Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment responds to Omicron variant and spike in COVID cases

Coronavirus

STATEWIDE — As more information becomes available on the Omicron variant, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment asked Coloradans to take precautions heading into the holidays.

CDPHE admitted they still are learning more about the new variant, but they said they want to treat it seriously.

Credit: CDPHE

“Omicron appears to be more transmissible so more easily spread from person to person,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist. “The data are still out on what severity looks like.”

Colorado has seen a decrease in cases of the COVID-19 virus overall, but just over the past few days case numbers have been trending upward, according to CDPHE. It could be a variety of factors, but the health department said they’re attributing it to the new variant, as well as a delay in cases because of the previous holiday.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy. Credit: Rachel Saurer

“Testing is obviously a really important strategy for situational awareness for us having awareness of how much transmission is occurring in the state and then also for individual awareness,” Dr. Herlihy said.

In some positive news, the health department said hospitalizations are decreasing, but the number of those hospitalized are still high compared to previous waves, and the department said they’re still remaining skeptical the number will continue to decrease.

“While we do see a bit of breathing room there, as Dr. Herlihy indicated, there’s a lot of concern nationally and internationally of just the sheer transmissability of this variant may result in an increase in hospitalizations,” said Incident Commander Scott Bookman.

Scott Bookman. Credit: Rachel Saurer

They said for the upcoming holidays that will wrap up 2021, continue to practice the guidelines they shared over the past two years with recommendations of testing and encouraging people to gather with vaccinated individuals.

“Physical distancing, having events outdoors… at least in the metro area it looks like the weather is going to be quite nice,” Dr. Herlihy said. “That’s a great risk reduction strategy so all of the things that we’ve been doing to make gatherings safer will be really important this holiday.”

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