walking with masks.

“I have had people in my family have COVID scares so just like staying vigilant with the precautions until we have herd immunity is like really important to me,” Flanery said.

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“I feel really fortunate, all my roommates are vaccinated so we feel really safe living together,” Lorenz shared.

(credit: CBS)

Both work in teaching and are already vaccinated. They are two in the 20-30 range where doctors are seeing a bubble arise in COVID cases. The reasons may be varied.

“The number of cases that are positive are skewing younger for a lot of reasons including vaccinations and also people in the older or more at-risk group have certainly learned to live with this for a year and have certainly learned that masking works, physical distancing works,” said UCHealth’s chief of emergency medicine and chief innovation officer, Dr. Richard Zane.

But young people, who have been less severely impacted, can be more casual.

“I think it’s definitely a mix of some people becoming like apathetic to it, desensitized to it because we’ve in been in this pandemic so long,” said student Lilly Lichtenberger. “I think that after a year of this pandemic, I think that people are tired of it, and I don’t blame them, and that can lead to some complacency and I completely understand,” said Zane.

He doesn’t see large super-spreader events, but modest size events when COVID is being shared of a dozen or so people indoors and unmasked. A rising proportion of cases among young people means a rising percentage of hospitalizations as well.

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“The young tend to have much less severe illness, require ventilation less frequently, require hospitalization less frequently, but when you have so many, you are bound to have some who get severely ill,” said Zane.

(credit: CBS)

Mortality rates are dropping in Colorado and it’s a positive, but Zane says variants are adding a new worry.

“We don’t know whether it’s a characteristic of the individual virus or because there is more viral load in people who are asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic. Don’t know yet, but there is a correlation between variants and increased transmissibility.”

Denver University student Sophia Taylor is hoping to be vaccinated soon to help end that pandemic, realizing not all will.

“They don’t really think about the broader perspective of like passing it on to other people.”

Much of the population is still unvaccinated and unprotected. Zane says it can do a lot of damage, even to those at lower risk.

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“It is still pretty capricious. It is still a very dangerous disease and any correlation or description of similar to flu is really just not the case. I think the take home message is that vaccines work. Get vaccinated as soon as you can.”

Alan Gionet