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COVID-19 numbers still high, but 'significant progress' made

The state's positivity rate is just below 11%, down from a high of about 29% just a few weeks ago, according to state data.

COLORADO, USA — State health leaders expressed optimism Thursday as they continue to see improvements in all areas of key data related to COVID-19 in the state.

"The seven-day moving average number of cases has been averaging around 3,000 for the last few days and this is below the average we saw in both or November and December 2021 waves so certainly continuing to see good progress," said state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.

In January, the omicron variant led to a huge spike in cases, now case numbers remain high, but "significant progress" is being made, according to Herlihy. The positivity rate is also just below 11% which is well below the peak of about 29% just a few weeks ago. The goal is still to be at or below 5% positivity.

That number fell below 1,000 this week and as of Wednesday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) reported 861 confirmed COVID patients statewide. Another 59 cases are under investigation for possible COVID-19 infection.

Herlihy said, "800 Coloradans being in the hospital right now is not for our ideal state for COVID-19. We'd certainly like that number to come down quite a bit. I think this also reinforces vaccinating and the message today about the importance of booster does."

RELATED: Colorado COVID hospitalizations drop below 1,000

Besides a brief dip in late December, hospitalizations haven’t stayed below 1,000, consistently, since early October. In late fall and early winter, hospitalizations climbed and hospital capacity hit an all-time low during the pandemic.

While there is a lot of good news, leaders cautioned that COVID-19 has been unpredictable and they're looking ahead at what possible strategies might be needed in the months ahead.

"Thinking about what might be required again into the fall and into the winter if there is evidence of waning immunity and maybe a need for additional shots to keep people up to date on their vaccination,' said COVID-19 incident commander Scott Bookman.

He said right now we're in a spot with a high level of immunity to the virus but come fall the situation might be different and therefore measures and recommendations might need to change.

Vaccinations

Vaccines and boosters are the most important tool available for fighting the virus, according to health leaders, who said Thursday about 24% of those eligible for boosters in Colorado have yet to receive that additional dose.

COVID-19 Incident commander Scott Bookman stressed the importance of those boosters by showing that data that indicates those who get it are 12 times less like to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and 56 times less likely to die from it.

Pfizer's specific vaccine for children 5 and under could be available as early as later this month and state leaders said they're preparing for that possibility.

"We are working with all of our providers to encourage them to order this very specific vaccine for this age group," said Bookman. "Now almost everyone will be able to get this vaccine."

It could be available as early as Feb. 21 if emergency use authorization is granted.

RELATED: Wearing masks in Colorado: What you need to know as orders end in some parts of the state

Testing

State leaders also provided a reminder about free test kits that are available through the state and are directly mailed to you. So far, more than 2 million tests have been distributed and at this time each order contains two rapid at-home COVID-19 tests.

Click here for more information or to order tests

Bookman encouraged people to use those tests if they feel ill or if they've had a known exposure to COVID-19.

As new cases have dropped and many mask mandates around the Denver metro area have been allowed to expire, but leaders encourage residents to still wear them indoors whether or not a mandate is in place.

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: COVID-19 Coronavirus 

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