Colorado pandemic restrictions relaxed as officials warn of 4th COVID-19 surge

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Colorado is on the verge of a fourth COVID-19 surge as cases and hospitalizations rise, officials said. At the same time, the state has relaxed some of its pandemic safety regulations, The New York Times reported April 18. 

The state is reporting an average of 1,661 new daily cases, bringing cases to levels not seen since January, the Times reports. Hospitalizations have also risen by about 19 percent over the last few weeks. 

"We are seeing what appears to be the beginning of a fourth wave of COVID-19 in Colorado," Scott Bookman, the state's COVID-19 incident commander, said during an April 15 news conference.

The majority of new coronavirus cases in Colorado are driven by the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K., and CAL.20c, a strain that emerged in California. 

Meanwhile, the state's "dial system," was lifted April 17. It required counties to limit capacity at restaurants, offices and gyms, based on COVID-19 prevalence in those areas. Counties now have more oversight on COVID-19 restrictions in their areas, and several areas that are experiencing an uptick in cases and hospitalizations said they don't plan to enact restrictions beyond those mandated by the state.

Colorado's statewide mask mandate is expected to remain in place through May 2, with limits on large indoor gatherings, the Times reports. As part of the governor's public health order, some county level restrictions could return if resident hospitalizations threaten to surpass 85 percent capacity. 

"I am concerned that without policies and behaviors to slow transmission, we will continue to see increases in COVID-19 hospitalization among those who are not yet vaccinated," Elizabeth Carlton, PhD, associate professor at the Colorado School of Public Health in Boulder, told the Times.

About 42 percent of Colorado's population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly 26 percent were fully vaccinated as of April 18, according to CDC data. 

 

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