By Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4)– Modeling of COVID-19 cases shows a strong potential of a big drop coming, especially in places with higher vaccination rates. States like Colorado, which are doing better than many others have a greater chance for a drop.

(credit: CBS)

The look-ahead comes from a study out this week, put together from March case data and a look at other factors including vaccination rates.

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“They pulled together six different modeling teams and they took six different looks at what would happen over the next several months and all six different models agreed we would hit a peak,” said UCHealth Hospital Infectious disease specialist Dr. David Beckham.

That peak is where we are now. Cases in Colorado are typically running at ranges from 1,300 to 1,500 a day.

“The number of cases dramatically decreases over the next couple of months. It starts to kind of plateau again at relatively low levels beginning in July.”

How much varies a great deal and the modeling in the report from the Centers for Disease Control points to a sharp decline in cases in July if vaccination rates remain high and includes adherence to “non-pharmaceutical interventions” also known as preventative measures like mask-wearing.

(credit: CBS)

“If we have low vaccination rates and poor adherence to some of these interventions, the rate of decline is much slower,” said Dr. Beckham.

Around Colorado, signs of re-opening continue to show up.

“It feels like you’re alive again. When you’re alive then you can give back to other people,” said restaurateur Dana Rodriguez, co-owner of Work & Class and Super Mega Bien at 25th and Larimer.

The two restaurants re-opened this week after being closed for months. Rodriguez, a James Beard Award nominee, shut them down to take a break from the pressure of trying to get through the pandemic. Other restaurant operators in the city saw her move as symbolic of the pain and loss in the business.

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“Last year we don’t have enough resources. We don’t know what to do, it was so new. That’s when I start going like, we’re getting small, we’re getting smaller. We stop, we die. That’s the way that I see life. You always need to keep moving and creating and doing something different,” said Rodriguez.

Not only is she re-opening, but starting construction on the opening of a third restaurant to be called Cantina Loca at Zuni and 29th. Costs are up with re-opening, but she wears a big smile.

“Me and my partner, that’s all we care for right now is we have our doors open. And rest, everything will be fine.”

Colorado’s greater vaccination rate than some states will likely put it in a better position with the decline of COVID cases ahead. The Biden Administration is now hoping for a 70% vaccination rate around the country to reach herd immunity.

“We may not hit that 70% number,” said Beckham. “We’ll pretty quickly learn, in areas with relatively low vaccine coverage what that’s going to look like… We could very well have hot spots in Colorado and throughout the country. You know the virus isn’t going to completely go away over the summer.”

(credit: CBS)

When put on the spot, Beckham said case numbers are hard to forecast, but, “Hopefully over the summer we’ll be down to kind of 30 to 40 cases over the whole state.”

There will still be cases that arrive from other areas, such as states with low vaccination rates.

“Even if we went to zero cases, we’re going to continue to get re-introductions from other areas, both from within the US and outside the US,” added Beckham.

But as Colorado appears to start to turn a corner, hope is coming back. And one of its best-known chefs is looking ahead, ready to put in long hours welcoming people who helped get her through the worst of times.

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“We need that as a human and I think the social part, seeing the people that help to keep up your business. It’s a feeling that you cannot express,” said Rodriguez.

Alan Gionet