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Latest Statewide SARS-CoV-2 Model: 1 in 194 Coloradans Currently Infected

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Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado School of Public Health released an updated statewide modeling report showing that the effective reproduction number for SARS-CoV-2 statewide is just below one, and transmission control dropped from 83% to 76% over the last week. Currently 1 in 194 Coloradans are estimated to be infected. 

The modeling results show that if the B.1.1.7 variant spreads rapidly in Colorado, high levels of transmission control and/or vaccination will be critical to avoiding another large surge. 

The latest modeling provides projections based on COVID-19 hospital census data through February 22, 2021. The models are based on Colorado data and incorporate assumptions reflecting the current state of the science.

Key findings from the report:

  • The effective reproduction number is close to 1 at 0.95. Transmission control has decreased to 76% from 83% last week.
  • Estimated infection prevalence: 1 in 194 people in Colorado are currently infectious.
  • If Colorado remains on the current trajectory, state-wide hospital demand and cases will continue to decline. It will be over a month before hospital demand and infection prevalence reach levels comparable to last summer.
  • In the coming months, transmission control measures will help prevent another surge in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths while the rate of vaccination increases.
  • If the B.1.1.7 variant spreads rapidly in Colorado and transmission control lessens over the short-term, we could see another peak in hospital demand. In the bounding scenario with reduction of transmission control to 60% immediately and rapid spread of the variant, demand could exceed ICU capacity and approach hospital capacity.
  • With regard to vaccination, increased vaccine distribution and high levels of vaccine uptake will lead to more immediate benefit and would increase the level of protection should there be a surge of the B.1.1.7 variant. 
  • Mobility is stable in the Denver metro area. Restaurant visits spiked in ski regions over the President’s Day holiday weekend.

The Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) assembled the expert group that works with the state on modeling projections. The group includes modeling scientists at the ColoradoSPH and the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, as well as experts from the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver, and Colorado State University. 

All previous modeling reports are available on the Colorado School of Public Health’s COVID-19 website. 

The state will continue to review data and model findings as the pandemic continues to inform policy decisions. Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.