Colorado is "beginning to see a leveling off of the very alarming increase" in COVID-19 cases the state recorded in July, largely because of the statewide mask mandate, closure of bars and nightclubs, and 10 p.m. last call for alcohol, Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday.
The state is "back down to numbers that make us one of the safer states in the U.S.," he said, but cautioned that whether the positive trend continues "really depends on the behavior of Coloradans."
New daily coronavirus cases confirmed in Colorado. Chart by Evan Wyloge with information from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
"The way you've lived the last week, last two weeks — that's how we have to live the next few months, not the way that our June or July went, more like the way our May went," he said.
In mid-July, Polis ordered everyone age 11 and older to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. If not extended, the order will expire on Aug. 17. His "last call" order, temporarily moving the last call for alcohol at restaurants and bars that have converted to restaurants from 2 a.m. to 10 p.m., as well as the temporary closure of bars and nightclubs, will expire on Aug. 20, if not extended.
The state is in a "precarious position," Polis said, equating the situation to a "boulder on a hill — one wrong move and it could go into a rock slide off the end."
As of Tuesday there had been 48,394 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in the state, with 6,516 people hospitalized and 1,849 deaths among cases.
Colorado hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Graph by Evan Wyloge with information from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The number of new daily cases in Colorado reported by the state health department has been on the decline in the past week, after rising since mid-June.
The number of new cases reported by the state hit a high of 608 on July 28, topping the earlier peak of 575 on April 30. The six-week increase in new COVID-19 cases practically mirrored the preceding six weeks of declining cases.
But hospitalization data provided by the state shows the recent increase in cases did not coincide with an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the same way case numbers in March and April did.
Hospitalizations began to rise about two weeks after the number of new coronavirus cases started increasing in mid-June, but only reached about one-third as many hospitalizations as in March and April by mid-July, before beginning to decline again.
During the first spike in COVID-19 cases in Colorado, a group of University of Colorado researchers working with the state estimated, as of the first week of April, that only 27.7% of cases were tracked in the state’s data. The estimate has increased since then, reaching 33% by late April. And as of early July, the same group of researchers estimated that 40% of cases were being tracked by the state.