COLORADO — COVID-19 is spreading quickly among children. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) reports that the state is seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases in 6-11 year-olds since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Children who are unvaccinated are really at risk than they have ever been in the pandemic,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said.
Besides COVID-19 as a concern for kids, hospitals are already seeing other respiratory infections like RSV and influenza circulating.
“We typically see increases in November or December a peak in February, and unfortunately we are seeing a rapid rise in these cases of RSV this is a virus that can cause a serious illness in children typically young children, and results in high hospitalization rates,” Dr. Herlihy explained.
CDPHE is reporting the hospitalization rate of unvaccinated people is more than 7x the rate of vaccinated people.
“While we have seen with the Delta variant we have seen a decrease in the vaccine effectiveness overall, it does appear the vaccination effectiveness in the prevention of severe disease continues to be high,” Dr. Herlihy added.
Meanwhile, across Colorado 447 schools have already agreed to participate in the free COVID-19 school screening program.
“This school testing program is a key way to identify cases early, stop the spread before it can grow, and become a large outbreak in a school,” CDPHE COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman said.
It is a $173 million federally funded program available for students and staff regardless of vaccination status in Colorado K-12 schools. CDPHE will provide all necessary resources for the use of weekly rapid antigen testings.
“It will ensure that students will continue in-person learning as safely as possible and minimize the number of disruptions to in-person learning from disease transmissions,” CDPHE COVID-19 Community and Vendor Partnerships Sarah Hamma said.
Schools participating in the screening program will be able to start testing next week. Superintendents and school districts can still enroll in this free program. CDPHE is recommending children continue to wear masks outside of school.
“Something we need to be keeping in mind as we are out and about those of us that are vaccinated might be more confident to be out and about but we need to remember that children who are too young to be vaccinated continue to be incredibly vulnerable or more vulnerable than they’ve been in the past, unfortunately,” Dr. Herlihy said.
As of August 30, 17 children are hospitalized compared to 779 adults (+18). To view the entire press conference from Tuesday, click here.