The omicron variant has skyrocketed to account for more than 90% of Colorado’s COVID-19 cases three weeks after its discovery, but it’s unclear what its dominance will mean for the state.
The new variant was found in just 0.1% of samples with DNA sequencing during the week of November 28, when the delta variant still dominated, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. During the week of December 19, about 91.2% of COVID-19 test samples sequenced in the state contained omicron.
In contrast, it took 13 weeks for the delta to exceed 90%. Omicron has two advantages over delta and other variants: It spreads more easily and is more likely to cause infection in people who have been vaccinated or re-infection in those who have survived a previous version of the virus.
Emerging data suggests that even people who received a booster injection may be more likely to be infected with omicron than with previous variants, although they are expected to have less severe symptoms. (Researchers in the UK who have found evidence the effectiveness of boosters decreased against infection did not yet have enough patients hospitalized with omicron after a booster injection to perform the calculations.)
“If you’ve been vaccinated twice, get the third shot,” Governor Jared Polis said at a press conference on Wednesday. “If you haven’t been vaccinated you should be very careful over the next few weeks.”
The new cases have passed the most recent peak, established in November, and reached levels last seen on December 10, 2020. An average of 15.5% of COVID-19 tests also came back positive over the seven past days with data suggesting the state doesn’t have a full picture of how people are infected. Polis acknowledged that some test sites had long lines, but urged people with symptoms to look for a different location.
“There are another 100 without a line at any given time,” he said.
It is clear that cases will continue to increase in the short term, but the picture of hospitalizations is bleaker, said Dr Eric France, chief medical officer in the state health department. As of Wednesday afternoon, 1,088 people were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 in Colorado, for a fourth day of increase.
So far, there is no sign of an increase in the number of children hospitalized, which some northeastern states report, France said at the press conference. As of Wednesday afternoon, 26 people under the age of 18 were receiving treatment for COVID-19 at hospitals in Colorado.
It appears that omicron is significantly less likely than delta to cause serious illness, but it’s not yet clear whether that’s because the virus itself is different, or because it infects more people with a disease. certain immunity, France said. Many scenarios are possible, from a “slight bump” to a “crushing bump,” he said.
“What may seem calm today could change in as little as 48 hours,” he said.
Omicron also differs from Delta in that it moves faster, which has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change their guidelines on when to stay home, France said. Most people infected with omicron develop symptoms within one to three days, and they tend not to shed the virus for more than a few days afterward, he said.
the new orientation is:
- If you know you have COVID-19, you need to stay home and avoid others for five days. If you haven’t had a fever for 24 hours after completing these five days, you can go outside again, but you must wear a mask when around other people.
- If you have been exposed to the virus but received your booster injection, you can continue with your normal activities as long as you do not develop symptoms. You must wear a mask around others for 10 days.
- If you are not vaccinated or have not received a booster and are exposed to the virus, you must stay home for five days. If you have no symptoms after five days, you can go outside again, with a mask. However, it is best to get tested to confirm that you are not infected before resuming your normal activities.
Orientation is controversial because 20 to 40% of people can still be contagious five days after experiencing symptoms. France said he believed the CDC guidelines were aimed at reducing infections while minimizing disruption.
“There is this beautiful change that will bring our squad back,” he said. “As we know, we have staffing issues in all areas of our economy.”