By Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4) – Most of the country is seeing a drop in cases of COVID-19, but Colorado continues to be in a surge. An expected plateau two weeks ago has been exceeded.

It’s attracting attention around the country. The New York Times tabulation of COVID cases shows 37 states declining. Colorado is ranked 7th worst in the increase in cases over the past two weeks.

(credit: CBS)

“The predictability of this virus is that it’s completely unpredictable,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention at UCHealth Hospital. She believes the rates in many other states peaked earlier. “The states that had the worst vaccination rates also had the most acceleration in cases.”

The number of patients in UCHealth’s 12 hospitals has reached 305, the highest since last December.

“At some point we sort of tipped over into the ones that were unvaccinated are still testing positive, and there’s probably some spillover from people that are unvaccinated interacting with people that were vaccinated eight, nine, ten months ago now.”

“Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, their rates are going down,” said Tri-County Health’s executive director, Dr. John Douglas. “We’re beginning to see our relative rank go up. We’re closer to the top than we were, in part because we’re probably detecting more of what’s always been there than some of the other places were.”

Colorado’s test positivity rates, he notes, tend be to be a lot lower than many other states.

“They probably weren’t detecting nearly as much of the total as we were. When test positivity goes up it tells you there’s either more transmission occurring, or that there’s probably insufficient testing happening, and you know that whatever you’re detecting is probably not the entire story.”

Data on outbreaks shows it happening at schools and many assisted living facilities.

“They were the ones that got vaccinated early on – were more likely to have potential waning, and we also know there was not as high a vaccination rate in some of those staff as well.”

(credit: CBS)

The state is requiring those employees to be vaccinated by Nov. 1. Where Colorado does not seem to be pinning cases is in large crowds like Broncos games.

There was a small cluster at the baseball All-Star game in Denver, says Douglas.

“Very hard in those cases to know if it was sitting in the stands or sitting in the bar after. When you really dissected out, outdoor exposures, not followed by indoor exposures, probably have quite low risk associated for them.”

Alan Gionet