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Colorado plans for coming COVID lull, but conditions could change

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Colorado should get a relative break from COVID-19 for the next few months, but it’s possible that residents could be asked to roll up their sleeves again or take other precautions in the fall, state officials said Thursday.

The state’s modeling indicates as much as 80% of the population could have some immunity by the end of February because they’ve been vaccinated, survived the virus, or both. Unless there’s a new variant that’s substantially different, that should keep new infections relatively low for a few months, though immunity may start to wane by fall or winter, said Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident commander.

If that happens, Coloradans may need to get another booster shot, Bookman said. Israel’s health ministry is considering offering a fourth dose to all adults after a small study found it boosted antibody levels, but it’s not clear if that boost translates into a meaningful increase in protection.

“This virus is unpredictable,” Bookman said during a news conference Thursday morning. “Come fall, we may need to do something different.”

COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases are dropping at this point, as are the percentage of tests coming back positive, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said. Still, both remain high, with 861 people hospitalized statewide as of Wednesday and about 3,000 cases reported each day, she said. During the summer lull last year, between 200 and 300 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 at any time.

“Hospitalization rates are still higher than we want them to be,” she said.

Overall, though, the emphasis was on how to move beyond the current stage of the pandemic.

Bookman said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is working on new guidance for schools on how to handle quarantining after they stop requiring masks, as Denver Public Schools has announced it intends to do later this month. Last week, the state health department said schools could allow children exposed to the virus to remain in class, as long as they don’t develop symptoms, test negative and wear well-fitting masks.

“We know how important it is to normalize school,” Bookman said.

Some programs meant to control the virus will remain in place for now, but at scaled-back levels. For example, when the state first started mailing at-home tests, residents could order eight tests per month, with the idea that they were supposed to screen themselves twice a week.

Now, the state is sending two tests at a time, which recipients can use if they aren’t feeling well or know they’ve been exposed to the virus, Bookman said. People who want to test more frequently can order free tests from the federal government or buy them elsewhere, he said.



Colorado should get a relative break from COVID-19 for the next few months, but it’s possible that residents could be asked to roll up their sleeves again or take other precautions in the fall, state officials said Thursday.

The state’s modeling indicates as much as 80% of the population could have some immunity by the end of February because they’ve been vaccinated, survived the virus, or both. Unless there’s a new variant that’s substantially different, that should keep new infections relatively low for a few months, though immunity may start to wane by fall or winter, said Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident commander.

If that happens, Coloradans may need to get another booster shot, Bookman said. Israel’s health ministry is considering offering a fourth dose to all adults after a small study found it boosted antibody levels, but it’s not clear if that boost translates into a meaningful increase in protection.

“This virus is unpredictable,” Bookman said during a news conference Thursday morning. “Come fall, we may need to do something different.”

COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases are dropping at this point, as are the percentage of tests coming back positive, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said. Still, both remain high, with 861 people hospitalized statewide as of Wednesday and about 3,000 cases reported each day, she said. During the summer lull last year, between 200 and 300 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 at any time.

“Hospitalization rates are still higher than we want them to be,” she said.

Overall, though, the emphasis was on how to move beyond the current stage of the pandemic.

Bookman said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is working on new guidance for schools on how to handle quarantining after they stop requiring masks, as Denver Public Schools has announced it intends to do later this month. Last week, the state health department said schools could allow children exposed to the virus to remain in class, as long as they don’t develop symptoms, test negative and wear well-fitting masks.

“We know how important it is to normalize school,” Bookman said.

Some programs meant to control the virus will remain in place for now, but at scaled-back levels. For example, when the state first started mailing at-home tests, residents could order eight tests per month, with the idea that they were supposed to screen themselves twice a week.

Now, the state is sending two tests at a time, which recipients can use if they aren’t feeling well or know they’ve been exposed to the virus, Bookman said. People who want to test more frequently can order free tests from the federal government or buy them elsewhere, he said.

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